Friday, May 19, 2020

Masters of their Trade

Achieving mastery in any field isn’t something that can be done quickly. Nor will everyone who seeks mastery attain it. The ease with which the master does what others have maybe taken months trying to do — and still failed — only comes from years of deep thought, constant practice and unremitting commitment to discovering the truth of things. Being a master takes patience and persistence, which is why it’s so rare in the organizational world today.

How many of today’s leaders take the time to reach mastery of their professions? How many are willing to ignore the quick-fix panaceas, the “anyone-can-do-it” prescriptions of gurus and consultants, the mechanistic formulae and media-based management fashions?

They all want great results with limited effort. There is a way to achieve that, but it’s not one many are willing to take. They want it, but they want it now — and they don’t want to make much effort to gain it either.

One Way to True Mastery

Masters of Tai Chi, judo or aikido provide a good example of genuine ways to get maximum results with minimum effort. Like organizational leaders, they face determined opponents and must act swiftly or risk serious injury. When someone attacks you, there’s no time to sit down and think about options. When a competitor’s product sweeps into the market and sales take a nose-dive, the organizational leader is also forced into more or less immediate reaction.

How do masters attain their skills in the world of the martial arts? The spend long periods training and studying the reality of their bodies and how an opponent thinks and moves. They need to embed this understanding deeply in their minds, since there will be no time to stop and think once combat has started. They need to know it the way they know how to walk, so it becomes instinctive.

The martial arts are as much intellectual as physical — maybe more so. Excellence depends on wisdom and insight more than personal fitness. That’s why elderly, seemingly frail masters can still send a young, tough, fit opponent crashing to the ground. By refusing to force anything; by going with the flow of the situation and understanding the importance of timing, the master uses the strength of the opponent’s attack to bring him down. Physical strength is not what matters. It’s applying just the right amount of force at a point where the opponent has over-extended himself and is off-balance, that brings success. Could there be a better goal for an organizational leader?

In his book Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fullfillment, George Leonard sums up the case for seeking mastery in any sphere of life.
The many comments and inquiries that I continue to receive have convinced me more than ever that the quick-fix, fast-temporary-relief, bottom-line mentality doesn’t work in the long run, and is eventually destructive to the individual and the society. If there is any sure route to success and fulfillment in life, it is to be found in the long-term, essentially goal-less process of mastery. This is true, it appears, in personal as well as professional life, in economics as well as ice skating, in medicine as well as martial arts.
Slow Leaders must aim to become masters of their art too. Our world is so complex and dangerous we can no longer afford the risk of leaving key decisions in the hands of those who have neither taken the time to master the intricacies of their specialism, nor to master their own minds and emotions.

The world today is more easily affected by organizations and markets than by governments. We’ve seemingly lost the battle to make sure only wise and experienced people should become our political leaders. We’re on the brink of losing a similar battle to place huge multi-national organizations in the care of masters of their profession. Maybe there’s still time to pull back. Let us hope so, with all our hearts.

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beza1e1 said...

Full Text Feed again? Thanks. Now i will read more of your texts, because i'm often too lazy to open an extra browser window.

12:17 PM  

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