The martial arts of East Asia have long fascinated people in the West. The proliferation of martial arts through the film industry only served to boost the aforementioned fascination: Images of ninjas; Shaolin monks; and the late, great Bruce Lee performing gravity-defying kicks have captured the hearts of audiences for decades. These techniques, however, were not acquired overnight and only through the basic foundations of control, training, self-discipline, and continuous learning were they mastered. These fundamentals not only lend themselves to mastering forms of combat, but also to mastering management processes and dominating your market.

Control
Martial arts differentiates itself from the casual street fighting with its emphasis on control. This is what defines it as an art form; reckless punches and kicks are replaced with precise forms. Three core aspects compose the foundation of a martial art’s control:

  • Concerted actions
  • Think before acting
  • Environmental awareness

Applying these core aspects to your business can generate positive results. Making controlled decisions in the business world is the only method by which you can effectively allocate resources and personnel. A wild decision is a gamble and, while gambling is both exhilarating and can carry the potential for a high reward, the result of a bad gamble could be fatal to your business. Taking time to contemplate your decisions before acting on them reinforces the aspect of making controlled movements. Patience can go a long way in the business world, especially when you have yet to become aware of your environment. Understanding how your environment is set up and how it changes is a crucial key to victory. The market your business occupies is your environment and, in order to dominate, you must know how it moves in the present and how it could potentially move in the future.

Training and Self-Discipline
Like any other art form, martial arts require practice and conditioning. The mastery of the various katas, or forms, necessitates repetition until the movements are intuitive. Forms are learned slowly and in small segments, which are then strung together until the practitioner appears to be performing a long dance.

  • Smaller goals lead to bigger targets
  • Repetition leads to perfection

Your business must function in the same way in order to establish and maintain a presence in your market. Whatever your product may be, you must set small benchmarks for your team to reach. For instance, the first benchmark could be closing five sales. Once those sales are closed, you can add on five more for the second benchmark or even increase it to ten more. If you only close two of those sales, you must analyze what differed between the two sales and the three that did not close. Repeat the process until you reach your benchmark and then press forward. Domination of your market is not an overnight process. Like learning and mastering the steps of a kata, it requires time and dedication to perfect your form until that which was once difficult becomes easy.

Continuous Learning
When studying martial arts, practitioners operate under the guidance of senior students or a master. Under their tutelage, the practitioner learns their forms, step-by-step, until they reach the level of mastery. While they may have “mastered” their specific form of combat, there still exists myriad other forms they can explore in order to become a “complete fighter.”

  • Utilize your resources
  • Remain open to learning

When managing your business, you may believe you do not have anyone to offer guidance through the process. Sitting at the head of a company can feel like being lost in the wilderness without any direction. However, there exists guidance from other entrepreneurs within your field in the form of books, seminars, and more. Utilizing these resources provides a compass to help circumvent the common obstacles of management.

Upon reaching success, you may feel that you mastered your craft; you are the quintessential businessperson, a sage of the sales world who can learn nothing else. It is when that thought occurs that your business begins its demise. There is always room for improvement within some aspect of your company. There are always new processes and new technologies that you can implement into your operating processes. Lastly, there is always a bigger market to expand into with new challenges and new benchmarks to reach.

Seemingly unrelated, the world of business management and the realm of martial arts have greater similarities when given a deeper examination. The application of controlled, precise actions at the most opportune time is the vehicle to success in both fields. Trial-and-error and the constant tweaking of processes run through the veins of both disciplines, while the ability to constantly learn and improve create the room for expansion in both fields. Never be rigid to the point that you cannot adapt. In the words of the late Bruce Lee: “… be formless … shapeless … like water …now, water can flow or creep or drip or crash! Be water, my friend.”

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