Monthly Archives: August 2014

A Strange and Perplexing Disorder: My Mother and Emily Dickinson

MomScan_20140825 (3)Sometimes we are oblivious to the serious problems people we know are having. And when we learn about them sometimes we’re shocked. As shocked as some people reading this post, one of my growing up memories, will be.

In high school I won an award and there was an assembly. Sitting on the stage, I looked down at the faces in the audience and there in the third row was my mother. My eyes stung with tears, I was so touched by her being there. I thought of the courage it had taken for her to come alone. Under my breath I whispered, “Good going Mom.”

When you are an agoraphobic you are one of a miniscule portion of the world’s population, and you seem terribly odd because the simple act of leaving your home alone fills you with helpless terror and requires great bravery on your part. And so you are odd, and that is no secret to you. But you try to hide the fact.

You are a person of considerable mystery. Your problem is the least talked about and least understood psychiatric disorder. And the most difficult to treat.

“You’re afraid to leave the house? What do you mean?” (They are stupefied. You really can’t mean that.)“It is very hard for me.” (You are understating.)

“Yes, a person can get hit over the head or robbed these days.”

“Those things don’t scare me in the least. I can take care of myself.”

“Then what are you afraid of?”

“Do you really want to know?”

“Very much.” (Because it seems so weird to me.)

“Most of all of the space out there—the immensity of it.”

“But I’ve known you for years and I’ve seen you outside your house many times.”

“But have you noticed that I’m never alone?” (My husband is with me, or my wife, or a close friend—someone I can put all my trust in.)

When you are out alone in that immensity you sweat, you worry, you feel faint, and you have difficulty breathing. At times the tension builds and you feel that any moment you will scream. All that’s being asked of you is that you go alone down the familiar street to the familiar train station and catch a familiar train and go to the doctor, and then return home again in two hours. You go over and over meticulously in your mind the details—the steps–you must carry out before you can open your front door again and set foot into the sanctuary you feel you never should have left. First walk down the street to the station, (That’s not so bad, is it?), then sit in the waiting room (Be ready; you will be afraid), then sit in the train looking out the window, then…Then on the way back, everything in reverse.

The problem is the mind. The mind is the trap. How can you master the mind when there is nothing to master it with but that same mind that is not perfectly well?

It is now time to leave. The door opens—the assault of the open air–and you mutter to yourself, Be strong. Then, hours later when you have completed the dreaded journey and are safely home again, everything in that domain welcomes you back—the refrigerator, the dining room furniture, the light fixtures.

My mother never as an adult saw the interior of a grocery store or a butcher shop, but called in the family orders item by item and had everything delivered, did not shop for clothes for herself or us except by mail order, did not take her children to doctors or dentists, but had them go alone, never walked down one flight of stairs to do the laundry in the basement, avoided crowds and never went to circuses, zoos, ballparks, libraries, playgrounds, beaches, concerts, or museums, and avoided elevators and all other enclosed places.

When you are as she, you often say after sleepless nights of anticipating opening the door and leaving, “I would give anything not to have to go. Can you please come with me?”

“NO (a stern voice), you must go alone. You have to master this thing. You have to do what you don’t want to do. That’s the only solution, the lone treatment. Do what you don’t want to do.”

I’m sure my mother never realized she was sick. My father never expected her to be any different than she was, and never all his life mentioned her affliction, nor did she ever speak of it, nor did we, her children. It was no less a part of her than her arm, and if a person’s arm is deformed, you never bring it up. When my father took her outside and stayed close to her–as though they were attached by a string–no one would have known that were he to leave her side– absentmindedly in a parking lot, for example–she would to some extent have lost her mind.

Yet, she was in love with the world–the glitter of lights and the sunsets and the dawns; the shades and shapes. Her absence from it made it all the more beautiful to her. She marveled at people; how they seemed so blasé and reckless out on the streets–as impervious as rocks.

I think to her the apartment in which she sought refuge and dwelled so happily was a garden glittering with precious stones. In it, keeping her company when everyone was gone, might just as well have been hummingbirds and blue jays and lilies of the valley and Roses of Sharon– bird baths and white columns and caterpillars. Utensils were rubies, chairs diamonds, books emeralds, toys on the floor scattered sapphires.

In that tiny domain she darted like a thrush among the five rooms, lifting, sorting, storing, repairing, pushing, sweeping, mopping, cleaning, wiping, washing, drying, folding, spreading, fluffing, rushing, straightening, puttering, submerging dishes in bubbly water–working, working, working–confident, capable, efficient, masterful–the queen of our lives. She was the center of the family about whom everything orbited and whose sweetness, gentleness, caring, affection, and kindliness she shared equally among us, and which filled every crevice of our home.

Everything she needed to exist contentedly was within reach–a tiny, perfect world—we, her family, walking through rooms, or sitting, or coming in or going out the doors. It was clear that on certain days each moment in that apartment and whatever happened therein filled her with inestimable joy. Then she might have thought:

If all the griefs I am to have
Would only come today,
I am so happy I believe
They’d laugh and run away.

If all the joys I am to have
Would only come today
They could not be so big as this
That happens to me now.

It was very near her thirtieth year that Emily Dickinson deliberately decided never willingly to leave her home again. She had been a prolific letter-writer since childhood, but letters subsequent to that year became more important to her than they are to most people because they were her “letters to the world,” and the replies she received were her sole means of escape from the imprisonment she had chosen.

She was as out-of-touch with the world as my mother. The news from “out there” came second hand to them. It was not something they experienced directly. Dickinson had no interest in the Civil War—the period of her flowering– and no interest in contemporary writers. It is doubtful she read a single poem of the other living American poetic genius, Walt Whitman. Eventually, Dickinson refused to be in the same room as visitors, her isolation now complete.

Were my mother a poet, she too might have written:

The soul selects her own society.
Then shuts the door.

© 2014 David J. Rogers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Power of Focus; the Power of Breath: The Doctrine of Ki, Part III

“When you’re afraid, tense the muscles of your stomach and the fear will disappear” Zen adage

(Adapted from Fighting to Win: Samurai Techniques for Your Work and Life by David J. Rogers (Crossroad Press, 2014)

 A Powerfully Built Man and a Little Man

To many Easterners the center of a person’s spirit and strength is a point within the abdominal cavity two inches below the navel. This special point is called the tai ten, tanden, tan-tien, tan, seika-tanden, or simply “the one point.” In addition to being your body’s center of gravity, the one point is also the center of kienergy, spirit, aura, vitality, life force, inner strength.

The one point can be compared to the boiler of a steam engine. When your mind is concentrated on it, energy is created and distributed throughout your body, and your body is able to move quickly and powerfully. Athletes, if they are not already, should be very interested in learning more about ki.

R. E. West, a powerfully built Western black belt judoka (practitioner of judo) who knew very little about ki and the one point, asked an old, 130-pound Japanese master for a demonstration of its power. The two men sat on their knees facing each other. Each placed his right hand on the other’s chest. Hard as West tried, he couldn’t budge the old man. Then the old man gave a slight push and West flew backward. The master then said it was only because of the power in his one point that he could knock West over.

Samurai men and women going into battle concentrated on the one point.

How to Draw the Power of Ki

The way to draw the power of ki is very easy. Just concentrate your mind fully on your one point. Look at your stomach and find the point two inches directly below your navel. Now press it hard with your finger. This will leave a residual feeling of where the one point is. Then simply visualize. Don’t look at it, just imagine it as a point, a dot, and concentrate on it.

Now that you’ve located the one point, practice beginning your everyday actions with your attention on it until it becomes second nature to you. Before starting any task, any task at all, first think of your one point—sitting down at your desk, starting a meeting, going to a party, entering a sales conference, starting a race—whatever. If you devote yourself to concentrating on your one point, it will gradually become a habit. Until it does you will have to remind yourself: “Hey, concentrate on your one point.”

When you’re able to remember to begin at least some of your acts from the one point, become a little more ambitious. Get in the habit of concentrating on the one point when you’re upset or irritated. You’ll find yourself becoming calm and tranquil and strong at the same time.

After you’ve started the habit of one-point concentration, begin to use it during times of more severe tension and nervousness. When you’re troubled and your thoughts and emotions are shooting around like rockets, or you are facing an inner or outer block, concentrate on your one point. When you’re discouraged and are thinking, “This time I’ve reached rock-bottom; everything is against me now,” simply concentrate on your one point. Don’t think of yourself as a discouraged person; think of yourself as a strong person with powerful ki.

Breathing

“If you know the art of breathing you have the strength, wisdom and courage of ten tigers.” Chinese adage

The psychotherapist Wilhelm Reich used the word “streamings” to describe energy in the human body. He said that at times streamings flow, and other times they’re dammed up. They flow when you’re optimistic, when you’re not tense or worried, when your expectations of success are high. When they flow you experience an inner glow. You have a completely new sense of courage and self-confidence. Reich’s concept, “streamings,” may seem strange to some people, but it certainly wouldn’t to the practitioners of ki breathing. He would call it ki and state that what Reich says it does, it does. And modern technology is helping to prove Reich was exactly right.

According to a research project undertaken by M.I.T., there actually is an electrical energy field around the human body, and it can be regulated in exactly the way Easterners regulate it—by breathing in a particular way.

Ki is very closely related to breathing, and that’s why it’s sometimes translated as “breath.” The M.I.T. research demonstrated that the breathing exercises in fact thicken the energy field. Everyone has a ki energy field around him or her, but martial arts practitioners using ki breathing techniques actually have a different kind of field than the average person. Using modern photographic processes, the field can even be seen!

In one of the most dramatic demonstrations of ki, Kirlian photography was used to film karateka Teruyuki Yamada breaking a one-inch board with a ki-powered blow. Now there’s nothing amazing about a punch breaking a board. But it is amazing that the punch never hit the board. Playing the film in very slow motion revealed that the board actually snapped when Yamada’s fist was still an inch away from it. What had shattered the wood was the pressurized force of the ki field between the board and the fist!

Ki is also curative. For centuries Chinese healers have used their knowledge of chi to manipulate its flow in sick patients. Physicians in various Western countries are using electrical energy stimulation to heal a variety of body injuries, often with extraordinary results. Russian sports scientists photograph streams of electrical energy in and around athletes’ bodies, then use lasers to stimulate its flow to heal injuries and treat fatigue and emotional disturbances, such as depression and anxiety.

Deep abdominal, diaphragmatic breathing has been shown to have particular health advantages over “high chest,” shallow breathing. Medical researchers estimate that up to 80 per cent of all diseases are attributable to nervous problems. Worry, nervousness, anxiety, anger, and stress narrow our capillaries and restrict the flow of blood carrying fresh oxygen. By breathing the right way, you can open your capillaries and send oxygen freely throughout your body. Diaphragmatic ki breathing also increases your physical strength. That’s another reason why people are so interested in sanchin, “breathing exercises.”

There is breathing high and breathing low. Westerners breathe high. We are taught “stomach in, chest out.” Our breathing is done high in our chest. Ki breathing is done low. It’s bringing the inhaled air far down in the lungs. In other words, as far as ki development is concerned we have learned to breathe wrong. Right breathing is “chest in, stomach out.” It’s breathing from the abdomen—it’s diaphragmatic breathing.

If you’re conscientious about practicing your ki breathing you may come to breathe this way all the time. Most people, however, even if they don’t forever after breathe in the ki way, use it as an alternative way of breathing. When confronted with disturbing situations, when in trouble or doubt, or when they’re in need of a pick-me-up, they simply drop their normal high chest breathing and launch into deep abdominal ki breathing.

Technique

To prepare yourself to use ki breathing whenever you wish:

-Get in a comfortable, relaxed position—your weight on your legs and feet, lying on your back, or sitting comfortably.

–Concentrate your attention on your one point. Remember it’s the center of gravity point located two inches below your navel. Throughout your ki breathing keep your mind on your one point. When your thoughts wander from it don’t fight them, just gently nudge your attention back to your one point.

–Get rid of the carbon dioxide in your lungs by opening your mouth and making a slow, steady “haaa” sound as you breathe out for ten seconds. When you think you’re out of breath make one last hard “ha.”

–Inhale slowly, evenly and deeply through your nose in one uninterrupted motion taking four or five seconds. Concentrate on bringing your breath far down. Imagine your diaphragm swelling out like a balloon and your breath pressing your one point from inside your stomach. Your breathing should be going on in your diaphragm and not in your chest. Your chest should be moving very little, if at all.

–Your attention still on your one point, and your breath pressing against it, hold your breath for five to ten seconds.

–Then exhale deeply, but slowly and evenly through your mouth. Pull in your abdominal muscle to force out as much carbon dioxide as possible. If you get out of breath just stop and breathe in your usual way for a few seconds. Then start your ki breathing again.

Try to practice this method of ki breathing at least five minutes twice each day. If you set aside time every day for ki breathing you’ll feel the effects of it not only when you’re actually doing it, but throughout the day.

If you’re like a lot of people and twice a day is asking a lot, at least learn how to do your breathing so you can launch into it when you’re upset or unsettled, or when you just feel like it.

It doesn’t take long to get the hang of it and once you do you can do it whenever you wish. When your ki is lively, you react confidently and quickly. If it’s clouded and negative, you hesitate and become awkward and indecisive. Therefore, keep your ki flowing all day long

After you have become accustomed to deep abdominal ki breathing you can do it anywhere—in a cab, on a train, at your desk, while walking down the street, in an elevator. Whenever you need ki simply breathe down to your one point.

Points to Remember Blog Posts I, II, and III: The Doctrine of Ki

–Remember to “Fill yourself with ki.” (Ki o mitasu) Do it as often as you can. In particular, do it to increase your expectations of success and whenever you experience defeat.

–Ki is energy, a frame of mind or attitude, and it’s a force that you communicate to other people.

–Positive ki creates positive power in your actions and positive responses in others. Negative ki creates negative actions and responses.

–Make certain you never forget the personal power formula of shinkiryoku (mind-energy-strength). Your frame of mind determines how much energy you have and the amount of power you live and work with. You can choose how much power you will communicate by choosing what you will think.

–To increase your ki and ryoku power: (1) transmit your ki, (2) concentrate on your one point two inches below your navel, and (3) breathe diaphragmatically.

–The time will come when you realize you have been neglecting your ki development. Whenever that happens, go back to these posts and refresh your memory of how you can increase your ki and ryoku power whenever you want.

© 2014 David J. Rogers

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The Doctrine of Ki, Part II: Clearing Your Mind, Increasing Your Strength

“If your mind is preoccupied, your ki tenses, and you become awkward.”

“Form follows ki, and ki follows the mind.”

(Adapted from the eBook Fighting to Win: Samurai Techniques for Your Work and Life, David J. Rogers, Crossroad Press, 2014)

Shin is your frame of mind, ki is your vital energy, and ryoku is your power. They always go together, and they may fill you with strength or with weakness. In this post we’ll look at shin and whether it is yielding strength or weakness.

A Common Tale

I have two friends, Jack and Bob, who seem to me to be similar in many ways. However, in spite of their similarities, they’re very different. Jack is discouraged and depressed easily, and sees work life (and personal life too) as a burden full of trouble that one has to suffer through.

Bob, on the other hand, is buoyant, energetic and optimistic. Both men have suffered setbacks in business and outside it, but they react to them very differently. Jack dwells on his. He moans and becomes grumpy and irritable. Bob picks himself up and reenters the stream of life eager to see what lies ahead.

Jack endures his job the way one endures a dreaded disease. He has told me more than once that whatever he touches turns to shit. Bob moves quickly from one success to another.

A major difference between these two otherwise similar men is the difference in their frame of mind, their shin. Because their shin is very different, so are their ki and ryoku. Bob’s ki is positive and his power of action is all right there, 100 percent. Jack’s ki is negative and his power is almost nonexistent. Their shin is a difference that makes all the difference.

Olympic Athletes and You

What separates winners from losers? What differentiates Olympic athletes from other world-class competitors? According to a group of researchers who studied America’s top wrestlers, the difference is not in physical ability. And it’s not in training methods: they’re pretty standard. The difference is in the athletes’ frame of mind, their shin—in what they think.

Men who were eliminated in U.S. Olympic trials tended to be more confused or depressed before the match—that’s very bad shin— while the winners were positive and relaxed, which is very good shin. Those who made the Olympic team were more in control of their reactions than the losers, who were more likely to become upset emotionally.

Without seeing even one wrestling match, the researchers were able to predict 92% of the winners by using profiles of the athletes.

Feeling free and easy, being relaxed and calm, not being caught up in problems or worries, thinking positively and optimistically, expecting to do well, being committed to what you’re doing, not being grumpy or irritable, feeling fearless, buoyant and confident … all these are positive shin, positive ki, ryoku power-producers.

Experiencing worry, anger or hostility, losing heart, being afraid of something lying ahead of you, worrying, expecting defeat, holding a grudge, feeling timid or uneasy and being confused in action . . . these are examples of negative shin, negative ki, power-depleters.

Exercises for Transmitting Your Ki

  • Reflect on your thought habits and change negative to positive. Many people, possibly most, simply don’t realize how much negative ki they’re creating. To find out for yourself, a useful technique is to stop the action for five minutes once a day and write down your thoughts as they pop into your head. After you’ve filled a few sheets of paper put a plus sign after each positive ki thought and a minus sign after each negative thought you’ve listed. Any thought that creates power, good chemistry with others, optimism or forward movement gets a plus; and any thought that diminishes your power, creates bad chemistry, is pessimistic or prevents you from moving forward toward your goals and responsibilities gets a minus.Ask yourself, “Which predominates, positive or negative?”
  • Reject negative shin thoughts and replace them with positive, power-producing thoughts. Do this whenever a negative thought appears in your mind. Whenever your thoughts drift off to the negative, stop them, then substitute positive shin thoughts—“I like this person.” “I’m having a good time.” “We can work this out.” “I’m happy.” “I’m going to succeed.” Always reject negative ki and consciously replace it with positive.
  • Spit. To add determination to your rejection of negative thoughts, spit out the troublesome thought. Go “thoo” and spit out the thought.
  • Pay special attention to “red alert,” negative ki thoughts. Whenever you feel any of the following–afraid, scared; confused, indecisive; distracted, upset; depressed, sad or miserable; worried, nervous, anxious, upset, tense, pressured; beaten down, defeated, your spirits sagging; listless, unmotivated and bored; shy, non-assertive, timid; defensive, ready to hit back, bitter; guilty–your ki is negative, your ryoku power is weak. Right away, remind yourself of shin-ki-ryoku. Tell yourself, “Remember, make your thoughts pure and transmit your ki.”
  • Control your expectations. Negative-expectations, negative-ki people are that way only out of habit. By developing new, more positive shin thought habits you condition yourself to have positive expectations and you put more power into your actions. More than 100 studies of 15,000 people show that those who expect to succeed are happier, healthier, and more successful. Always jump to the positive. Be like a fish that is swimming in one direction, but can quickly turn and go in the opposite.
  • Constantly remind yourself of the importance of positive shin, positive ki. Make a pact with someone. If one of you is becoming tight, irritable or gloomy, the other is to say, “C’mon now. Don’t forget. Transmit your ki.
  • Write out reminders on three-by-five index cards and put them in prominent places around your house and office. “Plus creates plus.” “Good shin creates good ki creates power.” Read them aloud, and with feeling, from time to time. On each card draw a large minus sign and a large plus sign. Draw an arrow from the minus to the plus to remind yourself to move your negative thoughts to positive.(Martial artist Bruce Lee visualized his negative thoughts written on a piece of paper, then saw himself wadding the paper into a ball, lighting it with a match and watching it burn to a crisp. He said the thoughts never returned to disturb him.)
  • Draw a ring of harmony around yourself wherever you are. You can generate goodwill and cooperation by imagining a yellow ring of harmony around you constantly. Make the ring red or blue if you like—the color doesn’t matter. All that matters is your imagining the ring around yourself and making certain that whenever another person passes into it, there is cooperation and harmony between you.
  • Stop judging others negatively. People can pick up very quickly if you’re thinking they’re dumb, nasty, unpleasant, overly talkative, ugly, poorly dressed, too highly paid for what they do, etc. If they sense that you don’t like them, they won’t like you. So instead, like them, respect them, find real value in them, even if you have to work hard at it.
  • Be generous with your feelings. If you like people, let them know about it. Transmit your ki to them. Much of the negative ki in business is caused by the supervisor who always criticizes and never praises. Parents often do the same with their children. Simply let people know you appreciate what they’re doing and morale will improve immediately—in business and in the home.
  • See your positive ki being passed from you to others. See it as a ray of white light being transmitted by you to another person or a whole group of people. Actually visualize it moving from you to them under the direction of your mind.
  • Maintain your ki even in defeat. Everyone gets beaten. The question is not whether you’ll experience defeat, but how you’ll handle it when you do. When you’re beaten—by another person, an event, a situation—keep your ki positive and strong. Never let the defeat “penetrate your depths,” never let it get to your shin. When you havc a crisis, positive shin can rescue you. Be able to say, “I lost this one (job, person, disagreement, etc.) but I’m not defeated. I’ve failed, but I’m not a failure. I’ve still got the only solution I need—me. ” Even in defeat—especially in defeat—keep your ki going full blast.

You can choose how much power you will have by choosing what to think.

© 2014 David J. Rogers

The Next Post

The next post will show that “the way to draw the power of ki is very easy,” and that “If your ki is settled, your actions will flow.”

 

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The Doctrine of Ki, Part I: How To Acquire Charisma and a Powerful Spirit

(Adapted from the eBook Fighting to Win: Samurai Techniques for Your Work and Life, David J. Rogers, Crossroad Press, 2014)

“Fill yourself with ki” (Ki o mitasu)

An Extraordinary Form of Power

For centuries Eastern warriors have sought to cultivate an extraordinary form of personal power. It is called “ki” (pronounced “key”) in Japan, chi (“chee”) in China and prana in India. We really have no one word in English that adequately conveys the full meaning of ki. Approximations include energy, spirit, aura, vitality, vital spirit, breath, life force, and inner strength. It’s simply ki. The warrior doesn’t really care very much what something is called, but only if it actually works and, if it does, how to make it work.

Warriors are pragmatic people.

After learning how a person could generate ki through simple physical and mental exercises, one night I actually tried it. Then before boarding a commuter train to take me to a lecture I was to give, I tried it again. I felt as though I were floating two inches off the ground the whole day. I experienced an energy and power I had never known before. The day went beautifully, almost blissfully. Everything was absolutely right. It wasn’t only that my mind was sharp: the energy was simply phenomenal.

Some time after that I had breakfast with a friend. He told me that he had been “off” recently. He was going through a rough period He had a hell of a lot of work to do, hard decisions to make, and was operating under a lot of pressure. But try as he would, he simply could not get himself together, and the work was piling up.

All I did that morning in a short fifteen minutes was describe my experience with ki and suggest how he could develop his own if he wanted. Writing on a napkin, I outlined the steps he could follow. We paid the check, left, and that was that.

Two weeks later he telephoned to thank me.

“Thank me for what?” I asked.

“That ki business,” he said. He went on to tell me that since we had talked that morning he had experienced the most fruitful two weeks in his entire life. After our breakfast he had gone to his office and immediately taken out the napkin and followed the steps.

“I haven’t been the same since.” Decisions he couldn’t make before, he was now able to make easily. He had felt heavy and listless before; now he felt strong, buoyant, and energetic. What had seemed like insurmountable problems before suddenly had become mere stepping stones to progress.

You are more likely to overcome obstacles that have been stopping you and to achieve your purposes if you have a powerful spirit.

A journalist who only read what I wrote about ki in Fighting to Win because she was going to interview me said essentially the same thing. She got her start by doing her ki breathing while sitting in her tub! She said, “You know, it works and it’s amazing.”

Those experiences with ki taught me that even a minimum of information about this unusual form of power can lead to positive and sometimes extraordinary changes in a person’s life. It’s a learning that’s been confirmed many times since.

What my friend, the journalist, and I had experienced for ourselves were two features of naiki, the samurai “doctrine of ki:” energy and mental control. We had learned that if you use your mind and body in a certain way you can create an unusual form of energy field that can change your life.

 The Formula: Shin makes Ki makes Ryoku

 The samurai men and women were first and foremost superb warriors. That’s what they were trained for. That was their occupation. But they were something of psychologists too—psychologists of action. They knew that three things always go together:

1. Your frame of mind or attitude (shin)

2. Your vital energy (ki)

3. A force—a strength—coming out from you that affects other people, and sometimes very powerfully (ryoku).

 Shin makes ki makes ryoku

Shin is psychological; ki is psycho-physical; ryoku is physical.

Charisma is Powerful Ki

Some actors on the stage or in films possess charisma. Intuitively we all recognize charisma when we see it, and can identify who has it and who does not. Charismatic actors and other performers only have to make their entrance and the audience is in awe. Why? Because they are handsome or beautiful? Often they are not. Because of their voices? Their voice may not even pleasant. Because of their talent? It may, in fact, be almost non-existent.

That charm, that attraction caused by the performer’s whole being in which even faults are turned to advantage is not inexplicable as has been said. It is the direct effect of ki on an audience. And it can be cultivated. Charisma is accessible to everyone.

Speaker A at a conference may be extremely articulate and extremely bright and extremely knowledgeable—far more so than Speaker B. Yet Speaker B may be the one you are impressed with and will remember. That is not at all unusual. B is not as smart or as good a speaker or as knowledgeable, but she has powerful ki coming out of her. Why? Because her shin, ki, and ryoku are in order and are functioning full blast.

© 2014 David J. Rogers

 

In coming posts we will  be discussing naiki, the doctrine of ki. Or you may wish to refer to chapter four of Fighting to Win: Samurai Techniques for Your Work and Life.

Till then, remember: KEEP YOUR KI STRONG AND LIVELY.

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Are You a Zombie? A One-Second Yes or No Quiz

zombie-156138_150I’m wondering if something like this has ever happened to you:

I went to a company I’d never visited before to do consulting with them. I opened the front door and walked in and something was wrong. “What is this?” I thought, looking round. “Everyone is so SLOW. They’re moving slow; they’re talking slow. He’s slow and she’s slow. The janitor is slow and the CEO is slow. The whole work force is slow. They’re just slow.”

My first job after college was with a very slow company. I’ve been to many slow companies, slow people from top to bottom.

Do you know slow companies, slow people like that? Do they drive you nuts?

They’re lethargic. They take forever to make decisions. Meetings never start on time. There’s never a sense of urgency about anything. When they were students employees turned their papers in late and made excuses. Now, grown up and in a job, they haven’t changed. They turn their assignments in late and still make excuses—and no one seems to care. Deadlines don’t mean a thing if they’re inconvenient.

In a graduate course I was taking the assignment was to do a research paper and present the results in a ten-minute oral presentation. I sat there listening and thought one presentation after another was terrible. Now I knew everyone and knew that they were smarter and more knowledgeable than their presentations would suggest. I decided that they were under-performing because they weren’t setting their standards high enough. The whole class was settling for mediocrity and no one wanted to be the first to say “I’m one person who’s not going to settle for mediocrity.” They didn’t want to be the first to break the mediocrity norm.

In the same way, in some companies and non-profit organizations and schools bad habits creep in and a never-spoken-of agreement develops that no one is to work too hard. The whole organization then becomes slow. But put hard-working dynamos among them and watch the tempo pick up. Once the first student in that class gave an exceptional presentation, the habit of mediocrity was broken and the presentations that followed were very good.

I point out in my book Waging Business Warfare that business competitions are won by companies made up of “movers and firers,” enthusiastic, energetic, high-spirited people who have this in common: they always want to get into the action and mix it up with the competition. They improve morale, that miraculous state of mind producing determination, zeal, and the will to win. Quarterback great John Brodie said that at times the whole team rises up a notch or two. That’s the effect movers and firers have.

 The Erwin Rommel Gauge

Erwin Rommel, the legendary German Field Marshall in WW II—the “Desert Fox” whose Blitzkrieg attacks emphasized speed above everything—said that you can tell which side is going to win the battle simply by watching the tempo with which troops move. I think that’s true of businesses and people in any walk of life, and in their personal lives too.

I would bet that using the Rommel measuring stick of employee work tempo we could predict the probable winners of business competitions, fast companies being more likely to win than slow companies.

I’d expect that skill level being more or less the same and personality issues being similar, the person with the quicker work tempo would get the promotion over the slower candidate.

So I would think the fast employee will make more money and climb higher.

I would suspect too that work tempo directly affects a company’s productivity and profitability.

 Achievers and Zombies

Some people you know move through life at an accelerated clip. They’re DECISIVE. They’re QUICK. But others you know are locked in neutral, or are moving in reverse. They’re walking under water. They’re in a stupor. It’s noon before they realize they’re alive. They’re zombies.

Achievers do things fast. They know that when things are done lethargically, seven out of ten turn out poorly. They’ve got ENERGY. They’ve got ZEST. They’re EXCITABLE. Their by-word is “RIGHT NOW!”

  1. Get in the habit of deciding what you want to do and doing it decisively, even if it’s just taking a drink of water. If you drink, DRINK.
  2. Fall in love with action.
  3. Whatever it is, do it now.
  4. Be impatient with delay.
  5. Set the standard for speed.
  6. Guard against becoming a zombie.
  7. If you’re in a slow company be a norm-breaker, be a mover and firer.
  8. When a flint strikes steel, sparks fly. Be a flint striking steel. Make sparks.

The first archaeologist to the tomb, the first person to a goal, the first runner to the tape, and the first company to the market reap the richest rewards.

Whatever you’re doing, pick up the tempo.

© 2014 David J. Rogers

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How to Win Your Business Wars

cannon-309152_150My interest is in helping people achieve. My book Fighting to Win: Samurai Techniques for Your Work and Life is based on the philosophy that to reach fulfillment and achievements in very practical ways every person must become highly skilled at overcoming a variety of obstacles, most of them in ourselves. The book teaches those skills and has been very well received.

Then people started asking me for ideas that would relate to the realities of business that they faced every day, particularly the business competitions that affected their livelihood. Now it is obvious that the most intense form of competition is warfare. So I set to work organizing my research and thoughts relating business and warfare. The result was my book Waging Business Warfare: Lessons from the Military Masters in Achieving Competitive Superiority.

Let me introduce you to it now.

The Name of this Game is Competition

Where there are profits to be made, as surely as the sun will rise tomorrow there will be competition. And at times the competition will be intense, and the fate of businesses and careers may depend on who at the end of the fray has a higher share of those profits.

You may say, “We are not obsessed with the competition, with competing.” But your competitors may have an-us-versus-them mentality and be obsessed with you. They do not have your best interests at heart, to put it mildly. The promise of profits makes what is now yours appealing to them.

So it is wise, as it is said in warfare, to be prepared for anything.

 A Radio Station That Wanted to Win

I’d just finished being interviewed about Waging Business Warfare on a radio station when the station General Manager poked her head into the studio and invited me into her office.

“I love what you have to say,” she said. “If only we’d known this stuff a few years ago we’d be a lot better off than we are today.”

The station’s ratings and advertising revenues were in the middle of the pack. But the General Manager had high ambitions and hired me to apply the Principles of War—the basis of my book—to her operation by training her personnel and developing a strategic and tactical plan based on those principles that could be implemented quickly.

All the staff were involved in training, from the newest and least senior person to on-air jocks. (Who had a lot to contribute.) The training was based on the notion that people have an unlimited ability to learn new information, master new tasks, and adapt to new responsibilities.

It challenged staff, and they became deeply involved and responded with great enthusiasm. The training was given over a four-week period and a strategic/tactical plan of action was developed, distributed to everyone who had participated in training, and then was implemented immediately.

 Business Failures: A Dismal Story

Six hundred thousand new companies will open in the United States this year, many on-line, and start competing with all the optimism in the world. Many businessmen and businesswomen will have been dreaming about starting their business for years. Ten per cent will succeed, but 9 out of 10 will have competitive difficulties and will fail, and those dreams will be shattered.

They will lose their business war because they aren’t prepared to compete, and someone else who is better prepared will win.

A Vocabulary You Already Have

It’s not hard for business people to see the connection between business and warfare. When business theorists looked for a model as they were starting the field of business strategy they studied warfare.

The language of warfare already permeates the business vocabulary. Where do businesses compete? On the “battle ground.” Companies “launch offensives.” On the advertising and marketing “fronts”, they take “preemptive moves,” “battle” for market share, and engage in price “wars.” Small companies justifiably call themselves “guerrillas” and sales reps everywhere are “the troops,” the “foot soldiers.” They work on “the firing line.” And where does the real action of any company take place? In the “trenches.” Companies “seize the offensive” and “flank” the competition.

 Intense Competition

Realizing that warfare is too important to be left to chance (there is no margin of error in warfare), the great practitioners of war–the master strategists, kings, and generals throughout history that populate the book–looked for hard and fast guidelines, blueprints for victory that could not fail but to lead to success.

They agreed on a small number of universal truths, now called the Principles of War. Those principles make the study of warfare not just a group of disorganized notions and random ideas, but a complete, supremely well thought-out and tested science, one that predates the study of business management and marketing by thousands of years.

Business as a form of warfare subject to the Principles of War is the core competitive approach of some of the most profitable and fastest-growing companies in the world. During the PC wars between Microsoft and Apple, and between iOS and Android in the smart phone wars, the Principles of War were and are being applied. That’s why winners—small companies or large– are victorious, though they might not realize that fact.

The Principles of Waging Business Warfare in Brief

  1. Good leadership is the first requisite of competitive superiority. An army of deer led by a lion is more to be feared than an army of lions led by a deer.
  2. Maintain your objective; adjust your plan. Winners focus on only one thing: the main objective. They don’t wander off on tangents. But no plan survives the first contact with the competition, so you must adjust the plan.
  3. Concentrate greater strength at the decisive point. The cause of most successes in business and warfare both can be summarized for brevity in just one word: “concentration.” Yet in business, concentration is the most often neglected principle.
  4. Take the offensive and maintain mobility. The side whose strategic and tactical ideas are superior will usually gain the upper hand and do so soon after the competition begins and at less cost than the other side. You cannot win unless at some point you take the offensive. Many businesses do not seem to know this.
  5. Follow the course of least resistance. Never get into a pissing contest with a porcupine.
  6. Achieve security. Know your competitors, know how their leaders think, know the desires of the consumers of today and tomorrow—and the day after.
  7. Make certain all personnel play their part. High productivity is an offensive weapon, and it is never equal on both sides. Like armies, businesses will go only as far as their personnel will take them. You want action-oriented “movers and firers” who always want to get into the action.

 The Radio Station with the Will to Win

The radio station implemented the strategic and tactical plan we had developed and the personnel applied what training had taught them. The station quickly shot to number one in the market in not one, but all its demographics, and its advertising revenues rose accordingly.

In addition, as expected, staff morale sky-rocketed. Intense competitions are exciting for the people engaged in them, whether they are between American-Japanese-Korean-German-French-Swedish auto manufacturers or between Verizon and AT&T and between basic cable and Direct Broadcast Satellite TV or between beer and spirits breweries, between one restaurant and another restaurant, or aggressive competitors of any size in any line of business in any city or town in any country on earth.

© 2014 David J. Rogers

Order Fighting to Win: Samurai Techniques for Your Work and Life eBook by David J. Rogers

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