Businesses And Dojos: Seeing The SimilaritiesMarch 26, 2020
I met an accomplished young man whose story inspired me and got me thinking about the tools he had to achieve incredible things. He had perhaps every challenge a child could have by society’s standards, from dyslexia to an alcoholic single mother. Naturally, he took to the streets and stepped into trouble, but circumstances changed when he became involved with a local martial arts center. In mere months, he zipped through several ranks, won competitions, and ended with a scholarship and a good entrepreneurial start in life.
Life‘s challenges can be triumphed through the application of strategies, focus, and some hard work. I’ve since thought about this young man, and examined the martial arts programs, and their efficient strategies have actually helped me with my own enterprise.
I believe every business should implement a few key practices typically had in a dojo. Dojo, translates to “place of the way” and is where the boy could be found multiple times a week practicing martial arts. A dojo has a sanctuary-like feel, and is respected as such to ensure it’s cleanliness and organization remain intact. It is regarded as a sacred, respected place – a space in which training, teaching, and special ceremonies are held. Because it is so effective and good grounds for fast progress, I’ve looked into what a business could learn from a dojo.
The first thing I believe businesses need more of is a respected space. Dojos conjure a sense of respect by having people take their shoes off. More than a cleanliness matter, it’s about showing a sense of reverence for the grounds. A student also bows upon entrance and exit. To bow and remove footwear are just symbols of honor, so I’m not suggesting that is what needs to happen in the workplace. The thing to notice here is there are practices that can be implemented to motivate the same kind of respect in the work space as can be found in a dojo.
Businesses can also learn to reward the achievements of its team members at any level, as demonstrated in a dojo. A dojo shows a clear way to motivate a person to earn her rank, and continue to strive for the next goal. An easy look around a dojo gives a quick understanding of who has earned a rank by the gis (colored belts) that identify the current status and the steps the student took to earn the gis.
A basic principle that is necessary to the success of a business is the clear identification of a long term objective, with milestones and “rewards” along the way. The ranking system in a dojo makes it easy for anyone to know at all times where she is heading, her current progress, and how for along she has come. This lends a bit of vision, checkered with milestones to motivate in shorter, more manageable bits.
I’ve found a few businesses that seem to incorporate many of these principles already. They seem to have a team that enjoys their work, respects the space, and truly likes being there. In the case of Keith Raniere’s NXIVM, similar principles are applied in specialized training groups offered in Executive Success Programs. There is much to learn from the efficiency and organized nature of martial arts.