When I got my first management job I made a lot of mistakes. To be honest, I was a pretty awful leader. So I read some books, and I took what I learned as a martial arts instructor, and I gradually stitched together a management style that seemed to work. Then I layered on top of that foundation all of the things I learned in my spiritual explorations to arrive at what I think is a respectable management skill set.
In those days I was spending several nights a week teaching Taekowndo to inner city kids at the YMCA and for Recs and Parks. That was a learning experience for sure. And I read some really excellent books, like How to Win Friends and Influence People, The Costs of Bad Hiring Decisions and How to Avoid Them, and most of all, Living the Martial Way by Forrest E. Morgan, Maj. USAF. The book-learning and experience helped.
But what really mattered was that I cared about my people, took my responsibility seriously, and genuinely wanted to get better. My greatest asset was my degree in English, which made me a capable communicator. I could write policy, craft memos, stand up and lead meetings, and so forth. I could form sentences that, whether they were spoken or written, had impact. I could use words that inspired people.
To me, leadership is good communication of common vision.
So, although we have lots of cool tech to play with these days, and though we have the best of intentions with regard to safety, I have some concerns about the direction we’re headed in terms of communication in the modern age.
- Electronic games are supplanting open-ended forms of play during which kids learn how to mutually decide what they’re going to do, how to set up and agree on the rules, and generally educate each other how to find and achieve consensus.
- Alarmed by mass shootings and out of fear of violence, modern school policies encourage kids to tattle on each other instead of solving their own interpersonal difficulties, such as bullying.
- Terrified of law suits and other legal troubles, employers encourage employees to tattle and inform on each other instead of solving their own interpersonal issues.
- The liberal arts are increasingly watered down in our SOL-driven primary and secondary schools. Financial concerns are driving more and more students into vocational schools. Reading and writing are taking a back seat to “practical” knowledge.
- Texting and social media — such as the LIKE button — are killing real conversation.
- The web makes it easy for trolls (most of whom don’t have the stones to be nasty face-to-face) to spew negativity and turn discussions into virtual screaming matches.
- The internet smorgasbord of news makes it easy for us to ignore the stories that challenge us and to cherry-pick facts to support our existing points of view.
We need to guard our communications skills wisely. Maybe there’s a reason why our political environment is so divisive these days. Maybe there’s a reason why our leaders seem less capable than ever of unification, of building consensus, and of getting things done.
Are we not men? There’s more to being human than wearing clothes and having thumbs. And if we don’t make an effort to communicate like humans, what exactly are we going to become?
Cabal Fang Workout of the Week #48 — Mobility and Lack Thereof
There is a 99% chance that if you ever have to defend yourself you’re going to be hurt while you do it. Why? Because (a) nice guys don’t go around attacking first at the first sign of trouble, and (b) predators almost always use surprise, or at least blitz-style, attacks.
- Set timer for 2 min rounds with 30 second breaks. Complete 1 round each of Grapevines, Shake ‘n’ Bakes (a.k.a. Up-Downs), Ice Skaters, Mirrors, Curb Touches, Tire Runs (or High Steppers if you don’t have tires), Sprints, and Foot Maneuvers (on toes!). Take as few 12 second breaks as you need to avoid throwing up. 8 x 2:30 = 20 minutes of hell.
- Now put on 4 oz gloves, pair off in twos, and take turns pressuring your handicapped partner. Do a round each with a rock in your shoe, one hand tied to your side, a bandanna over one eye, a strobing flashlight in your face, and a splint on one knee (an escrima stick and an ace bandage works well).¹ Keep moving toward him/her, advancing and pressuring constantly. Try to cut off the workout space so that he/she has to really struggle with movement and defense. Contact commensurate with experience — pressure newbies without striking and present palms for them to hit as targets.
¹ We took our inspiration from Mark Hatmaker’s excellent No Second Chance series of DVDs. Hatmaker is the real deal. Check out the drill he calls “Hop-along.”