Tag Archives: pulling

Yanking Your Chain

I am going to yank your chain…

And as a true Christian Hermetic, I’m going to yank it in four ways — literally, allegorically, morally and mystically.


Yanking is a martial arts tactic too often neglected.  Pretty or flashy? Not even a little.  Elegant?  Only in it’s efficiency.  Brutally effective?  Heck yes.  Intro video below.


Nobody likes being pushed and yet, in martial arts as well as in life, pushing is the norm.  Parents push kids, spouses push spouses, bosses push employees, and so on.  Pulling, on the other hand, often works better if you have the patience.

Extend your hand and people will usually take it.  Give it a gentle pull and they will walk with you.  Wait for an employee to step up and then pull them into a project and you will get far better results than if you pushed.  Create an opportunity vacuum and pull collaborators into the open space.

In martial arts, if you are patient, wait for your opponent to push and then give a yank.  Then watch what happens.


Moralizing — a.k.a. “finger-wagging” — is as old as time.  Interestingly, despite the fact that it doesn’t work,  everybody hates it, and God said not to do it, holier-than-thou behavior is never out of style.

Here’s the thing: people are really smart, and they copy other people who are smart, successful and worthy of admiration.  The best way to get people to clean up their behavior is to shut your mouth and focus on cleaning up your own.  Pull other people in the right direction, like moons pulled into a planet’s orbit by gravity.  Everybody will be happier including you.

and Mystically

Something that pulls without touching is called alluring which has the same root as lure.  A lure is of course a thing used to get a fish on the line so that you can pull it in.  So, to pull you into the project that my son and I started this past weekend I’m just going to allure you with a photo set and minimal words.  How’s that for yanking your chain?

[Today is the 12th anniversary of my father’s passing and during the project I was conscious that the date was approaching.  He was on my mind.  And I thought that if he was around, he would’ve really appreciated the mysterious thing that we’re creating.  So I made sure to use my father’s tools so that he could be in the project with us.  Rest easy Pop, thanks for the help!]





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Pulling Instead of Pushing

I have been in leadership positions for over 25 years, from raising kids and teaching martial arts to business management and personnel coaching roles.  One of the secrets to my success, as I pointed out in my booklet LEAD!, is pulling people instead of pushing them.  Very few people are motivated by pushing, but almost everybody responds to a pull.

What’s the difference between pushing and pulling?

  1. Pushing:  “Did you forget that the deadline is tomorrow?  If you don’t make that deadline it’s going to be a disaster!  What are you doing to make sure that you’re going to make the deadline?”
  2. Pulling: “We’re going to need to work together to hit that deadline tomorrow.  What do you think we should do to make sure we do?  What can I do to help?”

Pushing is like shoving a person in the direction you want them to go.  Pulling is like taking someone by the hand and leading them toward a mutually beneficial destination.

Just now I saw a tweet (see below) and I clicked the link.  In it, world famous life coach Tony Robbins talks about the three types of motivation — pushing, pulling, and incentive — and relates a story about how he used pull motivation to encourage President Obama to change his second term governing strategy.  Not a huge fan of Tony Robbins, but this is basic stuff, and he got this right.  If you’re not using pull motivation, your leadership engine is not running at maximum potential.

The same goes for martial arts.  If you are not using pulling strategies in addition to pushing ones, you’ll never fully control the space in which the conflict takes place.  There are three ways to get an opponent where you want them — you can push them, you can pull them, and you can draw them — and they all have their time and place.

On the mat or in self defense you can use pushing to your heart’s content.  You are, after all, involved in a conflict.  But in leadership, use pushing to your peril.  People don’t like conflict and they don’t like to be pushed.  They’d much rather be pulled.