Saturday, March 05, 2016

Martial Arts in the Workplace

(thanks for the inspiration PG, JA, KM and others)

Dammit...another Tuesday (or Friday) in the office late.  Kali bag next to the desk...unable to go to class.  Another Kali-less week.
In between meetings, emails, conference calls, business trips trying to remember the techniques of the cycle.

Best intentions and all that...but it's very frustrating, right?

Work can be extremely stressful.  These days we all work in very high pressure, results-driven environments.  Everyone is pushing hard for the KPIs and expecting that we are available 24/7 for conference calls and with nearly instant responses to email.

This loss of control over our schedules and lives leads many people into burnout, depression or worse.  Many people complain about anxiety, panic attacks and disruption to their sleeping, eating and exercising routines.  The pressure on relationships is intense, with partners feeling preoccupied, distracted and too tired to be involved.

I have always stressed that martial arts is not just about fighting.  We use the dojo as a laboratory for our lives - we explore and challenge, we set and achieve goals, we work together and improve ourselves and each other.  Drills not only push us to sharpen physically, but mentally as well.  We improve our focus and discipline, we prove to ourselves again and again that we are WINNERS who can achieve what we set out to do.  Training also gives us courage and patience to endure difficult situations.

Speaking from my own experience, the hardest times I had at work in recent memory involved several months of 14 hour days, plus 3 hours of commute in total back and forth.  I felt exhausted all the time and kept wondering how long I would keep it up before I gave out and ended up in the hospital.  All I did was sleep and work.  Breakfast was from 7-11, lunch was at my desk, and dinner was usually 7-11 as well.  My life was a blur.  The days, weeks, months just flew by without me being able to slow down or take a holiday.

In the end, I achieved the result, albeit with a heavy cost.  Not even a Thank You from the company for my sacrifice.  Soon after I was forced into another, lesser job.  To be honest, I didn't do it for them.  I am not sure I even did it for myself. I did it for the team members that went through it with me, those that depended on me to lead them and not fail.  I felt I couldn't let them down.  Maybe they felt the same - so night after night we struggled on together.

What kept me going was still my martial arts training.  Mentally, I was tough enough to keep going, day after day, night after night, call and mail after call and mail.  I knew that one day this too would end, and so I tried to keep focused on my team and the goals we had in front of us.  We planned our work and worked our plan, inch by inch until we made it.  It wasn't pretty and there was no big celebration at the end - no victory lap, no parade.

For my students who have been very busy lately - I get it.
You are in a fight, just like I was.
Stay in the moment.  Stay aware.  Use your training and your strength to keep going until you reach your goals.  Don't do it for anyone else.  DEFINITELY don't do it for your company (who most likely won't even care).  Do it because, like all warriors, when we are in a fight we do whatever it takes to be the one that walks away.  Do it because you know you cannot be broken.
Prove to yourself what you already know.  You. Are. Invincible.

Do it so you can get through it and come back to class.

See you soon.

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