Sunday, September 21, 2003

Winning against a Big Ego (2)

More hints from the martial arts

Tai Chi (an "internal martial art", by its own definition) is based on the "Ten Essentials". One of them is "Use Intent rather than Force".
Yang Chengfu explains that one can release energy by using intent; if you force things, the energy is blocked. He refers to the saying in the taiji classics: "Only by being extremely soft are you able to achieve extreme hardness."

The lesson here is that the Little Person should focus their energy on where they want the organization, or the Big Ego, to go. Trying to force the issue against a Big Ego will simply lead to resistance, and pain. If you look to the outcome you seek -- more emphasis on a particular product function, say -- many routes will appear. Simply confronting the problem -- disinterest in a given group in some customer's problem -- will generate resistance. One also has to think hard about what outcome is desired before acting. In the example, perhaps the outcome isn't, in fact, a new product feature; it could be a deeper understanding in the design organization about a customer's problem.

Yang Chengfu's description of the antithesis of tai chi is applicable to some Big Ego's I've come across: "Someone who practices external martial arts, when he is using his force, seems very strong. But when not using force, he is very light and floating. By this we can see that his force is actually external, or superficial strength. The force used by external martial artists is especially easy to lead or deflect, hence it is not of much value."

Easy for Yang Chenfu, perhaps... And here's the second lesson: one can reach that level of skill, but it will require practice, practice, and more practice.

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