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Choice 6: Emotional Kung Fu

Charles C. Manz Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

The greatest martial arts are the gentlest. They allow the attacker the opportunity to fall down. The greatest generals do not rush into every battle. They offer the enemy many opportunities to make self-defeating errors.

—Lao Tzu33

In kung fu, an ancient Chinese art of self-defense, emphasis is placed on using any attacking force to your advantage. Instead of resisting a direct assault, the practitioner averts and redirects the energy. For example, if a punch is thrown at chest level, the defender might fluidly turn 90 degrees to avert the blow while adding an additional push or pull “helping” the attacker to proceed in the direction he or she was already heading. Instead of pitting strength against strength, kung fu calls for using any force thrown your way to actually help you accomplish an outcome that you desire, such as sending opponents to the ground with the energy of their attack.70

As pointed out by the 2,500 year old writings in the Tao Te Ching (known as the Tao), credited to the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu: “The person who initiates the attack is off center and easily thrown.” However, it also goes on to say, “Even so, have respect for an attacker. Never surrender your compassion or use your skill to harm another needlessly.”34 The same logic can be applied to emotional conflicts. Rather than resisting an emotional attack, we can use its energy to work toward a solution.

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3. Thinking beyond Duality

Gerald Harris Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

32


I CHOSE THE TITLE OF THIS CHAPTER CAREFULLY, because the key idea here points directly to how one thinks. What I mean by dual thinking here is not the obviously wrong approach to thinking that says, “Since it is not this, it must be its opposite.” My point here is not to warn people about on-the-surface or oversimplified thinking; in other words, I am not warning against plain lightweight thinking. What I am aiming at here is the slippery process of positionality—taking a position, holding to it, and arguing from it as if it were the absolute truth.


The process of taking a position and defending it leads to polarization and therefore narrow thinking. When I have witnessed really poor planning, often I have observed that it was due to someone’s holding a position and, given their power in the organization, dominating the thinking, planning, and, more importantly, the creative and imagination processes of a group. People who do this are not consciously or intentionally trying to kill creativity. Often they think they are doing the group a favor, saving some time, getting people on the right track. They are not conscious of the trap of dual thinking that they have set up. The polarity they cause kills creativity and innovation with the oversimplification of duality.

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4 What is he trying to accomplish in this role?

Steve Arneson Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

If your boss is any good at all, he has an agenda; he’s trying to accomplish something big in his role. This is a good thing; you want him to have a vision for the department. If that vision aligns with yours, everything’s great. But sometimes his mission is hard to interpret and that’s when you need to dig deep to study his true intent.

Start by determining his philosophical views about your function or discipline. How does he see the field? Which experts does he respect and follow? Is he a traditionalist, or does he want to take the function in a new direction? Get a fix on how your boss looks at his profession. Once you know his point of view, determine how it aligns with yours. Do you share the same beliefs about the future of your chosen field?

Amanda is an expert in software development, and was struggling with her boss about the approach to take in developing new products. To clear the air, I brokered a meeting between Amanda and her boss that focused exclusively on their philosophical visions. By taking the conversation up a notch to their broader world views, we were able to find some common connection points. When it comes to interpreting the moves your boss is making, it’s important to first understand how he sees his craft; this will explain a lot of his initiatives and behavior.

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Medium 9781609948375

Chapter 3 Why We Believe Liars and Play into Their Hands

Carol Kinsey Goman Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

BERNARD MADOFF, MASTER MANIPULATOR AND WORLD-class fraud, bilked thousands of investors out of roughly $20 billion over a period of some 40 years.1 Have you ever wondered why so many people trusted him for so long?

The answer is simple, really: Like all master frauds, he was totally convincing. He had the right credentials, wore the right clothes, belonged to the right clubs, socialized with the right people, and dropped the right names at the right moments—without appearing to be doing anything more sinister than telling an anecdote about an old friend who just happened to be well positioned and well respected. But just as important as all that, people trusted Madoff because they wanted to trust him.

How do I know? Because that’s human nature. And anyone who thinks he or she is too sharp to be taken in by a con man like Bernie Madoff had better read this chapter with particular care.

Recognizing that we are being lied to is an important social and business skill. If it were only a matter of paying closer attention to verbal and nonverbal cues, all that we’d require to become polished deception-detectors is in the previous chapter. But it’s not that simple. Surprisingly small factors—where we meet people, what they wear, what their voices sound like, whether their posture mimics ours, if they mention the names of people we know or admire—can enhance their credibility to the extent that it actually nullifies our ability to make sound judgments about them. Our own unconscious biases, vanities, desires, and self-deceptions only add to the hijacking of our reason. When we put our faith in a co-worker we don’t really know, or hire someone we haven’t properly vetted, or give our life savings to a seemingly nice man on the basis of good vibes, we almost always do so for reasons of which we are completely unaware.

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Medium 9781576753583

3: First things first YOUR EMPLOYEES

Ben Cohen Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Once upon a time, when our grandfathers wore knee pants, the Industrial Revolution was in full swing. “Efficiency experts” were the superstar management consultants of the era. They worked with managers in manufacturing, wholesale, and retail businesses alike to break down the physical aspects of work into irreducible motions that (as the saying went) “any trained monkey could perform.” Their ideal was to dumb down work, to make workers into true wage slaves, as interchangeable as widgets on the assembly line. Employees became commodities.

Some of today’s businesses still conduct their affairs based on this antiquated and dehumanizing ideal. However, as the twenty-first century unfolds, most of us who are privileged to live in the United States are beginning to have a different understanding of the way the world works:

Those facts speak only to one side of the argument for generous compensation. On the other side of the ledger you’ll find the hidden costs of underpaying your employees:

An understanding of all these facts has led some companies to reject the traditional term “employee” and instead use words such as “associate,” “partner,” and the like.

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