Saturday, 28 February 2009

Karate, Kata, Kumite & Kime: A Business Model

The idea of drawing parallels between martial arts and business practice is not new. John Barnes and Richard Richardson, two highly successful businessmen and entrepreneurs (Harry Ramsdens) liken business to Judo in their excellent book Marketing Judo. They show how it is possible for the small players to compete and in many cases succeed over larger corporations.

As a practitioner of Shotokan karate, I understand the importance of training, fitness, discipline and tenacity.

Within karate there are different components which, when practiced make up the whole picture. The main components are Kata and Kumite.

Kata comprise structured sequences of moves which include attacks and blocks (defences) using hands, feet and body. Traditionally, a karateka (practitioner of karate) progresses through different kata as a structured route to the black belt. Once attaining black belt, we continue to improve these kata whilst learning new more advanced kata containing further techniques and their combinations.

Kumite is basically fighting; the application of attacks to specific parts of the body, mainly nerve plexus' and key sensitive spots, and blocks. During kumite we learn control, stealth, tenacity, surprise and control. I mention control twice because when you are facing someone with the tools to inflict serious damage, the understanding of body position and distance is paramount, not inly to survival but to success.

Kata and kumite both depend on learning the basics; how to punch, how to kick, how to move the body by transfer of weight, how to transfer power, how to remain strong whilst being relaxed and how to use different muscle sets in harmony to achieve maximum power.

The basics depend on a potentially 'mystical' and often misunderstood word, Kime. Kime is probably best described as being when both the body and brain are executing sharp, crisp, penetrating, and hard techniques that utilizes the entire person. Kime is when technique is 'grounded', when it 'comes up through the floor', where the body’s entire musculature is used in a sudden explosive moment, and when the mind is linked to the technique. (Mark Groenewold).

It doesn't take a lot to start drawing parallels between business practice and these different components. Here are a few to start with:

Basics - Have we got our basics right; knowledge, process, relationships, targets, aims etc?
Kata - Do we construct our basics into structures that help us progress, using them to shape what we do and how we move, build our skills, check and refine what we're doing?
Kumite - Do we apply our basics and structures in such a way that we are able to out-manoeuvre our competitors, know where to target our efforts, defend our resources, develop and hone what we have so that it is even more effective?
Kime - Have we learnt how to use what we have to its maximum potential? Are there things that we can combine in a new way to produce even greater results, greater service, greater enjoyment and fulflment, greater satisfaction, greater growth ... etc?
Control - Have we assessed our position and that of our competitors? Do we see how they are moving? Can we implement strategies that won't cause undue injury? Are we willing to take the risk to win?

When myself and my children gained our black belts we were told, "Now is the time that you start to learn." I think that is a good reminder to each and every one of us that no matter how long we have been in business, or working in a particular field or doing a particlar job, we can always improve IF we are willing to learn from what we have done and what we are doing and apply it to the future.

Tools for doing this? God gave us brains, common sense and the ability to relate to others (relationships). I would argue that these are the best tools we have to start on the road.

Perhaps when we appreciate our interdependence rather than striving for continual independence we will learn some of these 'mysteries' of life and business.

You may not practice karate, but you can apply the principles.

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Monday, 23 February 2009

Do We Already Have the Resources In-House?

No matter how much business operators try to convince me, I have never fully bought into the idea of using outside, contract staff.

Let me explain ...

There are times when new people bring a different dynamic to what we do and how we operate and these individuals can play a key role when we don't have the internal expertise. However, whilst working in the Pharmaceutical Industry I used to become exasperated when managers declared that 'we need to hire in external expertise' before they had taken any steps to determine whether that expertise already existed in-house.

All of us have many talents and abilities which have become latent or hidden over the years.
Perhaps we've
  • Forgotten about talents we once had or hobbies we once enjoyed
  • Assumed we'll never need softer, touchy-feely skills so have locked them away and forgotten about them
  • Always wanted to give something a try but haven't had the chance
  • Been told at school that we'd never succeed in a particular area, even though we really enjoyed it or worse still, were good at it!
  • Been told we'll never be successful

... the list goes on and I'm sure you can add your own reasons.

Let's consider one or two ways in which companies would benefit if they used in-house expertise over hired-in expertise. Companies would have

  • People working who are already fully conversant with the culture
  • People already established within the social networks of the company, with established relationships across multiple disciplinary areas
  • Chance to develop their people, thereby increasing their sense of belonging and resulting in potentially greater job-satisfaction, commitment and input

I would also suggest that they'd save considerable costs and time delays that inevitably occur when new people are brought into existing structures and cultures. Contract staff cost more, it's just that we perceive that they're easier to get rid of when we know longer need them without worrying about pensions etc and we can often 'hide' their costs elsewhere in the figures by keeping them off the headcount! But what happened if we had people that were so flexible that we didn't have to adopt or pay homage to the 'hire and fire' methods we have become accustomed to?

The problem is that bringing in people from outside or looking outside of the company is simply too easy. We don't have to ask too many questions and we don't have to worry about changing who we are or what we do.

But coming one step back, wouldn't it be much healthier for all concerned if companies di take time to help their staff discover and develop talents, whether they are forgotten or hidden, so that at least they knew what was in the melting pot. With information, it is possible to make reasoned decisions. Making these decisions in the absence of information is dangerous and potentially life-threatening to a company.

Sometimes it is unavoidable that external talent is required to achieve a goal. My challenge would be, how often could we avoid it and enjoy the benefits by a bit of preparation and enough conviction to take the risk?

The results of ignoring what and whom we have can be very telling and equally catastrophic. In 1917 Forbes first quoted their top 100 Companies. When this list was re-visited in 1987, 61 of the original companies were no longer in existence and of remaining 39, only 18 were still on the Top 100 list. The main reason for dropping off the list or going out of business was that these companies had stayed still and tried to fight what was going on around them. The 18 companies that stayed in the Top 100 were those that adopted a strategy which embraced change. And for this, discovery and implementation of creativity within each member of the workforce was key.

We are all creative. Do our bosses and companies know that? Have they looked for it or do we perhaps need to find our talents and let those in our place of work know?

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Thursday, 19 February 2009

What are the Dangers of Self-Esteem & Self-Confidence?

This may seem to be a pointless question after my last few posts, but self-esteem and self-confidence, like most other qualities must be held in balance.

We have all met the 'over-confident' and those whose ego and self-esteem are so inflated that they are nothing short of a pain (or danger) to be around.

Just as a balanced diet should be exactly that, BALANCED, so confidence and esteem must be balanced with and grounded in reality.

Historically, we have been taught that many bullies, aggressive, violent or anti-social individuals have a problem with low self-esteem and low self-confidence. More recent, controlled research suggests that these characteristics are commonly demonstrated when unearned self-esteem (an inflated sense of self-importance or superiority over others) is challenged or the individuals concerned feel humiliated.

These people have a self-esteem or self-opinion that is over-inflated and has no grounding in reality. As a consequence, it is very frail when challenged.

Why mention this?

Well, I think it is important to understand that seeking increased self-esteem and self-confidence as entities on their own is not a healthy pursuit. Both characteristics need to be grounded in reality and grounded in the context of our character.

Both characteristics are also under our control. We have a RESPONSIBILITY as well as a right to handle the skills we have and the best way to do that is by grounding them into reality.
I saw a scary video the other day of a 10-year-old boy in America addressing a crowd of 20000 people. Great! Good for him! But what is so scary is that he was a clone of the high pressure salesmen and public speakers we fear, and at such a young age is highly susceptible to being manipulated, as well as manipulating others. The content of what he had to say was actually very good, but his delivery bore no relationship to his age or experience. The words he used were of someone at least 20-years his senior ... and that is probably where they came from. This was not a demonstration of healthy self-esteem and self-confidence.

So, I'd like to finish where I started my first entry a few days ago ... which is by relating self-esteem to self-worth.

If we feel that intrinsically we have value (which I differentiate from importance) we are more likely to respond to the needs around us because we are confident that what we bring has value, even if it isn’t necessarily the total solution.

I believe that building and increasing self-esteem in others (and in ourselves) is a frequently overlooked tool for birthing success; in everything we do

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Tuesday, 17 February 2009

How Can We Build Self-Esteem & Confidence in Others?

Self-esteem is the foundation on which confidence can build. People who feel valued and know their self-worth are then more able to try new things and be prepared to fail. Unfortunately, failure has become a dirty word in business and we love to make scapegoats of those who have failed. But in so doing we continue to hammer the nails in our own coffin, because unless we are prepared to try something new, to put ideas together that have never been put together before, to experiment with them and see if they work, creativity and innovation die. If we stifle or kill self-esteem, we stifle and kill creativity and our success. The three are intimately associated with one another. The most successful and rapidly expanding businesses today are those where creativity thrives; Innocent Drinks and the Virgin franchise are just two examples.

And where creativity is lost? The businesses die.

As pressures increase to be successful, we often exclude the very things that can save us. One of those things is risk-taking, of which we are sorely afraid. We continue to work harder at what we’ve always done in the hope that ‘this time it will work’. Why should it if it hasn’t worked before? If it has worked before but we’re struggling now, why use the tried and well-trodden path to the cemetery? Risk-taking is the basis of creativity and the foundation for success. But in order to take those risks we need the confidence, and to build confidence we need a foundation of self-esteem.

Simple ways to build self-esteem include basic rewards such as a verbal or written ‘Thank you’, recognition in front of peers, recognition of a team in a company publication, a small gift, anything that says ‘We appreciate your efforts.’

Perhaps we should re-learn the art of celebrating our failures. They don’t have to be big announcements (there are undoubtedly people waiting in the wings to pour on scorn). But by celebrating the failures with those who’ve tried it is possible to learn from the mistakes and to move forward. Punishment achieves nothing apart from a misplaced sense of dispensed justice. We forget that the greatest discoveries affecting our lives today were the end of a line of repeated failures. People like Thomas Edison went through hundreds, even thousands of prototypes before they came up with the end product. Underlying that tenacity and perseverance was undoubtedly high levels of self-esteem and self-confidence which enabled them to face the failures, learn from them and move on. These inventors would undoubtedly have been inspired and encouraged by others and needed to draw on that as onlookers criticised and ‘commented’ on their failures. But it is their self-esteem that is likely to have held them on-course through the storms.

Sometimes we just need to let people have a go and discover for themselves. This is the basis of my workshops. I can show them plenty of what I can do, but in the end it only really works when each person has the opportunity to try for themselves. Having discovered that they can or can’t do something they can move on, either to something new or build on what they’ve started.Sometimes we need to revisit where they’ve been and help them change a wrong perception. For example, they may have tried something once and decided that they can’t do it, when in fact they just need to try it again.

There are many ways we can help, but perhaps the biggest part is through our relationships with others. As we develop and use these we have the opportunity to encourage, correct, draw alongside and help. These things also take time, effort and patience, so it can be useful to weigh-up how much effort and time we can/are prepared to give.

Benefits from the results are potentially huge and long-lasting and the return on investment greater than we can ever perceive.

But we need to take that risk ...


If you are interested to learn how we may be able to help you, please either visit our websites:

Waywood Creative:

Waywood Training:

Or contact me directly on

Tel: +44 (0)1509 553362
Mob: +44 (0)7814 628123


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Sunday, 15 February 2009

What are the Benefits of Building Self-Esteem & Self-Confidence?

In short, many!!

But let’s start by considering what we will avoid.

When we are continually dragged down by low self-esteem and low self-confidence the impact is much wider than our work; it affects our whole life!

Biologically, our bodies set-up defence mechanisms against infection to keep us healthy, but the prolonged stress caused by poor self-image counteracts those mechanisms and renders us more susceptible to infection.

In addition, prolonged secretion of hormones and other natural chemicals which usually help us maintain good health, become imbalanced all over the body.
  • We suffer skin rashes and conditions such as eczema
  • Our breathing suffers and we can precipitate asthma
  • The lining which protects our stomach from the acid it contains erodes and eventually the acid digests our stomach tissues leading to ulcers
  • Other digestive disorders
  • Heart conditions
  • Increased risk of stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • ... etc.

The emotional drain can

  • Lead to bouts of low mood
  • Precipitate full-blown depressive illness

The severe lack of confidence affects everything we do ...

  • We become less inclined to try anything new (or even continue doing what we are doing)
  • We hide ourselves away as a defence mechanism, trying to avoid the possibility of anything else that may reinforce the low self-image and pain we feel
  • We become less inclined to go out, either for exercise or to be sociable.

So the detrimental effects can be catastrophic on a personal and professional level.

Confident people with a good level of self-esteem are less prone to the above list of horrors (although as with all things, over-confidence and inflated levels of self-importance can also be detrimental to our own health and the health of others).

When we are confident, we are more likely to

  • Think clearly
  • Contribute ideas to discussions and meetings
  • Be able to speak candidly about serious issues affecting us or our workplace
  • Help each other
  • Be more creative and innovative.

Creativity and innovation are clearly more complex entities than simply being a function of our self-confidence or self-esteem. They involve different patterns of thinking and assembly of ideas, but they are much more likely to occur where we can interact with others, openly, candidly, confidently.

In my next post I'll be looking at a few ways in which we can start to build self-esteem in others and how that affects our living and working environments.

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Saturday, 14 February 2009

How Can We Affect Self-Esteem & Self-Confidence in Others?

It is always worth considering what impact we can and do have on the self-esteem and self-confidence of other. If these qualities in us are affected by external input from our parents, peers etc (i.e., others) then we too can have significant impact on the self-esteem and self-confidence in others.

Let’s consider as an example, the boss who wants to add some stretch to the expectations of his staff in order that they can develop and grow in their roles. How can he help them to grow and develop and achieve these goals? I would argue that one way is to reinforce their self-esteem and develop their self-confidence. These promote not only independent thinking and working, but also the security to approach others for assistance if and when needed. But what happens if this boss
  • Sets targets, and then continually reviews them and re-sets them as they are met?
  • Sets targets that are simply not achievable?
  • Introduces so much stretch in the objectives that they push the individual beyond their elastic limit?
  • Continually focuses on targets that are not being met and ignores those that have been achieved or exceeded?
  • Provides criticism and objective advice without praise and reward?
These scenarios are all too common in business today; many through pressures to perform in difficult or changing economic climates; many through personal drive or feelings of the need to achieve or survive; many through ignorance. Whatever the reason, the end result is the same; underachievement, low morale, suspicion and loss of best staff (either voluntarily or through ill-health).

When the pinch comes the focus can be turned so strongly onto the objective that we neglect the means of achieving that objective, our staff. Survey after survey shows that the best results, greatest growth and greatest stability arise where people feel valued, rewarded and are given the freedom to try, in other words, where people have a feeling of worth (self-esteem) and the confidence to make a significant and recognised contribution (self-confidence). It’s also interesting that in many cases, reward constitutes little more than acknowledgement and being thanked. It does not necessarily have to be a salary increase or monetary award.

The problem is that in many cases, praise, thanks and acknowledgement have been consigned to the annals of history. The positive side to this is that where there is a cultural change from a praise vacuum to one of acknowledgement, the change in atmosphere, attitude and motivation can be remarkably rapid and greater than could be expected.

So, if encouraging others costs nothing, apart from a bit of pride, self-discipline and effort, but reaps such great rewards, what are the barriers to us starting, now?
  • Pride?
  • Time?
  • Image?
  • Effort?
  • Expectations?
  • Office structure?
  • ... other reasons?
If survival, growth and development are priorities in our businesses then none of these barriers is too great to overcome. Most are personal anyway. And if it is a case of reorganisation or redundancy, then there can be little argument against the case.

The benefits of building self-esteem and self-confidence in others and ourselves are that we are laying the foundations for greater things; creativity and innovation.

More of that next time ...

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Friday, 13 February 2009

Self-Esteem & Self-Confidence

Today I'm going to start a 'mini-series' on what I see as possibly one of the most crucial elements to any success story: self-esteem and self-confidence. I've put them his way round for a reason that will become apparent as you read on ...

So let's start at the beginning ...

What are they?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines them as follows:


  • noun confidence in one’s own worth or abilities


  • noun a feeling of trust in one’s abilities, qualities, and judgement

At a first glance they may seem to be the same thing. Indeed, they are very close, but self-confidence is based more around what we can do whilst self-esteem is based more on who we are; our worth.

Both are incredibly important in shaping our lives and enabling us to achieve our potential. If we have no self-esteem then achievement becomes much more difficult and we often sabotage our own efforts (at least mentally) before we start or give ourselves chance to achieve anything. Without self-esteem there is little or no foundation on which to develop self-confidence.

Our lives are a tapestry of events; some good and some bad. The proportion and magnitude of these events can be highly significant in developing our self-esteem and ultimately, self-confidence (or lack thereof).

Here's a couple of simple scenarios which help to demonstrate this (based on two friends of mine):

Friend A came from a family where achievement was the norm. Mum and dad were both high flyers and the level of expectations in the family was high. Older brother was at university studying astro-physics and younger brother was a brilliant pianist. Unfortunately, my friend was less academic although he was extremely practical. You can imagine that when his test and exam results came in, he was not at the top of the list. He was frequently berated by his parents for underachieving. His self-esteem fell. He felt that he was worth little because he could not do what was expected of him. Not surprisingly he rebelled and became a real problem ... until he left home and eventually set up his own business repairing cars, servicing and tuning engines. His reputation spread and he became a very successful businessman. Not surprisingly he also became very confident and happy with his lot! It wasn't that this young man had no ability; it was that his abilities were overlooked because he did not fit into the expectations of others. He needed the chance to discover and apply his many talents, and when he did ...

Friend B came from a totally different background. The members of his family were not high achievers. His dad worked at a local company as a storeman and his mum worked in a local bakery. My friend was very good at electronics and always had things in pieces. His sister loved art (but was not top of the class). Both parents were full of encouragement for my friend and his sister. Fast forwarding ten years ... both my friend and his sister became very successful in their respective fields. And both were very confident people. When they speak of their parents, they both speak with great affection, with genuine thanks for how they were trusted and for the confidence that was instilled in them because of this. They were valued as individuals and given the chance to experiment and fail, knowing that their parents were always behind them. They knew this and it shaped their high self-esteem and self-confidence.

Now I know that these two examples are probably towards the extreme ends of the spectrum, but they are real examples which demonstrate how important self-esteem is for developing self-confidence. I also understand that in order to achieve some things, we need to aim high and be motivated and pushed on by those around us. But if our core belief doesn't allow us to accept those things we need, then we will not achieve our potential; we will only be driven into greater self-doubt.

We may look at ourselves and think that we have very little to offer. Is that the truth? Or is it because we lack the self-esteem and self-confidence to see beyond that to what potential we really have? It's often how we see things that makes the difference.

Light in the darkness or darkness
threatening the light?

It is also worth considering what impact we have on the self-esteem and self-confidence of others ... but that's for next time.

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Sunday, 8 February 2009

The Power of Music to Change the Label

Don’t you just love the way we label people … loser, nobody, somebody, hero … etc.

But we make these decisions with very little supportive evidence .

We look at people, perhaps at what they’ve done (or not done) and then we decide on their value, which is incredibly subjective and can be based on such strong scientific principles as ‘How we feel’!!

I recently ran a drumming workshop with a group of people aged from 19 into their early 20’s. If you were to put labels on them, many would have opted for terms like 'nobodys'.

In fact if you asked them who they were, they’d probably tell you that they are nobodys (based on what society has told them) because they are a group who have struggled with school and come from backgrounds which have resulted in such low self esteem that they rate their value as zero.

BUT they are one of the BEST groups I have ever run workshops for! Period.

Sure, many were shy but they were great listeners, sensing changes in feel and rhythm, and when we stopped, everyone stopped on exactly the same beat. Some were prepared to try solos. They were willing to give it their best shot.

Here are some labels I would use for this group:

  • Winners
  • Brave
  • Enthusiastic
  • Great learners
  • Listeners
  • Smilers
  • Relaxed (eventually!)
  • Contributors
  • An inspiration to me

And if that is being a nobody then I want to be one too!

Thank you all for making it such a great session and teaching me what it takes to overcome personal barriers and uncertainties to make things rock!

You are an inspiration and don’t let anyone ever tell you that you are a nobody.

You have more going for you than you may realise for some time. But once you can grasp how special you all are and what talents you have, then you will see yourselves very differently.

I just pray that the rest of us will give you chance to shine as you did in our workshop.


I was greatly encouraged to receive the following comments from one of the youth leaders after the event …

“I thought the session was tremendous. It was a great environment for our guys, many of whom have low self-esteem. The way they were able to join in with the session without feeling pressured worked really well. Overall, the evening was a memorable event for our guys and a very enjoyable one!” TS; Youth Leader

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