Kick Your Ass Idea #152 – Enter the Void

I’ve been talking to a lot of business experts lately, and it’s been surprising how much this idea seems to be totally new to them, and how powerful it is once they wrap their minds around it:

When you find yourself “stuck,” enter the void!

What’s that mean, exactly? Well, it’s the void, so it can’t be described exactly, but it can be described generally, and with a few examples I think you’ll know exactly what I mean. The void is the state of mind in which you step outside of the existing structure of whatever you’re doing, refocus on the goal of that activity, and ask yourself how you can achieve that goal without using what you already know. When you get the answer, it’s often very useful.

I first started to use this concept in martial arts training. After learning, practicing, and teaching martial arts for about 35 years, I sometimes found that I was simply not getting any better by following what I had been taught, even though I was supposedly executing at a very high level. So, sometimes with a few other very high-ranking black belts, I asked the question: “let’s throw out the dogma. Without any preconceptions, how can we do this (punch, throw, sword cut, etc.) with the most strength, with the most speed, or most efficiently?” After a few months of concentrated analysis and practice, we usually came up with some really innovative approaches that worked better for us than the traditional way of doing things.

This approach has worked wonders for some business owners I know. We all get stuck in ruts, but the owners of small business owners are usually so busy that they can be stuck and know they’re stuck, but simply be too overwhelmed to do anything about it. I spend an hour with them talking about the biggest obstacle they face. Usually, the first 20 minutes is spent getting them to let go of their preconceptions about it. They’ll say “but we’ve been doing it this way for years,” in about seven different ways, and eventually I’m able to point out that it’s also the case that they’re not happy with the results they’re getting from the same old efforts, and they start to be able to hear the conversation about what they are really hoping to achieve. At that point, it’s only a matter of a few questions to get them to think about what they really want, and around that vision, we organize a plan of action. It all sounds very mundane, but the key is finding ways to take the first step into the void … out of the routine your using and into the thought process of actually taking steps toward the true goal.

If you genuinely engage in this process  and apply the void principles to the process itself – in other words, not jumping on a new routine too quickly without testing it to make sure it really works – you will sometimes find that the way you’ve been using really is the most effective way to move toward your goals. Then, you adjust your attitude: “Okay, this is what works, so this is what I am going to do. I will focus my efforts for change on some other area.” Apply this kind of thinking to your martial arts, your business, or your personal relationships, and you may be amazed at what you accomplish!

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