I am an entrepreneur. As scholars define it, an entrepreneur is a person who is constantly on the look for opportunities, identifies them promptly, becomes the drive for the business idea and the team, and uses these opportunities to create a positive result. If an opportunity does not present itself, he is to lay ground for it, help the opportunity to shape up and then exploit it to the benefit of the participants.
It is amazingly similar to what I have been learning in Aikido: be aware at all times, recognize the intent at a very early stage, establish a connection with the opponent and then use the momentum to perform a technique resolving the situation with maximum positivity. If the opponent is not making his move, initiate the attack, gain the center and still achieve the desired result.
A very essential similarity in both Aikido and entrepreneurship is lack of ill intent. A business idea is best implemented when all participants win: the product meets the needs of the consumers, the investors get their return on the investment, and the work team makes profit enjoying the process and the positive energy along the way. In Aikido, you do not cultivate hate to your opponent, or fight him with an intent to kill or maim. On the contrary, you blend with the opponent, connect with him so closely that you almost become one, and then guide him with care to the best available solution.
While my business experience has considerably facilitated my learning and assimilating the Aikido principles, my Aikido training has greatly enhanced my entrepreneurial skills. At most times I am calm, aware of what is going on around me; I try to navigate situations to the best outcome for all those concerned and stay connected to the market’s needs and challenges.
As an example, I closely follow any regulatory changes that may affect exportation to Russia. Recently I became aware of new regulations that would have a very serious impact on international trade (Awareness). I tried convening an international seminar on the subject, but despite the interest, few companies turned out to be prepared to attend. The main reason for the low turnout was the travel cost of going to another city or country for a few days. I changed the strategy and proposed the format of a free webinar, which immediately got me about a hundred participating corporations (Attack initiation). I knew that the companies would expect not only a general overview of the changes, but the details and practical solutions specific to their particular business. As it is impossible to cover that many industries in a 90-minute presentation, I adapted the scenario and suggested that half of the time would be dedicated to questions that may be of interest to most participants, while more specific questions would be answered later in writing or over the phone (Blending). During the webinar I explained the intricacies of new regulations and demonstrated that my company has the knowledge and experience to handle those problems efficiently (Technique execution). Eventually, the participants learned about the pitfalls and best approach solutions, and I gained several valued customers who contracted our services (Best positive resolution). Would my strategy be that clear-cut and effective if I had not been a student of Aikido for the past 10 years? Probably not. Anyway, as I said above, my business experience and Aikido skills definitely work in synergy and enhance each other – a good example of the Heaven and Earth technique.
Resolving all conflicts: