The following is a guest post by Christopher S. Penn, Chris Brogan’s PodCamp co-founder and ninja.
Way back in the 1980s, when big hair and plastic pants were de rigueur, America’s fascination with all things ninja took off as a pop culture sensation that never left. Beneath the surface silliness of throwing stars, turtles, and late night USA network movies laid a philosophy that has never been more relevant than today.
Ninja master teacher Stephen K. Hayes called ninjutsu the art of winning, especially winning against impossible or improbable odds. Despite the deck being stacked against you, despite every obvious advantage that the opposition has, you still have to win.
Now granted, you may not be facing a crazed samurai wielding a four foot razor blade, but you’re still probably facing long odds in this economy. Let’s look at a ninja example for more clarity.
Imagine you’ve got a sword and you’re on the field of battle. A well armed, well armored samurai is charging you, you clash, and you’re about to be overrun by what’s effectively a high speed steamroller covered in chainsaws. As you clash, you try to hold your ground but realize you’re screwed, so you strategically give way, step aside, and drop your sword on the guy’s neck, and the encounter is over.
What does this teach you about a recession? Simple. You’re being overrun, by banks, lenders, creditors, and non-buying consumers. You won’t hold your ground against the tide of the economy any more than you could hold your ground against a charging samurai. Knowing this, look for the opportunity to step aside and change your perspective – literally.
Here’s an example. If you’re in management, you need to leave your office right now, put down all the reports and slides, and go talk to your customers. If you’re in B2B, talk to your customers’ customers. Get out from inside the battle and see the conflict from a different perspective.
There is almost certainly an angle you’re not seeing. If you’re caught up in the fury of the moment, wrestling for control of a situation that is a losing battle, you will get squashed. You have to step aside, give way, so that you can change your perspective and see the opportunity that is there, but invisible to you in the heat of the moment.
Do you see operational inefficiencies from your customer’s perspective that your product or service could address but you never realized? Have you ever watched your customer use their product or service in their real, daily life, rather than the sterile product testing and Q&A lab? What can you see if you step aside and look?
Disengage from the battle, step aside, and look for the opportunity that is there. As ninja grandmaster Toshitsugu Takamatsu once said, happiness is waiting there in front of you. Only you can decide whether or not you choose to experience it.
Christopher S. Penn is the producer of the Financial Aid Podcast, co-host of Marketing Over Coffee, and co-founder of PodCamp. He’s also a 16 year practitioner of ninjutsu at the Boston Martial Arts Center, unsurprisingly located in Boston, Massachusetts.
Photo credit, Financial Aid Podcast