Entrepreneurship is largely a process of articulating need and working to fill that need, assuming risk in the process. It is a path of overcoming obstacles, with intent to profit. Today, I want to talk about active transformation (how to change a bad into a good). I will give examples from the mythic character called The Mentor (very often depicted as a wizard) and from the Aikido Master, a master of the form of martial arts called Aikido, which has key emphasis on the redirecting of energy.
The Hero’s Journey, that ancient structure that is found in nearly every story of the world and every culture—that process, told in stories from every country of the world and having, we can assume, having existed forever, has its typical cast of characters, called archetypes.
One such archetype is The Mentor. In storytelling, this is a functionary character, which bequeaths knowledge to the hero, thus better preparing the hero for the rigors of the obstacles ahead. They may give the hero a special, magical tool (light saber or invisible cloak…you get the idea) and will share knowledge that stems from the mentor’s (typically persons) experience and hard-acquired wisdom.
There is no shortage of figures in literature, film and the stage, depicting wizards. This archetype is as popular as it is, as we recognize wizards about us. Lobbyists are modern day wizards. I know a few and marvel at how they are able to spin circumstances and practice their very special version of alchemy, to produce gold.
The wizard’s way is that of transformation. Wizards have a way of transforming negatives, into positives.
“These aren’t the droids we’re looking for”, the Storm troopers say, just after the wizard (or Jedi) Obi-Wan shifts the Storm Troopers halting instincts to passive thinking.
Hero’s have a way of using this tool to overcome Threshold Guardians (the ogres at the door of our next stage of adventure). This ogre tells us that we cannot go through the door. However, it is the job of the hero to go through that door. There are typically three options that are exercised at this point:
1. Kill the ogre.
2. Sneak around the ogre.
3. Befriend the ogre. Give it a respectable role and place on your adventure. Then, the ogre will serve you (and believe me…it can be really good to have an ogre on your side).
Here is an example.
Robin Hood is staring at Little John. They are both balanced on a fallen log over a stream. Little John is testing the mettle of Robin Hood and refuses to let him cross. So, they go to blows and Robin Hood ends up all wet, falling victim to the superior weight and skills of his adversary (except in the movie with Costner, which reverses this role).
Knowing he has been bested, Robin wisely then, again engages Little John, but this time as a brother. Robin, of course, invites Little John to join Robin’s merry band of robbers and they really do have a lot of great adventures together. What has happened here is that Robin has given John a respectable place—at Robin’s side, thus transforming what was a wall, into a door…a very big door, at that.
In the martial art form of Aikido, a practitioner of form will use an opponents’ aggressive energy against the aggressor. Ex. Let’s say a man has a knife and charges at the aikido artist. The aggressor makes an overhand, stabbing motion to stab the martial artist from above. In response, the martial artist removes his or her own body from attack line and forwards (or continues) the momentum energy of the aggressor (perhaps by grabbing the moving arm and guiding its momentum to a destination. The martial artist will shift that energy away from him or herself (typically sending the aggressor rolling or flying). The martial artist might also redirect the energy of the oncoming blade–back into the aggressor (meaning the knife goes into aggressor’s thigh or stomach, etc) causing the aggressor to, literally, stab himself or herself.
As you engage conflict, think of yourself as an archetypal wizard or Aikido master. How can I transform or redirect this “bad” to a “good” or how can I redirect aggressive energy away, towards causing non-harm? Note: (The answer typically exists around surrendering some aspect of your own ego). It usually does, right?
How can I make this conflict into an opportunity? How can I alter the circumstance in such a way, that it is no longer threatening, but bountiful? Here is your magic tool: You have to give them what they want.
It is very important to note that when your means of overcoming another is to befriend them and give them a respectable place on your adventure, you need to respect them and to cater to their needs. But, in order for such a relationship to go forward, both parties must feel that their needs are being met. All relationships are founded upon mutual need. Once needs are no longer being met, the relationship can again transform.
Tips for Transforming Circumstances:
1. Ask yourself what the Threshold Guardian (or ogre) that you encounter wants. What is it that they need?
a. Can you fill this need?
b. Can you assist in providing them with a tool, enabling them to fill it with, themselves?
c. Of what way might they serve you?
d. What compromise can be found?
e. Is there a way to meld or synthesize both the filling of their need and the serving of your needs?
f. Serve your ogre. Respect them. Surrender your ego. Develop trust and give more than take. That is how loyalty is born.
g. Giving and serving others builds goodwill. Goodwill is worth its weight in gold. It can literally make a career.
At the end of the day, if your ogre refuses to work with you, you may need to shift tactics. Traditionally in literature or movies, the hero then kills the ogre (I don’t recommend this path) or sneaks around them.
What ogres do you face–or have recently?
Such an ogre would be refusing you access towards where you think you need to go next, on your adventure.
Start implementing this technique into your engagements with ogres. Remember that it is very good to have ogres on your side, for obvious reasons.