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«ISSUE Vol. VIII No. 1 March 2013 ERENET PROFILE CONTENT SPRING MESSAGE PUBLISHER Dr. Péter Szirmai – Editor PAPERS Dr. Antal Szabó – ...»

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Aikido is an indirect, off-the-job self-improvement “teacher” for that. The harmonizing and collaborative philosophy of aikido supports personal development, stress-, communication- and conflict management as well as leadership. It can become a fundament and compass in your life creating inner-, private- and work-life-balance.

Keywords: aikido, martial arts, stress, corporate culture, collaboration, harmony, management, multinational, company, corporation JEL codes: A13, D23


Today, we are living in a technology-driven global society. The technological developments establish new opportunities for individuals, transform the society: new communication channels, a new understanding of knowledge (e.g. „you can google it”) and information. It creates new habits (e.g. e-communities and enetworking), new needs (flexibility, mobility) and lifestyles (being online on laptops, tablets and smartphones), resulting in an absolutely new environment, in which currently a new generation is growing up.

The Generation Y („Millennials”) enters the labour market in these moments and the Generation C („Connected”) will also close up in a few years. These generations grew up with e-Products: they are 24/7 online, search for everything on Google, build their knowledge by Wikipedia, listen to music on YouTube, communicate with others via Skype, MSN Messenger and e-mail as well as other applications on their smartphones. They socialize on Facebook, Twitter and other networking platforms, fix their “real-life” appointments in an electronic calendar, make e-notes, read e-books, find a restaurant with Google Maps and navigation systems, share a new album of photos on a regular basis and type faster on their keyboard than by handwriting.

This new world (global & digital society) in combination with the still perceptible effects of the economic crisis brings new challenges for the business: how to adapt these new needs to remain on the market profitable and successful? The global competition is getting fierce…  Adaptation of innovative technologies: strategic conflict of innovation vs. cost reduction/optimization,

an exemplary dilemma is:

 If innovation becomes a must, but the market stagnates, how to avoid cost restraints and lay-offs?

 War for talents: attraction and integration of the Generation Y with different needs, expectations, working methods, incentives, networking styles  How to align the company to make it attractive for young professionals (flexibility, mobility, mentorship and empowerment etc.) and how to deal with generational conflict, internationalization and diversity?

ERENET Profile Vol. VIII, No. 1. www.erenet.org  Motivation/retention: the trendiness of mobility and connectedness result in higher aptitude for fluctuation; good and bad information spread more rapidly; customers, employees and other stakeholders are continuously reachable and connected  How to develop a positive and sustainable employer brand?

 Change management: transformation becomes an ordinary, daily used expression as the market is changing; on the other hand employees are resistant (fear from change, work overload and lay-off)  How to make change understandable and accepted for the employees?

 Customer satisfaction: there is an accelerating amount of daily perceived information to be managed and analyzed; the company should adapt these findings to increase satisfaction and remain on the global market  How to deal with this information efficiently and how to react to remain successful on the market?

The challenges could be listed further and further. The world lives through a rapid acceleration. The civilization feels frustrated with the ongoing transformation and change, fear losing their secure jobs. As an applicant for instance, you are not only competing with your fellows from your university/city/country, but with everyone from all over the world.

After being hired at your ideal workplace, the continuous stress goes on. How to overperform steadily to keep your job? Besides all these facts, your inferiority complex could increase further on the other hand by being 24/7 online: following the achievements and career steps of your friends (competitors?) might increase your expectations as well not to feel ashamed.

But where are we heading now?

Is the increasingly competitive atmosphere the only way of dealing with the current conditions? Is it unavoidable? How to get stability, peace, security and acknowledgement without overcoming others?

Unfortunately the continuous focus on cost efficiency, overwhelming workload and performance pressure has become normal nowadays. On the other hand, health problems, stress, burnout and various illnesses become more „popular” and widely discussed. But where do these trends lead? How to save health as an individual; how to ensure health of your employees?

Prevention of stress and burnout as well as sustainable health management became relevant leadership and HR topics these days. But independently from the means of „tools” (massages, sports and free time activities) how to save your health on the long-run?


Health is one of the most valuable „assets” of a human being. As a lot of illnesses have a stress/psychosomatic reason, in the following, two critical success factors will be shown and described to reach long-term success in your job and private life with a higher chance and ensure your health in the meantime.

1. Individual self-leadership based on inner balance as a prerequisite for managing others and control situations effectively

2. Cooperation in private as well as working situations based on respect, responsibility and ethics The starting point could be the following statement2 I have learned recently (based on Plato’s quote3) to

explain the importance of self-leadership:

„The ability to lead yourself is the fundament of managing the business.” First of all, you should get to know yourself, your skills and capabilities, strengths and weaknesses. It helps you to elaborate your own appropriate self-leading strategy. Self-confidence, the radiation of stability makes it easier to control others and other situations. And this is a prerequisite of a sustainable management approach in overtaking leadership responsibility and helps to protect your health as well.

Covey has also described the importance of this approach:

„ Self-mastery and self-discipline are the foundation of good relationship with others.” (Covey, 2004) Haniel Scholarship Seminar, March 2010 „So first of all, you need to obtain the virtues as anyone, who is willing to domain and look after not just himself, but also the state and the matters of the state.” (Socrates in Plato, 4th millenium BC; Platon, 2005 – own translation from Hungarian language) ERENET Profile Vol. VIII, No. 1. www.erenet.org Now the question is: how should you attempt to manage others/situations? Do you want to radiate and influence by a positive (assertive and cooperation-based) or a negative (power-based and competitive) control?

This is your individual choice. But Covey describes the importance of the „positive” attitude:

„The habit of effective interpersonal leadership is Think Win/Win.” (Covey, 2004) It is crucial for long-term success not to lead just by power. People can be approached in a respected, cooperative manner as well. It enhances your communication effectiveness4 in reaching group goals.

However, in the digital age of the 21st century, it is not just a good advice. You cannot afford it anymore as a leader, otherwise your employees will leave your company or your team more frequently. But you can see the same trend as an employee: if you behave disrespectful and competitive with others, the team/company will through you out sooner or later.

3. THE APPROACH OF AIKIDO5 Aikido is one of the Japanese BUDO martial arts founded by Ueshiba Morihei at the beginning of the 20th century.

The founder mixed the principles of the martial art Daito Ryu Aiki Jujitsu with the philosophy of his religion Omoto-kyo and established aikido with its special spiritual approach. It combines the above mentioned two critical success factors – teaching you self-leadership and a cooperative attitude based on essential values.

The word aikido consists of three kanjis:

 Ai: joining, unifying, combining, fit  Ki: spirit, energy, mood, morale  Do: way, path It means „The way of unifying (with) life energy” or „The way of harmonious spirit”.

Aikido is the only Japanese BUDO martial art that is not a sport, as there is no competition in it. The philosophy of aikido is to create harmony with your opponent (defend yourself by cooperation). The goal is to solve each situations (attacks) causing the least damage for the partner (win/win situation). Of course the harmony with the environment needs a calm presence and sharp perception (selfconfidence, self-control and inner harmony), which are major goals of BUDO martial arts.

Aikido is basically a defensive martial art, where the power of a 6-year-old girl should be enough for you to defend yourself. There is a relatively high ratio of women due to its approach. Aikidokas (aikido practitioners) learn to step out of the line of the attacker, use the arriving energy and lead it further on a circular movement until reaching the ground. In aikido there are no colorful belts (except black and white, differentiating student levels from master levels) to signalize equality.

Aikido creates an effective environment for personal development and improving your abilities to

work with a partner, community/team:

 Creating the inner balance (you learn to better perceive your environment, developing yourself and your confidence): a martial artist must be mentally “present” and stable in all senses to deal with the opponent successfully  Respect of people: you learn to respect others and to cooperate with them  Acceptance of people and the environment: you accept your opponent and the attack to control it effectively  Collaborative approach: if an unexpected situation occurs in your life, you face it fearlessly and solve/neutralize the “attack” with the possible least damage  Make decisions and take responsibility: you respond to “stimuli”/situations and feel responsible for the consequences (as a defender you can damage others seriously in aikido, if you do not take care; you are fully responsible)  Better confrontation/readiness: you always look into the eyes of the attacker (without fear), understand and decode the intention and react  Ethical mindset: you solve a situation based on your best knowledge (your conscience remains clear)

–  –  –

These characteristics are interesting and very useful in corporate environment as well. Self-confidence and self-leadership combined with the choice of the assertive and cooperative behavior help you to better succeed on individual, corporate and social level and aikido could be a reliable compass to reach these goals.


MANAGEMENT? (5 HYPOTHESES) This chapter will introduce five major areas (hypotheses), where the philosophy of aikido can give you a significant support in achieving harmony and collaboration in your working environment as well as an inspiring corporate culture.

1. hypothesis: The aikido training is a platform to learn Respect towards others and experience (accept) Diversity.

Respect is one of the key values of BUDO martial arts. During the training, you discover the fact that you can learn from everyone in the community – independently from their ranks. Advanced students can teach you more on the technical side, while beginners will „show” you when your technique does not work (as they still do not know, how to react to your moves).

On the tatami6, your age, sex, job, nationality, disabilities are not relevant. Everyone is equal and the only goal is to concentrate and manage the attack based on the philosophy of aikido. You learn to accept others, experience diversity (in all aspects) and build mutual respect with your fellows.

Nowadays, diversity is on the top agenda of many multinational corporations, as diverse teams work more effectively. But how to overcome the resistance of current employees and managers? How to convince them to hire international employees, if it might bring along a shift of the corporate language? How to motivate employees to take it as a positive change?

Aikido teaches you to accept others as well as not to fear attacks (change can be considered as an attack).

If you accept the situations (attacks) that come in your life, you can deal with i.a. change much easier.

2. hypothesis: The philosophy of aikido helps to experience and train (Social) Responsibility.

The aikido training gives the opportunity to feel responsible. During the delivery of a technique, you are completely responsible for the safety of the partner. You always need to be fully present, otherwise injuries can occur in any movement.

Some techniques need more space, e.g. if too many students attend a training, it could also make you feel: „I do not have enough room” (to finish a technique). Therefore, the next step is to focus on your whole environment (not just the partner) and feel responsible for everyone. Senior aikidokas support juniors naturally, the same way they were treated a few years ago when they came as a beginner.

Nowadays, companies speak frequently about (corporate social) responsibility. Managers should feel responsible for their subordinates and in a broader sense, you (as a company) should not just focus on profit, but support those in need in the society (CSR). This mindset can be developed by aikido naturally – if this becomes an integral part of the attitude of the employees it makes CSR not just paperwork or checklist item, but an honest activity.

New employees of a company normally receive an onboarding (information on the company, team, contact persons, services etc), sometimes a mentor as well. The shift of the mindset to feel real responsibility for „newcomers” is also a huge benefit of aikido trainings, where you learn to deal with beginners as a mentor selfevidently.

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