Emissary Blog

How I use Yoshinkan Aikido in Business - Part II

Photo by Alan Ng
Posted on 2017.06.19 by Michael Stuempel

Welcome back to my series of how I apply Yoshinkan Aikido in Business.

Thanks for coming back!

I summarized Part I of this series with the thought that, "We should all remember that we need to stay focused on our goals, to keep learning and to keep practicing. We should also remember that we can and should learn from anyone and that we have something valuable within us that we can share with others." My instructors, my fellow Aikidoka and the dojos I have practiced in helped me form this idea over the last 30+ years. 

Another thing I have learned from practicing Yoshinkan is how to handle failure. 

The reason that I put forward the thought that Yoshinkan Aikido has helped me handle failure is because I fail every day on the mats. Since my very first class in 1984 I have been constantly failing. In my first class, I couldn't breakfall (fall down) properly and standing up with form, confidence and poise was impossible. The next class was worse because I was sore from the first class. But the people around me, my fellow Aikidoka, were inspiring. Some were really good at falling down and getting back up. Others were only a little better than me. It was easy to see the progression and that with practice, success can be found. 

The thing about budo training is that it is a journey through life. Shugyo is a Japanese word that dates back to the Samurai and represents a way of living and improving oneself through both physical and mental training. The international instructors course that I survived in 1993-94, and then assisted with for several years following, was about Aikido Shugyo. Every day we were challenged both physically and mentally. We trained until we were exhausted and then we trained some more. We trained when we were injured and we trained when we were sick. If we could walk we trained. If we couldn't walk, we sat and watched (mitori geiko). We were taught techniques and asked to make them work on each other and we couldn't. It was frustrating and it was impossible. As a group, we failed every day and yet we kept coming back to do it again. We persevered.

It seems crazy and it was. While in the midst of it we didn't have the energy or the presence of mind to step back and think "what are we doing?!" We just learned how to keep going and we pushed ourselves until something happened. We became better. We couldn't see it ourselves, but those on the outside looking in could see it. Our techniques started working more and more. We could train for a 90 minute class without stopping or looking at the clock. We learned to accept every failure as a challenge to overcome. Every defeat became an opportunity to learn and we pushed forward as a group. We helped each other. We taught each other. We all were succeeding while we were failing. We were succeeding because we were failing but were refusing to give up. Instead, we worked together to improve and to succeed.

By this point, I am sure you can see the analogy with business. When we fail at Emissary, we know that we can improve. We make mistakes and we learn from them. When something doesn't work, we change it. We work as a team and accept failure and learn from it. We move from failure to success as a company and are the better for it.

This is a key point in the Emissary business culture. We don't give up and we always get better at what we do.  

My final thought to share is that I've been lucky because I have been failing at Yoshinkan for over 30 years. I have been failing and improving at one thing for over 30 years! I know that success is a path built on failure because I have done it for a very long time. This is how Emissary continues to thrive. 

I look forward to your comments and thoughts and to your joining me for Part III.

Michael Stuempel, President, Emissary Computer Solutions, Tokyo, Japan

Part I of this series | Part III of this series

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About Michael Stuempel

Michael Stuempel is a misplaced Canadian following his hopes, dreams and aspirations in Tokyo.

Michael arrived in Tokyo in 1993 to participate in the 3rd Yoshinkan Aikido Hombu Dojo International Instructor's Course and soon after co-founded Emissary Computer Solutions. His primary, professional focus has been to assist International companies with their Japan based IT endeavours. Emissary often acts as the liaison between a company's IT headquarters and their Japan branch. Michael's IT experience in Japan includes running local operations for International global support partners, overseeing Data Centre support engineers in their duties, assisting startups with their initial IT footprint, providing smart hands support in offices, factories and data centres throughout Japan as well as the design, implementation and maintenance of IT infrastructure and systems for a variety of companies in several industries. More

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