It was my old karate teacher who said this to me and I thought it was a bit of martial arts mumbo jumbo. Turns out he was right all along. I sometimes don’t make my bed, I rarely wash my car, I leave my book keeping until the last minute and so it goes on … I am a bit sloppy and laid back in most things I do.
I was out with a client eating dinner recently and he was curt and impatient with the waiting staff, and in the same breath was pleasant and engaging with me. I couldn’t shake the feeling that he was choosing to whom he was nice to and who he didn’t have time for. Turns out he is well regarded by his line management and rather disliked by his direct reports. He doesn’t respect people he perceives and beneath him.
Another client I coach is wound tight like a piano wire. Nothing is fast enough for her. I asked if we should move out of her office and conduct the coaching, with a coffee, in the learning centre just a short walk away to get out of her frantic office space, she said it would take too long to get there (5 minutes) and we would be wasting time. She gets impatient during our coaching sessions, as if the next thing is so pressing she needs to get to it NOW! She never feels there is enough time in the day.
I was driving with a friend and she terrified me; breaking late, accelerating then breaking even on straight roads and driving up close behind the car in front or driving slowly, well below the speed limit, as if she wasn’t aware. I notice how erratic she is with our conversations, how she is distracted at times and flits from thing to thing; never quite settling on the task at hand. The regularity with which she checks her phone during conversation, driving and all tasks is verging on obsessive. She finds it hard to settle and just be with what is here and now.
The last example is a person I am coaching who doesn’t occupy his space with confidence, he seems apologetic even when he is on time, he criticises all his own work and when he does contribute, which is rare, he caveats most statements with “It’s probably rubbish but I think …” or “I know it’s just me being stupid but what about …”
So, I’ve come to realise that when I tied my belt sloppily at the start of a karate lesson it was representative of how I conduct my self in life and that’s why my teacher, or Sensei, would pick me up in it, hoping to develop my character and good habits.
Looking at your own habits and life, ask yourself how do you wash the dishes? How do you drive? What’s your response to interruptions and other people’s mistakes? How do you communicate with your kids and your staff?
How you do something is how you do everything and practicing the small stuff and becoming more skilful can positively influence the big stuff, you have the opportunity to practice being the leader you want to be in everything you do.