Nine Principles for Black Belt Leadership

In my years of experience in the marital arts, I’ve developed concepts and insights that are the core of growth. Each concept is developed using several key principles that are specifically cultivated in martial arts training.

These principles are the building blocks for the concepts that are the path to being a true Black Belt as well as great leadership:

Respect in the form of a bow at the door, bow to the instructor and bow to an opponent, is the very first thing a martial arts student learns. Respect underpins everything that is done in the martial arts, and is the bedrock of everything we do.

Confidence doesn’t have anything to do with an inflated sense of self. Rather, true confidence is the powerful by-product of the certain knowledge that you have trained yourself carefully and completely, and that you are prepared to handle any challenge that comes along. Confidence isn’t the absence of fear; it’s being able to take action in spite of fear.

Flexibility refers not only to the body’s ability to bend and stretch, but also to the mind’s ability to change the way we look at things based on new information or challenges that present themselves.

Focus and its importance, more than anything else, is taught in martial arts. Tuning out all distractions in order to be laser-focused on demand is a skill that must be learned. A combination of exacting body awareness and keen mental concentration results in a level of focus that is remarkably powerful.

Discipline in its essence, is “Doing the right thing, even when no one is looking.”

Balance, like flexibility, has a literal and figurative application. Balance refers also to emotional equilibrium, and without it, it is impossible to find the focus needed to move forward.

Control is in the basic forms and sets of movements that are learned in martial arts. By controlling our body’s movements, by controlling ourselves, we control the fight.

Momentum is created by appropriate alignment of hands, hips and stances. Small adjustments can create huge shifts in momentum and can create significant reactions. Momentum can change the tide of an interaction.

Indomitable Spirit, or the mental or spiritual nature of martial arts, is equally important and proves to be far more elusive. Learning to leverage your individual spirit in order to keep going and “never give up” is a watershed moment in the journey to Black Belt.

If you are following my blog, you know that my passion for the martial arts has many parallels to the art of leadership. It is these core principles that are the cornerstone of the path to Black Belt and emerging through the stages of leadership.

Scott Alexander is a published author, a coach to entrepreneurs and senior executives, an accomplished speaker, and a strategy/leadership consultant.