Calm in the Storm

“If you can keep your head, when all about you are losing theirs, and blaming it on you”.

The first line from one of my favourite poems by Rudyard Kipling, and one I’m sure most of you have all read before.

What I love most about this line is that, it would imply, in order to show you have mastered yourself and mastered your inner control, you need to be surrounded by people who are doing the opposite to you and not the same.

In many previous articles, I have written about the importance of surrounding yourself with people who are following their dreams, striving to improve themselves. People who are happy, people who are dedicated, people who are doing the same things you want to in order that this attitude some how rubs off on you.

“If you want to be happy, surround yourself with happy people”, etc etc.

The reason for this is obviously to give you the opportunity to learn from these people, so that you can realise your own dreams and achieve all of your own goals.

My Winning Formula presentation is all about taking this to the next level whereby we start to look at, not just people, but things, products, businesses, in fact anything that is at the top of it’s game and in our orbit, such that we can learn from it and translate it into our own processes.

What are the attributes that make a formula one car so impressive, and how can we transfer those principals to our own lives in order that we can be at the top of our games too.

However, when you have the drive, when you have the ambition and have all the skills you need to progress to your next level, the real mastery is then not having to be so choosy or restrictive on the outside influences, because they should have no effect on you internally.

Consider for a moment a counsellor or therapist who spends every working day listening to people with severe troubles and issues, and yet is able to somehow shield themselves from these caustic stimuli and remain sane, happy, and sound in their own wellbeing.

Consider a recovering-alcoholic who is still able to socialise in bars and clubs with their friends, who continue to drink, and yet still be the centre of attention and have more fun than most in the group.

It is these people who are most impressive and who have mastered an inner control that we should all strive for.

In fact, even if you have holes, gaps and chinks in your armour, your mission it to be strong enough to still withstand these negatives and be confident in your ability to do so.

Even the bike tyre inner tube that contains a puncture, when immersed in the unfriendly bucket of water, only leaks out its own air, it still doesn’t let the water in.

Abstinence is easy, you simply eliminate the thing you wish to be devoid of completely from your life, but abstaining from excess is far more difficult, because that means you still have this unwanted thing in your life.

And as always, you should know me by now, that I can relate my usual ramblings back to the world of martial arts and self defence – so here goes.

In Martial Arts we have a Zanshin, which has many translations, from its literal translation of “remaining mind” or “remaining spirit”, to the more common looser definitions of “relaxed awareness” or “combative alertness”.

So to apply Zanshin is to maintain a constant alertness, not allowing for any lapse in awareness that would allow an opportunity for an attacker to gain the element of surprise.

Lets for a minute imagine I am in the middle of a fight with a group of horrible individuals, all hell bent on turning my head into a canoe.

They are all fighting in a frenzied, crazy, haphazard way, some strikes making contact, lots more missing completely.

If I follow the previous argument of surrounding myself with the people I wish to be like, then I am likely to be influenced by these opponents and end up fighting in the same way.

I can recall one time when I was in a melee with several people, getting hit from all sides, and in the post-fight debrief, with my fellow doormen in the bar, over my customary cup of tea, we found out that some of the blows were actually from people who were fighting with me, not against me. Now perhaps this was because they didn’t like my naff jokes, but I prefer to think that it was because we had all converted to the same fighting style as those we were pitched against, ie, crazy, uncalculated, scruffy, random and uncontrolled.

Your mission is to follow your own game plan and not be guided by external influences. Picking off your shots, choosing your targets and the most appropriate techniques, not reacting to pain or shock, not giving in when the pressure becomes extreme. Your mission is to remain calm within this storm and make some order from this chaos.

This requires an inner control and a self mastery that means you really can keep your head when all around you are losing theirs.

Consider, also, the boxer in a fight who’s being forced to fight in a way that doesn’t suit his style. His only influence is the one other person in the ring with him at that time, but this opponent is able to make the boxer speed up when he doesn’t want to, move forwards when he’s actually a better counter puncher, trade blow for blow when he should be on his toes and staying out of trouble.

Being able to force your opponent to fight your fight and not theirs is a skill and a valuable aim in any fight and so, when faced with an opponent where they are not easily lead and who refuse to follow your tactics, then you really have met someone who has mastered their inner control.

So, I leave you with this thought.

If you want to be happy, yes, surround yourself with happy people and cut out from your life any negative influences.

But, to quote Mr Kipling one more time, if you want to have true mastery, you should be able to dine with Kings and yet never lose your common touch.

Good luck with your journey and remember to fight your own fight, not theirs.

As always, thanks for reading

Stay Safe and Have Fun

Al x

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!
Rudyard Kipling

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