Discipline, Focus, Self-awareness – 3 “Must Have” Attributes for Any Professional


All of us have undergone some form of physical training as kids. It could be sports, martial arts or basic fitness training. Some have had the inclination to pursue it to a higher level. The bottom line is how many of us remember what we learn as kids?

10299935_10152020690641179_5198867746256546741_nAs a child I took some martial arts training. For practical reasons unknown to me at the time, I pursued the arts, and took a keen interest in various disciplines. After many years today, when I think back, I understand better the practical applications of sport and physical activity.

As a professional, one needs to identify available opportunities. Taekwondo is an art form that teaches the student to use every available opportunity to attack the opponent. The defense techniques taught in Taekwondo are strong, and so are the attack techniques. A fighter needs to be aware of every lapse in defenses, however small – and use the opportunity to attack.

All working professionals need to be aware of their competition and observe minutely, every stance, tactic and position – to identify an opening, or a weakness, to attack (Of course competitively!)

All working professionals need to be disciplined towards work. We use the “urgent/ important” quadrant, time sheets, calendars, etc. Kung Fu is all about discipline. Original practitioners of Kung Fu mastered the art by being disciplined towards something that they did regularly and rigorously. My sensei once told me – “Your best move wouldn’t be among the many moves that you practice once; but among those few that you practice many times.” Something as simple as maintaining a calendar or an email signature with the proper backup instructions is what we all follow to a T.

Every working professional would know his/ her “strongest move” due to the number of times that it has been used. Stick to it, because that strategy would be your best fall-back strategy. Of course, improving one’s repertoire with an added number of skills is always good. But do not forget to practice that one strategy.

Speaking of skill, the sharper your skills, the better the demand for you is. This is logical, and practical. Muay Thai is a form of martial arts that stresses on extreme conditioning of the legs and hands. The defense technique in this form of martial arts focuses more on avoiding the blow rather than blocking it. The effectiveness of a fighter depends on how well conditioned his or her limbs are; or how “sharp” the skills are.

Certification academies for professionals call for regular upgrading of skills. I know of people who have ignored these calls initially, only to learn that their skill needs upgrading at a later stage. Stay sharp, sharpen your tools and be at the top of your game for as long as you want to be in the game!

Possessing good skills at the workplace is good, as long as one is willing to impart the knowledge to subordinates. Being considerate is the key – because if one is not considerate towards a colleague, it eventually translates into bad leadership and management skills. Aikido teaches the art of stunning the opponent without really damaging body parts. The focus of training is more on flexibility and relaxation as against striking techniques. The art focuses on techniques to grab, throw or pin an opponent. In other words, negate the aggression of the opponent without using aggression; and be considerate towards your opponent.

Many of us have been in situations where we have had to lock horns with co-workers; and I am certain that all of us have been guilty of taking the aggression overboard at least once. One needs to remember that at the end of the day, a little consideration shown towards a colleague goes a long way in building healthy professional relationship. Of course the same principle is toothless if one is determined on building an island around oneself!

It is not possible to be the aggressor every time, and we all have been at the receiving end too at the workplace. There have been those bad days where ideas have been shot down and we have gone home in a grumpy mood. Judo teaches the art of using an attacker’s strength against himself/ herself. The techniques of using leverage, gravity, and imbalance are of utmost importance in Judo.

One could apply the same learning at the workplace. Use the situation to an advantage. Someone extremely strong is bound to come down hard at you, and chances are that you may have to duck a blow! One needs to remember that even the best of ideas have some scope for improvement, and the most effective way to do it is by using leverage. Rather than fighting it off, team up, create an alliance, call for talks and go back with a win under your belt – along with your “opponent”!

To sum up, use the learning of discipline, focus and self-awareness that we all learn as kids participating in various sporting activities and rise above challenges faced at the workplace – and in life!

About the Author:

Amit D’Souza is a management professional with a rich and diverse experience of 15+ years. He has worked with industries like logistics, technology, CRM, manufacturing, retail and education. He is a specialist is team building, management strategy, agile partnerships, leadership and leadership development. Amit is also the author of Unorthodox Leadership & Animalism, along with several articles on leadership, management and team building. At present, Amit has a strong and passionate focus on building and developing strategies for entrepreneurs, in alignment with innovation in technology. He can be followed at https://www.linkedin.com/pub/amit-dsouza/13/35/3bb