I interviewed Aikido master and executive coach, Chris Thorsen, recently. We discussed a leader’s responsibility to create a workplace culture in which employees thrive. Chris emphasized the leader’s responsibility for their own energy and attention in order to be prepared to build a vital company culture.
Chris works with leaders to develop practices which help them pay attention to what is required in the moment and act with integrity. Tesshu’s 3 swords distinguish three distinctive domains for a leader’s attention and action.
The Sword of Death (or discernment)
The sword of death is the sword of discernment. It splits this from that, one from another. It offers a path to perception, decision and certainty. A leader uses the sword of death to create boundaries and to bring focus, clarity and judgment.
The Sword of Life (or connection)
The sword of life is the sword of connection. It cuts so sharply that it cleaves things together. It offers a path to empathy and compassion. It is deep listening, respect, and love. A leader uses the sword of life to create collaboration and community.
The Sword of No-Sword (or creativity)
The sword of no-sword is the sword of possibility and presence. It works with intuition and it generates spontaneous action. It synchs with the existing energy and requires zero control, only trust in not knowing. A leader uses the sword of no-sword to create a future that is distinct from the past.
Tesshu walked a path through his enemies without any attachment to the final outcome – he only carried a deep sense of integrity and purpose. He was instrumental in avoiding civil war without ever knowing how the future would unfold.
In what ways do you wield each of the three swords?
Most leaders I encounter understand the importance of the first two swords: discernment and connection. They may not have mastered either, and each takes on-going practice. Too often, they believe culture-building only belongs in the domain of the sword of life – connection, when in fact, culture-building requires attention in all three domains.
Rare leaders understand and practice the sword of no-sword – creativity, in which outcomes are released to the greater purpose of the organization. These leaders adapt and evolve quickly to ever-changing circumstances. They create companies they never could have imagined – widely more successful and different than any plan could have foretold.