Podcast 21: Lisa Griffiths interview part 1 edited excerpt
Feb 15, 2017
MO: There’s so much of an overlap with Judo and Aikido, because I know that Professor Kano and O Sensei – Ueshiba Sensei – they both had very similar philosophies in the sense that Budo training, or martial arts training, was more about perfecting one’s self, developing one’s character, and then to do that for the good of others and for the good of the world. So how has that thinking influenced your leadership philosophy and how you go about leading organisations?
LG: Well, you’re absolutely right about Ueshiba and Kano, and what I think is quite remarkable is that both of those great Sensei’s, they actually knew that to get a better world, a better society, a more prosperous society, was [the need] to understand one’s self and its connection to others. And for me, the way I’ve evolved my thinking in leadership is to embed those principles in understanding my consciousness, and linking that then to how self-aware you are. Many leadership writings discuss the term of authenticity, but I think the philosophy of Kano’s teachings is very much about how you become almost self-less, and for me, trying to bring that into leadership and see beyond the individual. Whereas today we would commonly describe values, Kano used the term ‘virtuous deportment’. And whilst it sounds very posh and old school, it was all about how you looked after one’s self and also how you looked after society.
Now, as we relate it back to Budo and Judo principles, getting to those higher level[s] of consciousness is something that takes years and years of practise, so in my leadership model, it’s about trying to get people to raise their consciousness and to understand [themselves] in a very authentic way, whilst at the same time developing one’s self to think beyond them self.
MO: Tell me more about virtuous deportment. Why is that so important to focus on?
LG: Well, it’s almost stripping yourself of ‘self’. There’s a lot of myths that we often perpetuate. One is that we’re all inherently selfish, and that we can put ourselves before others. And we live in a society where we are consumer-driven, instant gratification. And virtuous deportment challenges all of that. It’s very much about being still. And one of things that’s really important in the dojo and in life is discipline. And discipline can only be applied when you understand what you’re being disciplined about. So you can train really, really hard, and you can put hours and hours and hours in the dojo, but if you don’t understand the intent of all that training and what it’s serving, then it’s a bit fruitless. So virtuous deportment is having a real connection to yourself and knowing when to dial down the things that you maybe seek too much of, and emphasising the things that you maybe don’t do enough of in relation to self and to others.
Virtuous deportment is really about that, it’s about learning about everything you need to know about one’s self, becoming more connected to others around you and understanding the impact of your actions, and the correlation between the dojo and the corporate world is no different. I see the two as an extension of one another.