In a recent team building workshop I led with a senior management team, I spontaneously introduced an activity which I called, “conference room aikido.” Participants paired up, stood face to face, and reached across to lightly touch the tips of their partner’s index fingers with their own. Eyes closed, they experimented with leading and following each other, guided exclusively by their fingertip connection. They were asked to notice the flow of the rhythm with their partner. One participant shared later, “when I go too fast, I risk losing the connection with my partner.” In aikido, on and off the mat, we need to stay connected with our partner in order to coordinate skillful action.
The bold visions that we have for our organizations and the lofty goals that we set can seduce us into speeding up. By doing so, we risk losing our partners and allies along the way. We know by now that we can’t do it alone, and that it’s a lot easier to steer the boat when others can help us row.