“Learn to lower your fist because there are so many things we miss because our hands are always in our faces.” ( What Do Men Want, 2019 )

This is a power packed statement. I know that we have been socialized to fight back, always defend ourselves, never lower our guard and when we get the chance, hit back. We have learned to fight for and defend ourselves from many things by having our hands in our faces like some sort of shield. We shield ourselves from harm and hurt by assuming this guarded position. The shields manifest in the ways we carry ourselves, how we respond and react to different situations around us and even in our thought patterns and speech. In light of that, could there be things that we or our organizations and businesses are missing because our hands are always in our faces?

Lately, I have taken keen interest in boxing – a very strange but deeply amazing sport. It has taught me to relax and remain alert. In this piece, I would like to share some of my learnings in the hope that they, and the questions herein, will help us rethink, re-evaluate and rework our leadership of ourselves and by extension, those under our care.

Hissing: It has been said several times to practice breathing as a self care tool. In boxing, it is called hissing. Almost all strikes benefit from tension/exhale, so it is common to exhale on most hits – a light breath on a light hit, and a heavy breath on a hard hit. It is a way to let out bad energy and release tension while letting in positive vibes that propel you to stand and face the fight. Breath is also a symbolic of giving life and fanning flames. Do your dreams need reigniting with breath? Are you or your organisation on life support that you need to hiss?

How often do you practice breathing?

Hugging: While it looks like a hug from the outside, it’s actually a tactical maneuver in boxing. Clinching is typically used for three reasons; to break up an opponent’s rhythm, to take a bit of a break because you’re hurting, or to rest when you are desperately waiting for the bell to ring.

Do you often stop or pause and hug yourself or your organisation to break up monotonous rhythms or just recover from hurt?

Training: You can never master what you don’t practice. Boxers need to focus on compound movements such as deadlifts and squats which virtually work the entire body. Training helps them increase not only strength and muscle size but also skill.

When was the last time you trained your leadership muscle? When was your last organisational and personal leadership work out?

When, on your own leadership journey and in your style, have you taken a moment to disrupt your rhythm, to rest, and to take a break while you wait out certain storms to pass?

This is something; a process that will take a lot of time to unlearn and I can’t promise that we will arrive at the desired destination tomorrow. While we are on this unlearning journey, I pray that we will be kind to ourselves, that we will deal with ourselves in patience and understanding, and though once in a while, punches will fly and hit others or you so hard and sting, it’s okay.

The lessons will be continued next week.

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