The martial art of emailing

Xin Fu: The Martial Art of emailing – Nothing is needed (nanni mo iranu)

Kyudo is an old Japanese martial art which is still actively practiced around the world. It is called by its practitioners “the way of the bow”

Awa, a Kyudo master, said the following:

“As for the stance, the positioning of the body, the positioning of the bow, the grip on the bow, the grip on the string, the raising of the bow, the drawing of the bow, the draw length, the extension, the tension, the balance of hard and soft, the stretch, the rainfall release, and the morning storm release: I see that none are needed” (The myth of Zen in the art of archery)

Actually, what he meant by “nothing is needed” is that in the beginning no technique is necessary. You can pick up your bow and shoot on targets without knowing anything about this martial art. But if you want to reach a certain level in this art; you will need a proper training and hard practice.

To send an email, nothing is needed either. People receive a computer on the first day at work supposing they know how to send emails and the consequences can clearly be identified every day when you look into your inbox. Most of us are just shooting dozens of emails before reaching the actual target where one arrow only would have “done the job». There is clearly a difference between the art of emailing and the art of shooting emails.

If you had to learn Kyudo today, you would spend at least the first 2 years shooting on a Makiwara (a cylinder of straw) placed 2 meters in front of you. You would not be permitted to shoot at a target on the archery range (which is twenty-eight meters long) before your instructor decides that you have reached a sufficient level to start shooting on a target.

Imagine the same principle applied in a company for sending emails, no one would have the right to send an email to a partner or a customer before having received a proper instruction. They would just be authorized to send emails internally (to specific targets).

Some firmly believe that the new generation has been instructed to do so during their studies but this idea is completely utopian. And even if they have received a training, the context of your company will place them in front of an unknown target in an unstable stance and with a new parameter: shooting alone in a windy environment.

If the new generation can easily be trained, the oldest generation might not easily admit that their technique was never acquired in a proper manner. Like Martial Art, you cannot learn this in a book or by watching a DVD. You need a proper instruction and few of us sacrifice their time doing so.

But the consequences of this lack of instruction are real and in Xin Fu like in Kyudo, hitting the send button or “releasing the string” have this in common: you cannot stop the email/arrow you just sent. Mastering this art means that you need to sacrifice time learning to have a proper stance, a calm breath, and a mind that can shoot in any situation. In an era where some preach the end of the email (not for tomorrow), learning this martial art will enable you to learn the basics for any new Martial Art you may come across in the future.

Who really instructed you to send emails?

How are you developing your email skills?

I would love to hear your comments.

3 Responses to “Xin Fu: The Martial Art of emailing – Nothing is needed (nanni mo iranu)”

  1. Emeric Nectoux

    Le parallèle entre le Kyodo et le Xin Fu est bien trouvé. :-) Tu aurais même pu pousser la métaphore jusqu’à la maitrise de soi que requiert le tir à l’arc (et d’autant plus le Kyodo) avec celle dont il faut parfois faire preuve avt de cliquer sur “send”.
    Une idée d’article pour toi dans la même veine: le “reply to all syndrom”



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