An evening at the dojo

It’s said that the students of Aikido founder and grandmaster Morihei Ueshiba once asked him, “Sensei, how is it that you are never out of balance?“, to which Ueshiba-sensei replied, “I am constantly out of balance. You never see it because I am constantly correcting it.

This is an incredibly powerful lesson for life, for martial artists, and yes, even for marketers. The idea of a perfect balance is a fiction. The idea that you can just push a button and have all of your marketing needs tended to by magical software or by a standardized cookbook of foolproof recipes is a fiction. Every day, your marketing drifts out of balance. Every day, if you’re good at marketing, you put yourself back in balance. There is no such thing as a status quo.

Imagine for a moment you’re faced with a tightrope. Fall out of balance enough in any direction and you’re off the rope. Now imagine that the rope is at a sharp incline. Even standing still in perfect balance results in your slide backwards. That’s a succinct image of marketing today (and life, too). You must stay in balance, and you must keep climbing. Stay in perfect balance by not moving and you reach the ground slowly but inevitably. Sway wildly and you meet the ground more forcefully and swiftly.

Think about how many things push you out of balance on your ascent to business success through marketing. An ad falls below a minimum click through rate. An email list drops in effectiveness. Google changes the rules on you. Facebook changes its UI again that day. Overreact to any one of them and you’re off the rope. Do nothing and you slide backwards. Only by embracing change, embracing the perpetual loss of balance and adjusting to it, can you actually succeed and make the climb.

Life is change. Life is loss of balance. So is marketing. Enjoy the climb!


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