12/18/2012 12:34 EST | Updated 02/17/2013 05:12 EST

In Business Are You a Warrior or a Wizard?


Many books compare achievement to a warrior's journey. Males tend to like that analogy because the world we live in today rewards the fighting and hunting skills that are largely, and erroneously, considered male-only traits. However, to achieve business success, one can't be all warrior. One needs to embrace the complementary qualities of the wizard with the power of intuition that helps us sense and avoid danger as well as spot and take opportunities. These are skills often mis-labelled as "female" and undervalued in most businesses. Which are you?

The warrior is against something.

Because the warrior is identified with conquest and battle, the emotion of the warrior is often against something or someone. There's always an opponent or challenge that has to be overcome, and because what we pay attention to always grows, the obstacles keep on coming. In business this often shows up as crisis management.

The wizard is for something else.

Magic is the ability to change one state into another state under the power of will and within the laws of nature, like turning flour into a loaf of bread. The wizard creates something from nothing and transforms obstacles into learning opportunities or tools for continuous improvement.

Warriors ignore their intuition.

Warriors charge headlong into battle, often without a strategy and ignoring any sense of danger. For them, everything hinges on winning this one battle. Energy gets used up quickly, and they feel immortal right up to that final blow. In business, we see this in acute cash-flow mismanagement, which causes 70 per cent of all business failures. It is the culture of "get big fast" -- but for every Google success story, thousands of other small businesses die on the battlefield.

Wizards trust their intuition.

They do so even when it is contrary to what the evidence suggests. Wizards build steel plants when everyone says iron is the way to go. They create ways to make vehicles that are affordable to the working class when everyone else says they should be luxury items. They create electric light bulbs when everyone says they are quite happy with gas lamps. Wizards expend energy only where they sense some good will come of it. For them, survival is more important than the ego boost of a quick victory.

Warriors set goals.

They rely on their abilities to stretch themselves, to take small steps toward their goal, each step increasing their faith in themselves and their cause.

Wizards set intentions.

An intention is a goal but with all the doubt about its attainment removed. Wizards know they can create anything from nothing. There are no limitations and they have a well-developed sense of knowing they can turn amorphous ideas into concrete achievements.

The warrior's journey is stressful.

A warrior has something he or she wants to get, and is determined to get it. But the cost to health and mind can be great.

The wizard's journey is fun.

Wizards are childlike, letting their imaginations take flight.

Much has been made of Mars versus Venus. We can think of warriors and wizards in this same vein. Males tend to be more warrior-like, and women more wizardly. But for success in business, one needs to develop both sides of one's character, and businesses need to value intuitive people as much as the go-getter.

There are three simple steps to do that. The first is to reclaim the mentality of individualism, because no self-made person ever achieved success by following the general opinion of the masses. In the business setting, that means the lone dissenter might be the saviour and not the troublemaker, and the silent voice might be so because her intuition is screaming against the decision.

The second step is to create moments of insight, because it is the brilliant idea, often ridiculed by the masses, that makes the difference for a self-made person's success. In the business meeting, the idea that most consider crazy or unworkable could be the one that's most insightful.

The third step is to turn that idea into reality by developing the sense of knowing that in spite of everyone and everything, your success is a given. We see this in the great business successes where, for example, no one doubts that people will one day stand in line to pay three dollars for a cup of milky coffee or buy all their reading material online through their personal phone.