In a recent posting by Rory Miller, "Out of the Box," he asks a question that has had me thinking for several days not, i.e. "The people looking for books on leadership are not looking for those names." This is about Lawrence Kane and Kris Wilder's new book, "Sensei, Mentor, Teacher, Coach." It comes down to what is associated with their names, i.e. martial arts.
In the martial arts world people who are not in that world tend to make quick assumptions. They see the title with "Sensei" in it then they look it up and find out it is a title for the martial arts and they swing right to the word "karate or MMA or some other martial art" then the assign the title "sport" to it and then move on not pausing long enough to see within the pages more than merely another martial art book.
This seems in my mind a lot like the martial arts community where we all see the majority of martial arts books as economically driven money makers with little substance then when someone like these two gentlemen as well as a few others put out a book it sometimes gets left in with all the other "stuff."
Take for instance "The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense." This series of books would never have come across my radar if not for the books on violence that Rory Miller has published for us. Dr. Suzette Haden wrote them in the eighties and until I read about the book in Rory's bibliography I never heard of her or her work. Then, thinking of the title I almost discarded getting a copy but considering what I had just read in Rory's book I decided to gamble and get a copy. I will never regret it and I have all six of her series and found them of great value. Not just for my martial arts studies but for things both personal and professional in my life, i.e. my personal life at home and my professional life at work (i.e. I don't make a living off of martial arts but work in IT, etc. to make a living). I am still finding out more about myself from those books as well as books like Sensei, Mentor, Teacher, Coach and Conflict Communications.
Now, back to how one would transcend a singular model or mold, i.e. the heading of either "martial arts" or "sports." How to get all those non-martial artists and non-sport activists to read these books. As I stated at the beginning I have been contemplating this for a while since I read it in Rory's blog post.
Human instinct is about groups and survival. In one group we collect like minded folks together to survive (not literally as in keeping out the lions, tigers and bears). This instinct is strong and to gain access takes a considerable amount of work and luck. Rory in his book ConComm speaks of how new folks enter into a new group at work and perceptions as to that person makes a difference in how they are accepted. He breaks it down into gender (pardon me, but gender does matter even if we consider ourselves both male and female as equals - I do, but still we are different). When a woman connects with a new work group she is expected to do things a certain way. When a man connects with a new work group he is expected to do things a certain way. Both are as different as Mars from Venus.
Then there is in general how we all have our cultural groups and this seems to me to work the same as to categories of books, movies, etc. If a movie is listed as science fiction and you hate science fiction you are in all likelihood not going to see it. An example is the movie "Salmon Fishing in Yemen." My wife and her friend asked me if I wanted to go see this movie with them. Initially, I read the title and thought to myself, "What the f*&^ would I find in a movie about fishing in Yemen?" Well, I decided that for other reasons I would go with them and worst case scenario get a good nod off in a dark theater. I was very pleased to find out that once I got past that title, got in the theater and the movie began that I was very pleased I came, the movie was a great one.
This seems to be the issue with books like Mr. Wilder's and Mr. Kane's. The title and the category that the book is listed under pretty much pigeon hole it right in that location where if someone looking for a leadership book just happens to read this post or read a post somewhere else where the topic of leadership, etc. is prominent then maybe that person will do like I did with Dr. Haden's book, get it, read it and then find it of great value even if it is a martial arts book under the misnomer category of "sport."
I mean if these two gentlemen were actually famous "football or basketball coaches" who wrote a book on their respective disciplines as a book on leadership there is a much greater probability that someone looking for just a leadership book would find these gems.
Now that I have given my opinionated opinion I can see that the only path toward breaking out of the box these books are put into by publishers that the best way to get this moved into a more mainstream diverse readership is to get someone prominent outside of martial arts and sports who has a reputation in leadership, etc. to promote this with that category of readers. Like Wim Demeere's blog post, this is a simple answer with a complexity and difficulty level very, very high. There is also "luck."
Personally, when I make recommendations in my library reviews I may sound like I am giving "advice." Unsolicited advice is ofter a "no-no" and often causes the recipient to "shut down" and not listen saying to self, "who the f*&* does this guy think he is?" Another ceiling to break through.
The only time I believe advice is acceptable is when it comes from authority expert figures who are already well-respected by the masses without barriers. One as an example is "Oprah Winfrey" and her book club. Now, if you got her to read these books and to make a recommendation then the entire world would flood Amazon to purchase a copy. Now, this would be really cool. What is the likelihood? You never know, right. Maybe my suggestion is to see if her book club allows recommendations and then make one that is more generic toward leadership over just "another martial art sport book."
Who in the leadership community with a wide audience of followers could you contact and possibly get to read a copy and promote it from their end. Does anyone know of such a person and would they consider making the suggestion. After all, there is a series of books that only made it to the best seller list because a publisher just happened to pick up the submission on a lark to read at lunch while waiting for a client, right. This book and the following five followups became a best seller and transcended gender as well as age obstacles and was read by just about everyone. If that submission had been underneath another it may have never been printed (think wizards and a wizard academy ;-).
I know from experience that all these authors who I would recommend to everyone be they martial artists or just a person who wants to find ways to improve who they are already but how to get them to make that purchase is another story as well.
I have spent at least the last ten years working on improving myself. I am talking about as a martial artists but also as a person. Come on, a good Sensei has to be a good person too. If not, you don't get the good of martial arts, just learn how to dance around, etc. and maybe win a couple of trophies. A good sensei has to have the same principles of leadership as any other discipline.
I have read only a small part of Mr. Kane's and Mr. Wilder's book so far. I have read almost the entire Conflict Communications book from Rory Miller. I can tell you, personally, there is a lot more than information about martial arts, self-defense and violence in these books as they all are based on some sound foundational fundamental principles that transcend any one discipline.
Like I profess on fundamental principles of martial systems it is the same with these books, the principles are relevant and important to any endeavor of mankind, of humans and transcend any group, cultural and belief systems.
If I could get everyone who reads this to go the distance, buy the books and read them with an open mind and then just a few of their friends and their friends would do the same all of them would find benefits beyond what they would normally expect in a book listed in a category that is limiting.
Anyway, maybe I have some answers here and maybe I don't but I can tell you that their, these authors and others, influences have helped me "see and hear" beyond the cover of the book. I look at the content for value for the category and for outside the category - you just never know.