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Lions Roar : November 2008
SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2008 71 by the word presence, the quality of being fully present and con- nected to the world in a way that brings effectiveness and confi- dence. Presence can have a significant impact in ordinary times, but it brings even greater benefit in the more extreme conditions that the Sun Tzu’s practices are most helpful in. Like a military commander in battle or a teacher in a chaotic classroom, anyone able to hold her composure and perspective in the middle of cha- os—to absorb the energy, integrate it into their own perspective, and hold it while others might be freaking out—communicates confidence and strength to those around her. Forming is any gesture of extending into space, starting with the simple arrangement of things in your world. How you set up your workspace, what chair you sit in when leading a meet- ing, what food and drinks you serve, the air and the lighting, how you initiate a conversation or communicate news, the mo- ment you choose to shift the course of a discussion—all these have impact. On a slightly larger level, the position you take on a critical issue will shape the decision-making options for your colleagues and coworkers. These kinds of strategic actions can contribute to creating victorious environments. The text says that, One skilled at moving the enemy Forms and the enemy must follow, Offers and the enemy must take. (CHAPTER 5) Forming is most effective when it includes the perspective of the whole, paying attention to all the factors likely to affect a situation. If you are growing a garden, with the right mix of air, heat, water, and earth, the seeds can take root and flourish. If those elements aren’t balanced properly, it may not matter what else you do. An excellent example of forming came to us in a story about a city councillor whose neighborhood became a battle- ground involving students, landlords, the university, and local homeowners. University policies had increased the number of students seeking housing in family neighborhoods. Landlords used zoning loopholes to create subpar rooming houses that nevertheless carried high rents. So, the houses became packed with students, who made noise and lit- tered garbage around the neighborhood. Police patrols and punish- ing the students did not affect the landlords, and thus they couldn’t be drawn in to discussions to address the problems. The councillor took the unusual and politically dangerous step of pushing through a bylaw that assessed fines on the landlords for infractions committed by their tenants. This immediately brought the wrath of the land- lords and jeopardized her reelection. However, it also got their atten- tion, and brought them to the table. They saw that responsible be- havior would strengthen rather than threaten their rental business; as a result, subsequent fall move-in seasons have been successively qui- eter. The councillor formed the ground by an action outside of the She invited Bob to share a lunch at her house, and after they had relaxed with talk of their own children, she pointed out to him that events had clearly reached a point where things would change—no matter how much he or she may want them to stay the same. Through her gentle shaping of the situation, Bob faced the discomfort and unease that he had been feeling. NOV 68-73.indd 71 NOV 68-73.indd 71 9/1/08 12:23:17 PM 9/1/08 12:23:17 PM