Some of the Ways Martial Arts Can Help Freelancers
Freelancing is one of the toughest ways to make consistent income, but by 2027, freelancers are anticipated to make up over 50% of the US working population!
That’s a lot of people, and a lot of adapting to life outside the office. Personally, I think every freelancer should know the basics of martial arts.
So, why should every freelancer know martial arts?
It’s not about protecting yourself. Really. It’s about the principles of the practice that happen to match up with what all freelancers need to know to survive in the cutthroat world of the gig economy.
Because the gig economy is hard. But a freelancer who knows the basics of martial arts is already a step ahead of the game.
Here are some of the ways martial arts can help freelancers:
Always show up on time.
This is super important. Whether you’re going to martial arts training or meeting a client, there’s an element of respect that’s key. It demonstrates that you care and that you are there to do your best.
Respect and be courteous to everyone around you.
One thing I learned over the years in martial arts is – no matter how big or small someone is, treat them with respect, and the situation will go better for everyone. Treating everyone with courtesy and respect in martial arts helps make sure that when you get into the sparring ring, there’s no animosity – just good sportsmanship.
The same is true with juggling clients. Treating them with respect, even when times are frustrating, will make all your gigs go more smoothly. If you’re working with a lot of company clients, treating a company assistant with respect will help you get into meetings and get the jobs you’re looking to do.
Persevere, no matter what.
The going will get tough. Sometimes you’ll have days when 5 clients want something all at once! Find how you best keep motivated – is it coffee? A walk around the block? A break to just look outside for a moment?
Learn whatever it is that keeps you moving forward. You need to know what helps you do your best, both in martial arts and freelancing.
Don’t underestimate anyone.
You might meet a client and think, this person doesn’t know what they’re talking about, only to learn a week later – it’s their boss who doesn’t know, or they know, they’re just using different language than you are. Anyone can be surprised, and anyone can be surprising.
Anticipate problems before they arise.
Any good martial arts practitioner has a number of different defenses, combinations, reactions, and offensive moves ready to go. This is also the case in freelancing. You never know when someone might call you at 6 AM, because a launch didn’t go smoothly. It doesn’t actually matter whose fault it is (and, hopefully, it isn’t yours), but you’re going to need to think on your feet and adjust quickly.
Always be learning.
I learn from my clients and jobs every time I take on a new one. Each situation offers me the opportunity to do something a little better, or a little differently. It gives me the chance to assess their needs and respond with my best effort. My best effort for a major corporation might be just as meaningful as an effort for an individual who’s just starting out. But they likely require different tactics, and I need to have all of my skills ready, plus the ability to learn new things and adapt. Understanding the need to constantly learn is one of the ways martial arts can help freelancers.
Know when to fight and when to flee.
In my first few years of freelancing, I took every gig that came my way. I needed to, in order to make ends meet. But, that also taught me the lesson that I can’t win every time. Some clients are difficult, and some are a personality mismatch, and some don’t have the resources to provide you with what you need.
I remember one client who wanted me to analyze some data. They handed me a check for $100 to access a specialized database… that cost $500 for a subscription. They hadn’t done their research, I learned something new, and I realized that that client was going to be difficult (they were). I talked to the client, who wanted me to move forward without any more upfront pay. I didn’t cash their check, and I left the project.
That experience taught me that I needed to make sure my contracts indicated up front costs, what I had at my disposal, and what was their responsibility. By then, I knew not to work with clients who wanted me to pay to work for them.
I invest in my resources (software, computer, classes, phone, etc), but if someone wants me to use a specialized piece of equipment or software, or take a new class – the client pays for that. If they’re not able to do so, I may not be the right person for them, and that’s ok. I don’t have to be perfect for every situation, and I know that different people will have different strengths (and bank accounts).
Knowing when to walk away and which battles are worth fighting will save you and the client a lot of headache down the line. This is one of the key ways martial arts can help freelancers – understanding when to run and when to stay.
This one is so important. Whenever you can, try to stay cool under pressure. Freelancing is filled with high-pressure situations, and being able to keep your cool will make you a valuable worker.
Always do your best.
There’s nothing more important in freelancing or martial arts than doing your best. It’s important for your projects, your safety, your reputation, and your future.
Here’s the thing. No one is perfect, and no one can do all these things, all the time. But my time learning the basics of martial arts has taught me a lot more about freelancing skills and principles than any other experience.
Though I know it’s not for everyone, and admittedly this is a bit tongue-in-cheek, I definitely believe the basics of martial arts can take you far in any situation where you need to hustle to succeed.
If you dug this, check out our article on 17 Things to Remember Your First Year of Freelancing.