Friday, January 23, 2009

The Secret to Life?

I love this diagram, swiped shamelessly from Seth Godin's blog:

Pretty much says it all, doesn't it? Be generous, stay calm, manage your anger. If we could master this lesson, we wouldn't need the martial arts at all!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Day for Personal and Professional Development

Next week, I'm going to attend a conference on "Managing Conflict." As a corporate professional, working at what I affectionately call "my crappy day job," I deal with conflict in the workplace all the time: there are conflicts with employees, other departments, vendors, and projects that need to be dealt with every day. But as a martial artist, developing "effective methods for managing interpersonal conflict" is the very medium and essence of my art. (We regularly practice and refine effective methods for knocking people on their butts…)

But here's where worlds collide. The course I am taking is called "An Aiki Approach to Conflict," and it will be led by Judy Ringer, sixth dan in aikido. Judy's workshop is designed to help individuals, teams, and organizations find new ways to manage conflict, hold difficult conversations well, and operate with power and presence.

The goal of the particular workshop I am scheduled to attend is to provide perspective, tools, and training in self-management and conflict transformation. Perfect! As a manager in a corporate office, this training should serve me well. As a martial artist embarking on a journey of peace education, going to this workshop is a great milestone: Engaging in personal peace education is a cornerstone of both the UBBT (Ultimate Black Belt Test) and the Black Belt requirements and curriculum at my dojo.

Worlds are colliding, and I'm starting to have a little trouble distinguishing between training at the dojo and training for my job and my life.

My life is becoming my dojo! Less butt kicking, more authentic power. Love it.

Monday, January 12, 2009

If You Build It, They Will Come (and you'll have to let go of control)

I'm getting used to our new dojo space. We've started the new year off with a bang: 11 new students in our adult white belt course — a record! We also launched our Little Dragons program over the weekend, with more than 20 kids — and their parents — coming to the dojo for a trial class.

I'm excited to see such rapid growth. Even our yoga classes are finally gaining some traction! At the same time, though, as the Chief Instructor at the dojo, I suddenly find myself agonizing over a thousand minute details that I'd never really considered before: traffic flow inside the dojo, fingerprints on the windows, the number of pens and clipboards at the front desk, the cleanliness of the bathrooms, the current thermostat setting...

I can't possibly handle all the details myself. While I know that organization is the key, I'm also learning all about letting go, and I'm relying more and more on my capable staff to take charge, and to get things done. It's a great lesson for me — really!

Letting go, trusting others, not obsessing too much, being open and flexible, missing self-imposed deadlines, letting some things break, being okay with imperfection, going with the flow, enjoying the process and not just the product — THIS is my Ultimate Black Belt Test. And it feels as though I'm a White Belt all over again.

This is a test full of lessons you would think that as a veteran Black Belt, I would have learned a long time ago! I think I'll share these points with my new crop of White Belts...

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Pain is Weakness Leaving the Body

Oddly, I'm really enjoying the mild discomfort that's associated with getting back into shape: the aches, pains, and muscle tightness —and the desperate gasping for air during the cardio workouts — They all serve to remind me that I'm still alive!

(Consider for a moment, the alternative of "not feeling anything" No pain, no pleasure, no joy, no sorrow.... Boring, right? Good, now let's get back on the deck for more pushups and feel something!)

In my Marine Corps Days we used to joke, "pain is weakness leaving the body" But now, all of this pain also makes me ask the question, "Why the heck did I let myself get out of shape in the first place? Yup, wisdom comes with a price, I guess.

One of my New Year's resolutions is to spend more time in the present moment. I'm very aware that I engage in a lot of planning, strategizing, and generally over-thinking, over-trying, and over-doing — even to the point of sleeping less to get more done. I'm moving so fast these days that I hardly know where I'm going, much less realizing and appreciating where I am.

So, since I was up thinking anyway, one of the strategies I outlined to accomplish my goal of more quiet appreciation of the NOW is to begin a more formal study of various meditation practices. Sure, I sit for a few minutes almost every day, but it's time to get focused!

I've picked up a couple of books and CDs to help me along. Of note, I found a step-by-step guidebook on Insight Meditation. Okay, it's still in the plastic wrap, but having it on the shelf is a good start, right?

Am I really too busy to find 15 minutes in my day to stop and do nothing? How sad!

It's time for a change.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


It's been a while since my last post -- between the holidays and building out the new dojo space, I've been a little busy. But the holidays are over, and we have completed the move to our new dojo, so I'm out of excuses for not writing. I kicked off the year with a goal of attempting 1,000 push-ups on January 1. I'm not ashamed to admit that I fell short and didn't accomplish the goal: after all, 740 push-ups in one day is probably more than most people did!

At our dojo, we're kicking off a 6-week "fitness cycle" aimed at getting everyone back in shape. Each week, we do a selection of calisthenics (push ups, sit ups, leg presses), adding repetitions or new exercises — and sometimes both — during each successive week. The fitness cycle will end on Valentines Day, when we'll get the whole dojo together for a "fitness graduation" workout.

Let the games begin!