Life often delivers unexpected blows.

How we deal with sudden shocks shapes our experience of life.

How do you handle the negative shocks?

  • You lose a treasured item. How does it affect you?
  • You are out driving…  you have a flat tire.  How does it affect you?
  • You are waiting for a train…  and it is cancelled.  How does it affect you?
  • Your friend cancels a dinner you were looking forward to.  How do you feel?
  • The air traffic controllers go on strike and your wonderful weekend away is cancelled.  How does it affect you?

I came across George Leonard, author of 15 books and a teacher of the discipline of Aikido.  In the video below he speaks of 4 possible ways to respond to the sudden shocks in life.  He looks at 3 typical human ways of responding, and then demonstrates the Aikido path of response.

The four ways of responding that are demonstrated by George Leonard:

  1. Defensive/Aggressive – respond to the blow with anger and a direct attack.
  2. Victim – respond to the blow as a victim “Poor me, this always happens to me”.
  3. Denial – respond to the blow as if nothing happened.  “I feel nothing, I will go on as I am.”
  4. Aikido Blending – respond to the blow by centering myself, really feeling how the blow affects me, accepting the blow, accepting my feelings and then acting once I have blended the energy of the external blow with my own.

I have been researching the concept of mastery recently. What does it take to achieve excellence in a domain? In a sport, playing the piano, writing, speaking?

George Leonard’s book “Mastery” is based on the Aikido approach to developing the mental and physical aspects of excellence. He speaks of the 5 keys to mastery.  That will be a future blog post.  His first step:  Find a teacher.  I find myself uncomfortable with this…  Is it true that the first step to mastery is finding a teacher?  I don’t know if I agree…


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