How to deal with the Blows that Life Gives Us

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…

Author: Conor Neill

Hi, I’m Conor Neill, an Entrepreneur and Teacher at IESE Business School. I speak about Moving People to Action.

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