In Turn Enemies Into Allies, I share multiple stories about seeing events through another’s eyes. I sometimes find that easy to do, and other times not easy at all. I think wearing masks in this Covid environment when we’re in close proximity to one another is a good idea, for example, and I’m not trying too hard to see the other side of that argument. And… I know there is one.
Which is probably why in my book I give so much weight to the power of inquiry, curiosity, and nonjudgment — key skills and mental models that give us half a chance to communicate civilly and learn what the world looks like outside our heads. …
Perhaps others who shared these events with me, whose lives crossed mine, would recount the events differently, But that is their story. This is mine, my life as I recall having lived it, my life as I recall having loved it. — Michael C. Metskas
My grandfather, Mike Metskas, was a brave young man when he left his native Macedonia as a 16-year-old to come to America and find his way in the world. …
In my last article, I posed a question about whether you can catch yourself when you’re about to make an assumption about another person’s thoughts or actions, and whether you can choose to move toward curiosity instead of judgment — a crucial awareness if you want to have more skilled conversations.
I think now a more important question than “whether” you can catch yourself is “why you might want to.”
As I read and re-read the post, I came to see it as naive. Those of us who want to catch ourselves making assumptions will do it and get better at it. And there are some who don’t want to get better and maybe don’t care. It confirms our sense of identity, I think, to latch onto an opinion, belief, or value, and not let go. Even when there’s strong evidence to the contrary, we don’t want to see that evidence. …
Have you ever wondered what was going on in another person’s mind when they spoke or acted in a way that for you was unimaginable? Did you leap into curiosity or judgment?
When our indoor pool was still open, I was enjoying the hot tub after my daily swim when I was joined by a fellow early morning swimmer. We know each other by name but otherwise not well. …
My aikido dojo, like other schools, closed temporarily due to the Coronavirus pandemic. I founded Portsmouth Aikido in 1995, and still play an active role, but the current owner and Chief Instructor is Aaron Cass. Students call him Sensei (teacher).
Aaron joined our dojo as a high school senior, continued to study in college and in Japan, and became an avid student of the art. Now a fourth degree black belt, Aaron rejoined Portsmouth Aikido upon his return to the U.S,, and in time took over the leadership role.
Aaron initiated new traditions, achieving 501c3 non-profit status, finding us a dedicated practice space, organizing multiple children’s classes, and inviting well-respected instructors to teach at P.A., …
Beginning again and again is the actual practice, not a problem to be overcome.
— Sharon Salzberg
As I made my way to the exit, the other passengers on my JetBlue flight were taking their time making their way down the aisle. If I could just get off this plane, I might make the 6:10pm bus to Portsmouth and home, and not have to wait an hour for another bus. The flight was already late getting into Boston, and I really wanted to make that bus. …
I’m reading a book by Shari Harley — How to Say Anything to Anyone: A Guide to Building Business Relationships That Really Work. I’ve also watched a couple of her videos, which are easy to find on the Web.
One of the things I like about the book is the title, which grabs your attention. Having written a couple of my own, I know how important that is. I also like Shari’s simple 8-step formula, especially the “State Your Motive” feature, because it shows the speaker’s positive intent:
Life itself is always a trial. In training, you must test and polish yourself in order to face the greatest challenges of life.
~Morihei Ueshiba, Founder of Aikido
In this time of uncertainty and unsettledness, but also of surprising kindness, generosity, and creativity, I’m reminded about the importance of centering and true power.
Centering — the ability to access our clarity, flexibility, stability, and compassion. A mind-body state of calm at the center of the storm.
True power — the ability to achiever purpose, to turn obstacles into energy and resistance into connection.
In my work, I teach these concepts through aikido activities I learned from my teacher, Thomas Crum, many years ago. They offer a physical grounding and a path to presence and personal power, which are especially important in difficult moments. …
Wendy Palmer is writing a new book on “Dragons and Power.” It’s about how to cultivate benevolent dragon energy. Quoting Wendy:
The power within us is like a dragon. In order for our dragons to become protectors they need training. We need to have a way to keep our dragon energy from running wild and becoming destructive.
I love this concept of an inner dragon and can’t wait to read Wendy’s book. The concept puts me in mind of the DreamWorks animated movie “How to Train Your Dragon”.
In the movie, a young Viking boy (Hiccup) creates a relationship with a dragon he names “Toothless.” Hiccup’s dad and the other Vikings in Hiccup’s tribe fear the dragons and want to exterminate them, but Hiccup befriends Toothless, and gradually they develop a relationship. Toothless learns to trust Hiccup, and Hiccup no longer fears the dragon’s huge fiery energy, but instead rides and guides it with courage and love. …
Whenever conflict, large or small, comes along we are about to learn something.
— Donna Schaper, Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City.
I write often about the opportunities inherent in conflict, and about the importance of practice. The concept of practice applies to any skill we want to cultivate and, without doubt, practicing new conflict and communication skills requires some risk-taking.
Yet, every conversation we engage in can be seen as a kind of practice. In the ones that go well, it may be easier to see the skills that worked — I had a clear purpose, I was centered, I asked some useful questions that helped my partner get to what was really bothering them. …