What Would You Do if the FBI Knocked on Your Door?


My Aikido martial arts academy attracts a lot of high-powered students in Washington, D.C. I have influential business leaders learning from me, FBI agents and CIA officers, U.S. and foreign diplomats — all sorts of people who are part of the country’s (and the world’s) power structure.

One of those students worked at the Russian embassy in Washington, DC. And one day, some FBI agents approached me. It turned out that this Russian fellow was a signals intelligence officer — in other words, he was a spy. His job was to intercept U.S. signals and try to crack our codes. The FBI was pretty interested in getting close to him and keeping tabs on how his work was going, so they’d know if they needed to change their codes.

Except there was no way to get close to this Russian spy. He was a total creature of habit. He lived and worked at the embassy. He didn’t go out to restaurants or bars. He didn’t date. He went to two places — the grocery store and my Aikido academy.

So the FBI had a proposition for me: They would place two undercover agents in class with the Russian guy. These agents would use the opportunity of my class to try to befriend this guy, get close to him — do the whole spy thing. In return for my cooperation, they would be willing to fund a scholarship that would help some underprivileged person who otherwise couldn’t afford to take classes at my academy.

I had a big choice to make: Should I let the FBI agents infiltrate my class?

As a business leadership keynote speaker, I often share this story with my audience. And I’d like you to think, have you ever been faced with a big decision and didn’t know what to do? What do you do to ensure you are making the best decision possible in your business and personal life? One way to ensure your fear, ego, anger, and/or over-excitement isn’t corrupting your decision-making process is to run your choices through this two-question filter:

Filter Question #1: Ask yourself, “Will the decision I am about to make align 100% with my vision and mission?” If the answer is “no”, then you are about to make a bad decision. Don’t do it. (By the way, if you aren’t clear on your business and/or personal vision and mission, you need to be! Stay tuned for additional blog posts on this, or, contact me to learn how to create or fine-tune your vision and mission…)

Filter Question #2: If the answer to the first question is “yes”, then ask yourself, “Am I doing this free from guilt and obligation?”

Get Into Action: (1) Pick one decision you’ve been putting off making for a couple days, weeks, or months even. We all do it — myself included — so I know you are too. (2) Run your stalled decision through the two filter questions above. If you are facing a REALLY big decision, discuss those two questions with someone you trust — a mentor, spouse, business ally, good friend. Use them to help you make the best decision possible. (3) Take 10-minutes to get into relevant action to move that decision forward, and thus, move forward your career, company, and community.

So if and when the FBI comes knocking on your door asking you to make a BIG, tough decision, you can make the best decision possible. Like I did by telling the FBI “No. No, I will not break the sacred student-teacher trust by having you infiltrate my Aikido Academy.” Turned out to be one of the best decision I ever made.

If you get stuck answering any of these questions or need help, leave a comment below or hit me up on Twitter @mpveltri — I’ll get back to you right away. And If you liked the ideas presented here, please consider purchasing a copy of my nationwide bestselling book, The Mushin Way to Peak Performance: The Path to Productivity, Balance, and Success. In the book, you will find a whole lot more valuable tools and techniques to help you make better decisions, fuel-inject your leadership, and create responsible results in business and life.