My Aikido martial arts academy attracts a lot of high-powered students in Washington, D.C. I have State Department employees studying with me, FBI and CIA agents, U.S. and foreign diplomats, all sorts of people part of the country’s — and the world’s — power structure.
One of those students worked at the Russian embassy. And one day, some FBI agents approached me. It turned out that this Russian guy was a signals intelligence officer. 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 guy. He was a total creature of habit. He lived at the embassy, he 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 the 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 student who otherwise couldn’t afford it take classes at my Academy.
I had a choice to make: Should I let the FBI agents infiltrate my class or not?
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? One way to ensure your fear, ego, and/or anger isn’t corrupting your decision making process is to practice The Mushin Way principle of remaining centered. In Japanese, this is called “Nen” and means “one-point”. It refers to your physical center of gravity, a point two inches below your navel. Metaphorically, nen refers to a sense of cosmic balance that keeps you from being pushed over psychologically by your fear, ego, or overconfidence.
One way to develop your one-point when faced with a big decision is to simply 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. If the answer is “yes”, then you have some additional work to do. Further ask yourself, “Am I doing this free from guilt and obligation?”
These two questions will help to keep you grounded, centered, and assist with maintaining your one-point. If you feel unbalanced like you are being buffeted from side to side by whatever decision you are facing, then your one-point is slipping away. Sit down and discuss those two questions with someone you trust — a mentor, spouse, parent, good friend. Use them to help get your one-point back so you can make the best decision possible. Like telling the FBI agents “No. No, I will not break the sacred student-teacher trust by having you infiltrate my Aikido Academy.” It turned out to be one of the best decision I ever made.
Let me know what tough decisions you are facing by leaving a comment below. I’ll be sure to support you any way I can.