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During line-up to conclude class, Sensei brought up something I asked him a while back. Referring to one of his favorite phrases, he looked at me with a smile and inquired, "Are you practicing the aikido that cannot be seen?"
Caught in a deer-in-headlights moment, I answered with a timid, "Umm--maybe...?"
"Still not sure, huh?" he asked, laughing.
"Still figuring it out, Sensei," I replied.
He never directly told me what he meant by "the aikido that cannot be seen," and while I spent at least a good half hour and two blog entries musing about its meaning, I couldn't give him a straight answer, guarded by the voice in the back of my head that nags, "What if I'm wrong?"
One thing I'm pretty sure it alludes to is how applicable aikido is in my everyday life. For the past three months, I've been trying to hire an additional person for my meager department of two. It's been quite a experience of seemingly endless resume-browsing, phone-screening, and on-site interviewing (x2); trying to achieve committee consensus on one candidate from a stock pile of nearly 200 resumes has been no easy feat. This is especially a challenge as I'm new to the hiring/managerial responsibilities, hoping to grow in my role.
It's true aikido teaches you combat skills, but it also teaches you the ways to conflict resolution. Today, after a second interview with a candidate I'm hoping to hire, I faced my boss as he presented me with his opinions of the candidate's strengths and weaknesses. I am tired of trying to hire, ready to start training a new team member. I assessed the openings in my boss's arguments, decided to blend with him, riding that common wave created by our merging energies, and to go for the approach that took the least amount of effort to yield the desired results. I tried not to let my insecurities show despite being new at this, having less hiring experience than he did. I made my point and stood firm; I didn't let my will power waver. And in the end, he yielded, perhaps detecting in my iron resolve my ability to handle the situation and embrace my responsibilities. Even if it turns out I may be wrong about certain things, I'd have the passion and desire to correct my mistakes in the long run. We all start somewhere, and by seeking perfection to begin with, we may lose the chance at a good candidate who projects enthusiasm and is eager to learn. I am ready to face him, ready to say, "Onegai-shimasu," let the training begin.
"Are you practicing the aikido that cannot be seen?" The next time Sensei asks, I will have a concrete example to look back upon. Then I can answer, "Hai, Sensei. At least I try to, every single day."