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D: Direction, Decision, and Discipline
D: Direction, Decision, and Discipline
by Lynn Seiser
01-16-2012
D: Direction, Decision, and Discipline

Breathe in, direction
Breathe out, decision
discipline

I often tell people there are only three factors to consider in life: what do you really want in life, what do you have to do to get it, and then to get up every day and do that.

Sounds simple doesn't it? Like most things, it is easier said than done. But it is easier done than not done, but the temporary inconvenience of doing it is easier than the long term consequences of not doing it. All successful people will tell you the same thing. If you do not have a plan to succeed then you are already planning to fail.

So what do you want? What do you really want? In Aikido and in life? What?

direction: (1) management -- instructions given on how to get to a place or how to do something, (2) way -- points or orients, (3) development, (4) a feeling of having a definite goal or purpose

I remember finally learning that I was not very goal oriented. When asked what I wanted in life, I had to admit that I really didn't know. Okay, I knew I wanted to be healthy, happy, successful, and above all loved. I supposed that was a good enough goal. The problem was when I found them, finally achieved some degree of my goal, I would destroy it. Only to start over and work towards the exact same goal again. This goal oriented didn't seem to work for me.

I see a lot of people do this in their Aikido training. They set their sights on that black belt. That is their goal. That is what they want. They don't want the training that goes into it, the time, the patience, the humility. They want the goal, the end result, not the process of getting there. And once there, now what, drop out. This is a problem in any behavioral health issue where people want to lose weight and get in shape but they don't want to watch their nutrition or have to break a sweat. Everyone wants to be a rock star, but few people will really learn to play guitar. Everyone wants that Ph.D.; they just don't want to have to go to school to get it. Everyone wants the skills and magic of an Aikido master, but they don't want to have to do what it takes to become one.

I see this is relationships too. A lot of people can get that first date. It's the repeat business they have difficulty with. Often their goal is to get the date so they do what is necessary to get it. This may include being a total phony or lying about their true intentions. When we achieve our goal, our motivation and direction changes or just plain stops. That goal may be a date, sex, engagement, marriage, or children. It's a definite defined discreet event or destination. What happens once it is achieved or once you have arrived?

Perhaps rather than be goal directed and oriented we can become direction directed and oriented. Perhaps the goal isn't happiness, but to obtain, maintain, and make as many people happy for as long as we possibly can. Perhaps the goal isn't health, but to obtain, maintain, and promote healthy habits for as many people as we possibly can for as long as we possibly can.

Perhaps we just need to find the direction we want to take our lives (on and off the mat) without much thought to the goals along the way. They say that when we find ourselves in a hole we should stop digging. Perhaps if we see the difference between the direction we are headed (looking at the long term consequence and destination of our current path) we can assess if it's really the direction we want to be headed. If not, it's time to change course.

decision: (1) choice -- to make up one's mind in a clear and definite way, (2) the process of coming to a conclusion or determination

Changing course is a decision. At some point, it may be important to take control of our lives and make decisions which are in our mutual best interest and have some chance of actually obtaining what is really important in life.

Once we draw that directional line from where we are in the direction we want to go, we have to decide if we are actually going to do what we know is right. This takes more courage than people think. Often deciding to do the right thing goes against what we have been taught in our families and society. Instead of fitting in, we may just stand out and be seen as a trouble maker and a whistle blower. It would seem that though everyone wants to be healthy, happy, and successful, very few have actually decided to live and love in that direction.

Watch the people on the dojo mat the next time you train. How many people (student or shihan) train with any decisiveness? How many train as if they have decided to be successful, to get it? Many have decided to be there, but they have not necessarily decided to train. Many have decided to train, but to train in what they have always done, not what will lead to further improvements. Many have decided that they already have it and do not look past it. What statement are you making to yourself and others when you show up, dress out, and bow onto the mat? Do you decisively train?

Do you decisively live? Do you decisively love? How do you decide to live? How do you decide to love? Do you unconsciously decide according to the automatic pilot you have learned from others? Did it work for the people who modeled and taught it to you? If we are to live and we are to love, perhaps we could be more successful if we did so mindfully and decisively.

Don't decide to get a black belt in Aikido; decide to keep improving your Aikido. Don't decide to get healthy; decide to be and stay healthy. Don't decide to find love; decide to be loving.

discipline: (1) training to ensure proper behavior, (2) order and control, (3) calm controlled behavior, (4) conscious control over lifestyle, (5) activity or subject, (6) punishment, (7) doing something regularly, (8) teaching, (9) obeying strict rules controlling activity or situation, (10) regulation

Now that we know the direction we are going to travel, and have decided to travel it, we have to get up every day and walk in that direction. Many people know what they want and actually know what it takes to get it, and perhaps they have decided they really do want it but have yet to decide if they want to put in the daily discipline and work it takes to get there.

The daily discipline takes more courage than just being decisive because now you have to walk the talk and actually operationalize all those abstract generalizations into concrete behavior. Now you have to live everyday in the direction you have decided to travel.

After work we decide to drive in the direction of the dojo, leave our day's stress at the door, and train. Early in the morning we decide to drive in the direction of the dojo in the dark when others are still in bed and train. We decide to train mindfully and joyously.

In life we decide to get up and go to work. We decide to do a good job because that's who we are. That was our agreement in taking the job and collecting the pay check.

I love we decide to love completely. We love not just part of the person or the role we play, but we decide to love the whole person everyday in every role we play.

The daily discipline is to bring our minds and hearts back to the direction we have decided to travel.

Breathe in, defined direction
Breathe out, definite decision
deliberate determined daily discipline

Thanks for listening, for the opportunity to be of service, and for sharing the journey. From me and mine to you and yours; have a safe, healthy, and happy holiday. Now get back to training. KWATZ!

Lynn Seiser (b. 1950 Pontiac, Michigan), Ph.D. has been a perpetual student of martial arts, CQC/H2H, FMA/JKD, and other fighting systems for over 40 years. He currently holds the rank of Yondan (4th degree black belt) from Sensei Andrew Sato of the Aikido World Alliance and Sandan (3rd degree Black Belt) from Sensei Dang Thong Phong of the International Tenshinkai Aikido Federation. He is the co-author of three books on Aikido (with Phong Sensei) and his martial art articles have appeared in Black Belt Magazine, Aikido Today Magazine, and Martial Arts and Combat Sports Magazine. He is the founder of Aiki-Solutions and IdentityTherapy and is an internationally respected psychotherapist in the clinical treatment of offenders, victims, and families of violence, trauma, abuse, and addiction. He is a professor of clinical and forensic psychology with an expertise in family violence and treatment. He currently lives in Marietta, GA and trains and teaches at Kyushinkan Dojo, Roswell Budokan.
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Old 01-17-2012, 12:59 PM   #2
graham christian
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Re: D: Direction, Decision, and Discipline

Nicely put Lynn.

I have a similar 'question' I ask students, or anyone for that matter. I ask 'Do you do it or do you live it?'

Those who do something complain and blame, those who live it love it.

Regards.G.
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Old 01-18-2012, 04:22 AM   #3
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Re: D: Direction, Decision, and Discipline

Quote:
Graham Christian wrote: View Post
I ask 'Do you do it or do you live it?'
Yes agreed.

Walk to talk.

I often think that when I can feel myself doing the technique, I am probably doing it wrong. When I don't feel it, but let the other person fall, I jut might be headed in the right direction.

When they feel me doing the technique, I am doing/making it happen, its probably wrong. When they fall down and just wonder what happened, I just might be headed in the right direction.

Less is more.

Thanks for reading and responding.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 01-18-2012, 02:27 PM   #4
crbateman
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Re: D: Direction, Decision, and Discipline

Good stuff, Lynn-san...

Some things are better done for you than done yourself. Aikido is definitely NOT one of those things.

Thanks for sharing!
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Old 01-18-2012, 09:52 PM   #5
jurasketu
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Re: D: Direction, Decision, and Discipline

I once had executive ask me why my software engineering team was able to regularly produce working software, on schedule with few errors or problems. He was disappointed with my answer: "Talent and Discipline." I think he was hoping we were using some magic technique or process that we could easily show to other teams in the company.

But Lynn Sensei makes me think about that in another way - Direction and Decision are really the Talent part of that equation. I've met many folks that knew the Direction but couldn't do the Decision bit (nevermind the Discipline part). And vice-versa. You really need all three aspects to be properly successful. Doesn't guarantee success - but I think it is definitely foundational. And so darned deceptively simple.

All paths lead to death. I strongly recommend taking one of the scenic routes.
AWA - Shodan - Started Aikido training in 2008
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Old 01-19-2012, 10:19 AM   #6
Janet L.
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Re: D: Direction, Decision, and Discipline

You know, when I started Aikido, I had two reactions:

1. "When did I stop being a klutz?" and
2. "Y'know, if I keep at this long enough I might actually get good at it!"

That's despite being more sore than I had been in years.

Well, I've been at it the better part of a year now, and I see Aikido's influence spreading throughout my life, and I'm now practicing for the fifth kyu test (Ki-Aikido ranks start with fifth kyu.)

I know that's pretty slow by some standards, but as an ex-klutz it seems pretty good to me, particularly since my best friend has been at it for four years and will be testing in the same session. . .

What does this have to do with Lynn's article? My Aikido experience has been about process, not goals. Indeed a lot of my life has been about the journey, not the destination, and my Aikido experience fits in with that nicely.
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Old 01-19-2012, 02:04 PM   #7
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Re: D: Direction, Decision, and Discipline

Quote:
Clark Bateman wrote: View Post
Some things are better done for you than done yourself. Aikido is definitely NOT one of those things.
Yes agreed my friend.

Like karma, only you can change it.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 01-19-2012, 02:06 PM   #8
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Re: D: Direction, Decision, and Discipline

Quote:
Robin Johnson wrote: View Post
Direction and Decision are really the Talent part of that equation. I've met many folks that knew the Direction but couldn't do the Decision bit (nevermind the Discipline part). And vice-versa. You really need all three aspects to be properly successful.
Yes agreed Kohai.

We all know the right things to do.

The discipline is to get up everyday and do it.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 01-19-2012, 02:08 PM   #9
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Re: D: Direction, Decision, and Discipline

Quote:
Janet Lowther wrote: View Post
My Aikido experience has been about process, not goals. Indeed a lot of my life has been about the journey, not the destination, and my Aikido experience fits in with that nicely.
Yes agreed.

Notice I did not say destination.

Only only a direction that we walk towards through daily discipline.

ANd one day, in another life, I may get over being that klutz and being almost good at this.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 02-10-2012, 12:45 PM   #10
R.A. Robertson
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Re: D: Direction, Decision, and Discipline

Too many very good points expressed far too well for me to summarize here.

The Tao Te Ching speaks of a kind of aimlessness as appropriate. But I think it's a very particular kind of mindful aimlessness, much like the quality of wandering referenced in the famous Tolkien quote.

We follow a path. The path has outcomes. We expect a path to take us somewhere, either toward destinations or through way-stations. There's nothing wrong with destinations or goals, and I get tired of hearing people say that it's the journey and not the destination. At the same time, while travelers may have a goal, the path does not.

There's something to be said for being both traveler and path. I believe your article speaks to this very nicely.
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Old 02-11-2012, 04:35 AM   #11
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Re: D: Direction, Decision, and Discipline

Quote:
Ross Robertson wrote: View Post
The Tao Te Ching speaks of a kind of aimlessness as appropriate. But I think it's a very particular kind of mindful aimlessness, much like the quality of wandering referenced in the famous Tolkien quote.
Osu,

Yes, Taoism speaks of the natural aimless path and its journey.

(I have read, reread, contemplated, and discussed the Tao Te Ching.)

IMHO, western society is so far from natural (and so socialized) that natural begins to lose its meaning. Our minds are so unconsciously conditions that the let go of control initially would be like putting a heat seeking missile on target acquisition and firing it.

Perhaps we need to contemplate and transform that auto-pilot before we get out of the way and let it fly.

There is a big difference in the brain-dead gate-less aim-less path of ignorance and the mindful attention to the journey as a process adventure and discovery.

Thanks for reading and responding.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 02-11-2012, 09:31 PM   #12
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Re: D: Direction, Decision, and Discipline

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote: View Post
IMHO, western society is so far from natural (and so socialized) that natural begins to lose its meaning.
I'm not sure I see why a the effects of human lives are any less "natural" than the effects of the lives of any other animal...

And despite protestations by Japanese about how important "nature" is in Japanese society, the average Japanese person lives much further away from what we normally consider nature than the average American, IMO.

Best,

Chris

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Old 02-12-2012, 06:43 AM   #13
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Re: D: Direction, Decision, and Discipline

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Christopher Li wrote: View Post
I'm not sure I see why a the effects of human lives are any less "natural" than the effects of the lives of any other animal...And despite protestations by Japanese about how important "nature" is in Japanese society, the average Japanese person lives much further away from what we normally consider nature than the average American, IMO.
IMHO, we have lived so far from nature that we are more socialized normal. Feeling natural often means just feeling familiar and habituated.

While nature sounds good, I personally don't see many people actually making a decision to walk in that direction on a daily basis. Do you?

Thanks for reading and responding.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 02-12-2012, 09:43 AM   #14
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Re: D: Direction, Decision, and Discipline

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote: View Post
IMHO, we have lived so far from nature that we are more socialized normal. Feeling natural often means just feeling familiar and habituated.

While nature sounds good, I personally don't see many people actually making a decision to walk in that direction on a daily basis. Do you?
What I'm asking is why an airplane or any other product of human living is less natural than anything else? Is a beaver dam "natural"?

I guess that I'm asking for a clearer definition of "nature".

Best,

Chris

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Old 02-12-2012, 02:42 PM   #15
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Re: D: Direction, Decision, and Discipline

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I guess that I'm asking for a clearer definition of "nature".
IMHO, if its planned, manufactured, or learned, I don't consider it "natural".

Perhaps I am a bit literal because I have worked with too many predators who hide behind excuses of human "nature"?

The human mind is far too unconsciously programmed and socialized (often over generations) for me personally or professionally to consider it "natural" but rather learned. Much of what I see people calling "natural" is only "normal" for them due to habituation.

Clearer?

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 02-12-2012, 04:11 PM   #16
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Re: D: Direction, Decision, and Discipline

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote: View Post
IMHO, if its planned, manufactured, or learned, I don't consider it "natural".

Perhaps I am a bit literal because I have worked with too many predators who hide behind excuses of human "nature"?

The human mind is far too unconsciously programmed and socialized (often over generations) for me personally or professionally to consider it "natural" but rather learned. Much of what I see people calling "natural" is only "normal" for them due to habituation.

Clearer?
Yes, but animals in the wild also manufacture what are sometimes quite complex structures, and they learn through experience as well. Is that natural or not? What I'm saying is that learning and habituation is itself a natural process.

If you're saying that we should avoid habituation (ala Zen, or something similar), then that's another thing, but something like that is also a learned and trained process, so how would it be more "natural" than the other?

Best,

Chris

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Old 02-13-2012, 12:25 PM   #17
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Re: D: Direction, Decision, and Discipline

Quote:
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Yes, but animals in the wild also manufacture what are sometimes quite complex structures, and they learn through experience as well. Is that natural or not? What I'm saying is that learning and habituation is itself a natural process. If you're saying that we should avoid habituation (ala Zen, or something similar), then that's another thing, but something like that is also a learned and trained process, so how would it be more "natural" than the other?
Perhaps we are working with different definitions of natural?

Perhaps mine is useful to me and yours is useful to you.

Not right or wrong, just different.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 02-13-2012, 12:42 PM   #18
R.A. Robertson
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Re: D: Direction, Decision, and Discipline

Years ago I got tired of seeing the "human" and the "natural" depicted as a dichotomy. Instead of contrasting the human and the natural, I coined the terms "anthropogenic" and "non-anthropogenic," as a way of speaking of things that are, or are not, of human origin without the necessity of implying that these are somehow less natural than anything else.

I have since seen the terms used elsewhere, and since I very much doubt they got it from me, it seems that others have had similar ideas.

On a related note, my fencing (Western) coach made the distinction between what is instinctive and what is natural. He argued that not everything instinctive is automatically the most natural. In this context, I believe he was using the term "natural" to mean "effortlessly optimal" rather than "arising from organic or natural causes." In any case, I have found this distinction enormously helpful.

Good discussion.

RA
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Old 02-13-2012, 03:15 PM   #19
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Re: D: Direction, Decision, and Discipline

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In any case, I have found this distinction enormously helpful. Good discussion.
Yes agreed.

Discussion and distinctions are very good.

I remember when I started Aikido. I was told to move "naturally". After years in FMA, the way I was moving was "natural" for me. But that wasn't my "natural" way of moving before I studied FMA. And FMA said that the way I "naturally" moved when I started wasn't "natural" either because it had been patterned by other bashing arts.

I finally accepted that "natural" had a referential index: "natural" according to who or in what context?

Same way with people's thought and behavior. Its"natural" for them, but not "natural" for some one else raise by different people in a different context.

So I started to separate "natural" from "normal".

As a Zen Koan, what was my "natural" face before my "normal" face?

Is my "social" self different from my "natural" self? Since I have never been raised in nature, everything I think I am came from the family/social context I was raised in. And when I look for a "natural" self before the "social" self, I find no one, no self.

As one of my training mates said after reading a couple of my columns, he was just glad he didn't have to live inside me head. LOL

Thanks for reading and responding. I get a lot out of these AikiWeb discussions.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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