A friend shared this story recently and it resonated with me on a deep level.
A young man and his father both studied martial arts. The father was a Black Belt instructor/trainer, which is a significant level of achievement. His son was an up and coming martial arts practitioner as well, and as young men often do, he began to feel his power.
At age 16, the son began to taunt his father, telling him that it was HIS time, and that he (the father) was moving past his prime. If you’ve ever had a teen-aged son, this behavior may sound familiar 🙂
The father finally gave in, and said: “2pm on Sunday, in the back yard – I will teach you a lesson“.
The son was PUMPED because he just knew that it was time to show his father who was boss – at least as it came to martial arts skill and strength.
Sunday came, and the son prepared for what he was certain would be a colossal smack down of “the old man”.
At 2pm he went out into the yard, stretching – getting ready for the match.
2:05 – 2:10 – 2:15 – 2:30 and no sign of his father.
He went in the house and called his father, who answered his cell phone. He was actually several hours away at a pre-planned conference that had been on his calendar for many months (in other words, when the father set the 2pm Sunday time, he knew he would not be around).
When the father got home later that night, his son was upset.
“I thought you were going to teach me a lesson! Why did you blow me off!?” the son asked in frustration.
“I told you that I would teach you a lesson, and I did,” the father explained. “In martial arts, when you have the opportunity to avoid a conflict, do so.”
This is good advice for life outside of the martial arts.
How often are we “invited” into conflict at work, in our families or in our social circles? It usually does not take the form of an official fight with date and time, but shows up as disagreements, irritations and opposition.
Most of the time, we willingly show up, and either engage actively or smile and employ passive aggressive techniques. Sometimes we decide to go deep and plot our enemy’s demise from a covert position so to gain the advantage with a surprise attack. Regardless of the approach, it’s a zero-sum-game if a peaceful life is our goal.
When we master walking away, we become a Black Belt in life.
I’ve often heard that “living well is the best revenge“. Living well – and learning how to walk away – is also the best gift we can give ourselves across a lifetime.
(C) Practitioner's Path 2017