Many years ago, I used to study martial arts. Contrary to popular belief, I didn’t learn how to ‘sweep’ or kick the crap out of other people. Go figure.
But I did learn a lot about philosophy. Pretty much everything you do in the martial arts relates to some real world activity, one way or another. Thinking about it now, it’s really the other way around…that any given circumstance can be applied to any other circumstance, especially when viewed wholly in the abstract. But I digress.
One of the most memorable parallels I learned about was in a sparring class [for those not cool enough to know what that is, it’s basically an exercise when 1 student faces off against 1 or more students to fight. The point is to exercise just enough control to not hurt each other, while understanding how to practically apply your learnings]. Our instructor would often break up the drill and give corrective advice to refine our technique as well as teach us strategy. In one particular explanation, he kept banging his fists together while explaining that when two aggressors meet head to head, only the strongest one wins. Imagine the graphic above. What happens when pure energy collides with pure energy? Well, for one, you get an explosion. But second, you usually get a world of hurt too! Not fun.
Instead, the instructor would advise, when you see someone coming straight for you, change your strategy…take a step back, pivot and catch them off guard. Or better yet, redirect to a new angle and attack them from the side. Of course there are other options too.
The point is though, that you can rarely meet aggression with aggression. There’s a lot of practical applications to this life lesson, at least ones that I’ve been able to use:
- Negotiating with your boss – change your strategy when trying to get a job…if you can’t get the salary you want, go for a title bump!
- In an argument with a friend – meet them half way or at least acknowledge their point of view.
- When convincing someone of your point of view – show them multiple ways of looking at your argument so that it resonates with something they care about.
- In a disagreement with your spouse – give in. 🙂
I’d love to hear if you find value in this lesson and some examples in the comments.