Allen Baird PhD
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Allen Baird PhD

Partner at Sensei
Allen Baird PhD is a trainer, writer and speaker from Northern Ireland. Professional influences? The work of Martin Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Personal influences? Joseph Campbell and Nietzsche. Favourite business type books? Anything by Daniel Pink or Robert Greene. Major dislikes? Name dropping.
Allen Baird PhD
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shaolin_kung_fu

I’ve been thinking about the Jedi again, and how they are a mythical type of the warrior-monk.  Different cultures have expressed this type throughout the centuries: the Sohei warriors of ancient Japan, the Knights Templar, perhaps the Islamic Assassins, and definitely the Shaolin monks of Kung-Fu fame.

There is something attractive to me about this combination of seeming opposites.  The war-maker and the peace-keeper.  The ‘this-worldly’ and the ‘other-worldly’.  Aristotle contrasted the ‘contemplative life’ with the ‘active life’, arguing in favour of the former; Aquinas followed his lead.  Those in the Roman Catholic tradition make a similar contrast between the interior life and the exterior.

From the personal development viewpoint, there’s something very familiar to me in all this.  There are many such contrasts that need to be overcome in order to achieve something higher.

  • Assertiveness Training – contrast between passive and aggressive (unified by assertiveness)
  • Emotional Intelligence – contrast between self-smart and social-smart (unified by empathy)
  • Transactional Analysis – contrast between child ego state and parent ego state (unified by the adult ego state)
  • Stress Management – contrast between hypostress/‘boreout’ and hyperstress/’burnout’ (unified by eustress/flow)
  • Negotiation Strategy – contrast between win-lose and lose-win (unified by win-win scenarios)
  • Problem-Solving – contrast between left-brain and right-brain (unified by whole-brain thinking)
  • Skills Training – contrast between soft-skills/’high touch’ and hard-skills/’high tech (unified by high concept)

You get the drift.

Anyway, back to the Jedi.  I came across a powerful passage in the Hagakure – that book most beloved of all real-life, wannabe Jedi – that speaks to this matter.  I paraphrase it here:

“A monk cannot fulfill the Way if he does not manifest compassion without and persistently store up courage within. And if a warrior does not manifest courage on the outside and hold enough compassion within his heart to burst his chest, he cannot become a samurai. Therefore, the monk pursues courage with the warrior as his model, and the warrior pursues the compassion of the monk.”

A Jedi, then, is someone who seeks to live a life of compassion and courage – what we might today call empathy and resilience – in equal measure.  Whether these two are brought together by balance or some other form of integration – such as perspectivism, as in “your focus determins your reality” – is something I don’t yet know.

I’ll be touching on some of this stuff – especially assertiveness and flow – in the forthcoming Jedi Knight Training Event in Belfast.

Image credit: kevinpoh.