I often talk to my clients about training partners. Training partners are the people who challenge us. The ones who you find yourself avoiding. The ones who you love to make wrong and find yourself frustrated and angry with. They come in the form of bosses, co-workers, clients, employees, friends and lovers.
A training partner, though, is the person who makes you better. They challenge you to become more compassionate and more skilled at working effectively with a wider range of people.
For me, I live with my training partner, my daughter. I adore her. She is strong, determined and fierce. She is also extremely sensitive. When she gets nervous, scared or insecure she starts yelling at me.
This morning, we were walking out to go to her first volleyball practice of the year. She couldn’t find her vollyball shorts and started yelling at me to help her find them. Then she started yelling at me to put her sweatshirt back in the drawer that it belongs. My instinct is to yell back. The thing is, yelling back at her only makes the situation worse. My yelling back would be like pouring gasoline on a fire.
I am not condoning her behavior. I know at this moment in time, the only thing is to get her out the door to vollyball. How can I do this and help her feel calm? By feeling calm myself. Do you know how hard it is to be calm when someone you are with is freaked out and yelling at you?
Yet this is what my Aikido practice is teaching; to remain calm, open and connected when someone is attacking me. The founder of Aikido discovered people only attack when they feel threatened, hurt or scared. The job of an Aikidoist is to take care of yourself and the other person while you are being attacked so that the attacker calms down. Great idea in concept, difficult to do in reality.
My training partner, my daughter, is teaching me how to be calm when someone is freaked out. She is teaching me to look beyond the anger and see how scared she is. She is teaching me to manage my own emotions and stay in check. She is teaching me how to tell a different story rather than calling her mean names. She is teaching me how to walk away when I know that I cannot be effective, and wait to engage until I am calm.
Because of her, I find other people in my life easy to work with. By learning to be present to all of my immediate reactions and choose calm, I am able to move with others so much easier.
If you have a training partner and would like to find the gifts in the relationship, please feel free to call. I love the conversation around training partners.