Finding Grace Under Pressure


"Serenity is not finding freedom from the storm, but peace within it." 


It took me a while to realize what I was looking for. Although I could feel something deep inside of me gently guiding my path. It wasn't clear. It was easily lost. Subtle. Delicate, yet deeply powerful. You might miss it if you didn't know what you were looking for. Or if you didn't know what you were seeing. Underneath my search for many things in life, even for the experience of feeling alive. I was looking for something inside of my self that allowed me to become a person who embodied Grace Under Pressure. 

It's difficult enough to find serenity on the top of a mountain. Being peaceful when everything is calm can be challenging enough, however being the eye of the storm when everything around you is chaotic takes you to a whole new level. A PeaceWalker. Someone who has Grace Under Pressure during conflict. 

I first sensed this as a kid when my brother would bully and hurt me. After years of martial arts training when I finally gained the confidence and skill to stand up to him, I felt this Grace Under Pressure for that brief moment in time. 

Although I didn't really realize it at the time, that was what was so intoxicating. That sense of power, serenity & Grace during that conflict. 

Later after cutting through much of the static we all sometimes feel, I clarified and sought out three things in life that have immeasurably helped me:

1) The Experience of Feeling Alive.

2) Embodying Grace Under Pressure.

3) Embracing an Ethical Protector Ethos.

At first I didn't know what exactly I was looking for. For me it began with practicing martial arts,  I wanted to feel empowered. I didn't want to be bullied. I didn't want to feel like a victim. I was looking to feel comfortable, confident & empowered in dynamic and stressful situations. 

As time went on I realized that I liked learning how to handle situations more effectively during stress & conflict. This pursuit drew me to the enjoyment of testing my limits in everything from extreme sports like dirt bike riding, martial arts & combat sports, rock climbing, white water rafting, bungee jumping, sky diving, snow boarding, flying and zip lining to adventure travel and pursuing my life and career dreams: Entrepreneurship, executive protection, corporate sales, protective services, writing & teaching have all been part of this journey. 

I think that we all see this Grace Under Pressure when we watch someone who is Really Good at what they do. Watch Michael Jordan play basketball, Rickson Gracie grapple, Dali Lama show compassion, Donald Trump cut a business deal, Berry Sanders play football or Laird Hamilton surf. Listen to Jimi Hendrix play guitar, Bernard Purdie play drums, Frank Sinatra sing or the rock power trio Rush perform. They all exude a sense of Grace Under Pressure.

But you don't just look to famous sports or other celebrities to see this quality. We see it everyday with folks we know who are good at what they do in regular life: The mother of four who handles her children with firm, yet caring grace; a professional sales person who is authentic, helpful and ethical during a tough negotiation, a police officer who handles a dangerous situation as an ethical protector, a young marine thousands of miles away from home putting his life on the line under fire and making decisions as a ethical warrior, a teacher dealing with a troubled kid in a firm, direct, yet caring way. The list goes on and on.

It reminds me of a quote from a North Dakota State Trooper:

"We treat people like ladies and gentlemen not because they always act that way, but because we always do."

I can remember at various times in my life experiencing someone who acted authentically, treated others with dignity & respect and handled tough situations with grace and saying to myself, "I want to be like that." It just felt better to me.

It took me decades to be able to clarify and articulate this idea of Grace Under Pressure in my career and life. And I'm not saying I'm perfect, but now I have more clarity and know the formula. And that's what I enjoy practicing and sharing with others. ...But more on that later.

Keep going.



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