I recognize that I’ve been a little quiet as of late. I could blame the holiday season, which is partially true, but there have been a number of new changes to my daily routine, and it has taken me a few
weeks to adjust.
Perhaps the most significant change is in regards to my occupation.
You see, last week I had the opportunity to start a new job at Microsoft. Now, under normal circumstances this wouldn’t have anything to do with aikido. But take a moment and do a few searches on the Microsoft interview experience, and you’ll find many blogs, articles, and so on about how grueling “the loop” can be. And indeed, the experience was one of the more intense ones I’ve encountered.
Like any company that finds itself in the enviable position of being successful and on the cutting edge (and whatever your opinion may be of the company, it is hard to deny that it does hold this position), Microsoft has been forced to really analyze potential employees. The result is a long, challenging interview process. At each step of the way, a candidate can expect to have his or her positions and opinions challenged. They do this on purpose–they want to see how you
react under pressure. In addition, they keep you guessing as to how many people you will interview with that day–so you never know if you are going to meet with four people, five people, or ten people. The result is a day where it is very easy to second-guess what your interviewers are thinking.
And it is here that we finally return to Aikido. Throughout my own interview experience, I found that the skills I have honed on the mat proved invaluable. Rather than respond to each challenge from a position of fear or aggression–which apparently are typical–I did my best to respond from a position of calmness. This proved extremely valuable when I was asked questions to whch I didn’t know the answer, in part because I was unafraid to tell them so, but also in part
because I was unafraid to try and find the answer–even if it meant I would find the wrong answer (which, in at least one case, I did). I found that I also was unconcerned about how long the interview process went, or what was going to happen next. My training, in this case, really allowed me to relax and take each moment as it came. The result was apparently very positive–I heard back within a week that they wanted to extend me an offer.
We talk so often about taking our skills off the mat. And, in the case of those of us who study aikido, we are often challenged regarding how our strategies apply in non-physical confrontations. This experience I’ve shared is just one example of how calmness and focus on the mat can lead to success off the mat. If you have a similar experience of
your own, I hope you’ll share it.