Living your values

How small things can be an inspiration!

Last weekend I attended an aikido seminar. It was at a beautiful place near Lake Tahoe in California. The seminar was led by two senseis (teachers, ‘the ones that went before’): Richard Strozzi Heckler, who I already knew and had trained with, and Linda Holiday. I had heard much about her but hadn’t had the chance to train with her. Her aikido was a pleasure to me and her inspiring appearance made it easy to buy the book she wrote on the life of her Japanese sensei, Anno sensei.

This week I started reading her book. Anno sensei was a direct students of O’sensei, and studied with him for many years. The book reveals a lot about the life of O’sensei, the development of aikido, and Anno sensei’s path into aikido. To hear the story told through Anno sensei’s experience is touching and sweet.


This morning one particular part in the book touched me and stressed to me, again, the importance of having values to live by and a path to put them into practice.

Before I will deepen that thought I would like to quote the words of Anno sensei:

“One day, O’sensei said to me, ’You are a fine young man because you are sunao (sincere; open-hearted).’ “It felt wonderful to be called sunao by O’sensei,” remembers Anno sensei. “Although I didn’t think I merited the compliment, I resolved then and there to become sunao, and to be sunao forever, and to treasure the words of O’sensei to the end of my days.”

The power of image

What stands out for me in these words is the power of the image O’sensei gave Anno sensei by giving him a value that could be put into action. Anno sensei recognized that he had to take other actions to, in his eyes, be sunao.
As I work on the values that are important to me I have the same experience that Anno sensei had. By writing my values down, I discovered a discrepancy between what I thought the values should look like and my daily actions.

As for Anno sensei, for me being aware of who or what I would like to embody gave me a direction to practice. I can deliberately work on actions that can make my values visible to the world. It helps me to keep me on the path I want to walk, even when it is challenging or discouraging at times. And it is great when you have, like Anno sensei, teachers that can help you to envision your path, and help you to stay on it.

Great teachers

Anno sensei reports:

“O’sensei gave me important words to live by, and I have never forgotten them. When I’ve gotten discouraged in aikido, I’ve called upon those words, and resolve to continue to train myself, and become the sincere and open-hearted person that O’sensei thought I was. Great teacher leave their students with positive and inspiring words, and those words teach us for as long as we live.”

To become who you want to be is a lifelong practice, but as I experience it, a very rewarding way to live life. And my humble hope is to be able to, one day be, one of those teachers Anno sensei is talking about.

*The inspiration and quotes come from ‘Journey to the heart of aikido‘ the book of Linda Holiday sensei on the teachings of Motomichi Anno sensei. A good read for everyone interested in aikido and finding purpose in life.

Karin KarisKarin Karis zet mensen duurzaam in beweging.
Haar insteek: van je hoofd naar je lijf!

Karin is expert op het gebied van embodied leadership. Leren waarbij je lijf de essentie is. Zij gelooft dat leiderschap ontstaat door bewust en actief richting te geven en verantwoordelijkheid te nemen voor de keuzes die jij in je leven maakt.

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