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One meeting, once chance … lost.

January 11, 2010

The 6th of January 2010 will be a day marked in my diary for years to come. It was a day where I lost the chance to tell someone just how much of an impact they had on my life and how grateful I was for the change that their life had created in mine.

If the truth be told, I probably lost the chance sometime back in August when I didn’t finish the letter that I had started writing. I thought that I was getting better at doing those things I always meant to but never started. I suppose I have taken a step forward… now I start but don’t get around to finishing.

You see, George Leonard passed away Tuesday, January 6, at his home in Mill Valley, California.  He was 86.

A veteran of WWII and the Korean War, he was an editor and wrote extensively for Look Magazine and won many awards and admirers for his writings on the Civil Rights movement in the USA.  He remains the most prolific writer ever for Esquire Magazine.  His twelve major books  include “Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment“, “The Ultimate Athlete“, “The Silent Pulse: A Search for the Perfect Rhythm that Exists in Each of Us“, “Education and Ecstasy“, “The Transformation“, “Way of Aikido, The: Life Lessons from an American Sensei
” and “Walking on the Edge of the World“.

George Leonard took up Aikido at age 47 and he went on to attain the rank of 5th degree black belt. (That in itself is my inspiration when I think that at 40 I might be too old to attempt my brown belt!) On an afternoon in 1977 as he walked from his home to his dojo, George Leonard created the Samurai Game – http://www.SamuraiGame.org.   Since then the Game has directly affected the lives of hundreds of thousands of people around the world, and indirectly touched millions with lessons of effective leadership and team work.

I am one of those people.

I first experienced the Game in a dojo in Grass Valley, California in May last year. Lance Giroux led the Game and it was for me a profound and moving experience. Like the very best Aikido technique it was powerful and respectful of who I was and where I was in my life’s journey. It took my energy and led me gently to a place where I feel I have become much more aware of the preciousness of life and the futility of conflict. I remember saying to Lance just before we parted at the airport in Sacramento “I knew it would be good but I never thought it would be that good!”

Since then I have been blessed with the opportunity to share the perceptions of the participants of four such events and on occasion to sit and discuss with them (and in some cases their partners) how the experience of the Game that George Leonard developed has changed the way they live their lives. It has brought a richness and an authenticity to my life, and theirs, that is difficult to express in words.

As someone who has been entrusted with the responsibility of delivering the Game in the spirit that it was conceived, I find that it continues to provide me with insights into who I am and how I can be (to borrow a phrase) the change I want to see in the world.

I had the chance to thank George for all of that but I didn’t, and looking back I am not even sure why.

Lance told me that he believed that George would smile and say “That is the way the Game is played, so no regrets needed!” Ok, but I will learn from the experience and (to steal from Churchill again) get better at not just doing my best, but at doing what is necessary and doing it now.

Thanks George –  your life has changed me for the better and for good. I will always feel you in the silent pulse.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. January 25, 2010 3:08 am

    Paul, you did thank him, silently by the actions you took.
    George felt the silent pulse.

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