As educational leaders we often encounter people who are not aligned with our vision. They can surprise us by the tenacity of their negative energy. They have already “been there and done that” and know, that whatever we’re trying to do; it will never work. They see few possibilities and are mired in their “victimhood”. They see every place in the organization where things are not working and, for them, this confirms their negative outlook on their jobs, and in many cases, their lives.
In Aikido we learn to use the energy of the attacker to create a reasonable outcome. (Attacker on the mat, neutralized; but not injured.) We do not fight or resist the energy but rather “step into it”.
All these negatives create an energy that can be used in a positive way.
Someone I know came to me with a major complaint about something that wasn’t working right in our organization. At first I took it personally and immediately felt defensive. I was going to fight back and offer resistance to the energy; but I remembered my training. I stepped into the negative energy and asked if they would be interested in being in charge of fixing the problem. He was shocked. He hadn’t expected this and without hesitation, said, “Yes”.
Suddenly, his energy shifted from attacking to creating.
As leaders, it is good to recognize that passionate energy, whether positive or negative, can be used to help us realize our vision.