Can there be more than one warrior in the room at the same time? This question came up recently in a conversation with a dear friend and colleague – what happens when two “warriors” show up at the same time? Who gets to be the dominant one? And this question got me thinking about what the modern day warrior is up to.
Classically, a warrior is defined as one who has courage and skill to fight battles, but the definition I’m most inspired by is from Buddhism which defines a spiritual warrior as one who combats the universal enemy: self-ignorance, the ultimate source of suffering according to Buddhist philosophy. Further, “the sacred warrior conquers the world not through violence or aggression, but through gentleness, courage, and self-knowledge. The warrior discovers the basic goodness of human life and radiates that goodness out into the world for the peace and sanity of others,” according to the Shambhala tradition.
It seems to me that there is a paradigm shift available here. If the warrior reacts to threats that jeopardize his or the tribe’s safety, then multiple warriors may fight for the dominant role in order to claim the victory - or back off so as not to take responsibility for losing the battle. But, if the warrior focuses on the desired outcome rather than the threats then she may welcome others in the battle along side her. And if the universal enemy is self-ignorance then I'd want the help of as many people as I could get - in fact I believe I need the perspective of others to conquer it. Perhaps part of that ignorance is the belief that one warrior is enough to get the job done.
Today’s battle grounds may not involve life or death - they may be as harmless as getting kids to their soccer games on time or as harmful as ignorantly gossiping about co-workers around the water cooler. I think there is a vital opportunity to upgrade the role of the modern-day warrior. Where the fighting warrior uses situations to gain advantage or retreat, the mindful warrior uses challenges as opportunities to build collaboration and gather buy-in to a purposeful vision. It’s still a battle but the end result and the means of getting there are different.
Which kind of warrior are you?