Let me say a bit about what “sensei” means and then how it is revelatory for me. senseiDirectly translated as “born before,” it implies one who teaches based on wisdom from age and experience. The drawings or kanji represent two images that can be described as a person leading a water buffalo around by a nose ring – symbolizing the sensitivity and experience to lead the most stubborn student in a skillful manner; and a flower growing from the earth – representing engagement in cultivating life through life-affirming practices. The most common translation is “teacher.”  I was reminded about the role of sensei in the just-released The Art of Somatic Coaching, by my teacher, Richard Strozzi-Heckler.

As I’ve wrestled with locating myself in the discourses of somatics, ontology, and leadership over the past several months, I believe I became disconnected from my core and my commitment to own and embody my self as Sensei. That was a hard sentence to write. For what it takes to be Sensei is standing in one’s wisdom and experience, being gentle and committed, and fostering growth and development with love. The internal voices get loud quickly. “All that? Not me. …” The power of a declaration is that it creates a future in language; it is not a description of what is so.

The model of integrity that I live by includes standing for something. What I stand for – that is, what I say that my life is about and for what I can unquestionably be counted on – as a declaration (to others and myself), as well as what I allow people to believe that I stand for, is a part of my word, my integrity.

So it creates that uncomfortable feeling in my belly, one of taking on something bigger than I know myself to be to declare that I am a commitment to Being Sensei.

Up next: Why Yoda is a role model.

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