Something spooked the gunman. He spun back around at me in the midst of his retreat with a sense of urgency. He again raised the pistol – leveling it at my chest from no more than 30 feet away.
And then…nothing…nothing happened.
The gunman turned the pistol slightly in his grip and looked puzzled, as if something was wrong. It appeared as though the pistol had misfired. He looked back at me. I raised my palms slowly at him to signal that I wouldn’t pursue him. The last thing I wanted was for him to have a powerful impetus to get that pistol working.
The getaway car was now in view, slowly trolling the path where the street met the parking lot. The gunman whirled back around and jogged to the vehicle. It was over. No one was hurt, but I was changed forever.
In the aftermath of this altercation, I would process a myriad of emotions, some festering into a kind of illness born of profound anger that had to be addressed. I was changing, morphing, even deteriorating to the point that I had to do something. I was experiencing, at a biological level, what some call Ignition. The deeply seeded need to belong. For me, I wanted to belong in the company of Krav Maga warriors so that this would never happen again. Period, end of story, no negotiation, no hesitation – never again.
The entire left side of my face came crashing down and smacked the floor with a resounding thud that still rings in my memory of that day – the day I began the long journey to reclaim my life and to eventually discover my unique, authentic purpose. It was at the end of “hour one, day one” when my face met the mated floor of the Krav Maga National Training Center in West Los Angeles, California. As the instructor called a cessation to the madness that had run on for more than 60 minutes, I collapsed – the left side of my face flattened on the mats below.
I had shown up out of shape and physically unprepared for what was happening and would continue to happen for seven straight days – up to 12 hours a day. My heart pounded through my temple as powerfully and as loud as the thud that my face had made when smacking the mats. I gasped for a breath, making an unnatural barking sound that surprised my ears.
As I lay motionless and exhausted from responding to the commands of the instructor-in-charge – who seemed like he harbored a genuine hatred of all twelve instructor-trainees – I knew I would likely die here. My heart was beating out of my chest, my arms and legs were swollen with blood due to the intensity of the training, and I had very little if any capacity to properly direct my motor skills. I tried to get up, but the muscles in my legs and arms simply wouldn’t respond.
It was at this moment, nearly broken on the floor, that I uttered these words to myself, “I’m going to die here, but I’m not going to quit.” With that unmoving commitment locked in, I drew a deep breath for the first time since the madness had started. And, without any thought, I found myself on my feet headed to my gear bag with what little precious time I had left before the madness started again. I was consumed by commitment. I was all in.
It was in this unfolding scene of my life that I discovered something very powerful. I had experienced and was drawing from a potent MO/OP – short for what I call my “Motive for Operating”. I had come face-to-face (or face-to-mat) with one of the most important principles of consistent high performance…
…With a powerful and deeply authentic MO/OP, anyone can consistently do what others see as impossible.
At the time, I had no idea where the unwavering strength of that MO/OP would take me. Over 20 years later, I realize I had been given a gift. I had glimpsed and subsequently lived out a powerful discovery. That discovery – created through a decidedly negative experience – would inform, guide, and support my vocation for decades to come. I would even discover my purpose through the path I was set upon through that negative experience.
To be more specific, I had found my way to the Krav Maga National Training Center after being robbed at gunpoint in the parking lot of a restaurant near downtown Houston, Texas. I was with two friends – one female and one male. The gunman held the pistol on me – leveled at my chest from approximately three feet away. He wanted our wallets and a purse, and although I had been extensively trained in JuJitsu and Gung-Fu (that’s Kung Fu to most people), I had no training to deal with this threat. I tried to remain calm.
The gunman demanded, “wallets, wallets, wallets…let’s make this quick.”
My intuition told me that the tone in his voice indicated he was willing to leave without violence.
I spoke, “Ok, I’m going to get you out of here really quick” – as I calmly withdrew my wallet from my back right pocket.
“The purse too.”
I reached for the purse from the woman who was standing behind me and to the right a bit. As I handed over both wallets and the purse, I whispered, “Run”!
With that, the gunman turned and began to jog to a waiting car that had driven up where the parking lot met the street.
As he moved away, something spooked him. He spin back at me, raised his pistol and…nothing. You know the rest of it.
I remember the aftermath of that robbery. I was caught in an emotional and mental web of competing feelings and thoughts – few of which were healthy or productive. I vowed this would never happen again. But, I didn’t know how. It was six months later when a friend showed me an article in Vanity Fair about Krav Maga. After reading the entire article, I knew that Krav Maga was the thing I had been seeking.
THE WAY FORWARD
Ironically, I count myself among the most blessed by my experience. Unlike so many others who are seeking to discover a purpose in life and more meaning in their daily walk, my path was virtually forced upon me. While the message in this article might be something like – “finding the silver lining in an otherwise dark cloud” – I hope you see something different.
The lesson here is simple. Everything you do, experience, and respond to can and should inform the discovery of your purpose.
In this, I remind us all…”seek and ye shall find.” For each of us, this means acting with intention – informed by the danger we all face with our unchanging personal status quo – and searching for more meaning in our lives through our own, personal reclamation.
In the end, we must have all avoided the tragedy of deep regret and instead lean headlong into a purpose-filled life – time well spent, full of meaning making and a joy only the clarity of self mastery and service can offer.
This week, please take some time to contemplate these issues. Again, I’m encouraging you to journal and capture whatever bubbles up. Consider these questions:
What is your MO-OP as you navigate life?
Is there alignment between what you do everyday and the overarching MO-OP of your existence?
No matter the answers, the mere discovery is powerful, so do this work.
As always…walk in peace & be at peace.