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What I learned from dying 3 times

· Growth,death,learning

I didn’t know that there was a possibility of resurrection the first time I died and that gave me a profound opportunity to reflect on how cheaply, how stupidly I have given up on my life. You know how people ask if you are a glass half full or a glass half empty person? If you like, the summary of this article is that I learned that the glass is refillable. But first, let me explain how all this death came about.

The setup of “The Samurai Game”® is intense and I recommend you take any opportunity to experience it for yourself (see below for more details). What I should tell you is that when the facilitator suggested, given the certainty of death that afternoon, that there maybe things that I wanted to write to my loved ones, that the context became very real.

So I chose to eat lunch in a tiny old shophouse café in the central business district of Singapore for my last lunch, and there, shaking with emotions, I wrote undelivered letters to my wife, my son and my daughter. There was just an hour to complete what still feels like one of the most important tasks of my life but that time compression actually allowed me to write something distilled and exactly to the point. As I said, they are undelivered to this day, but should they be needed, they are right on what I wanted to say.

Then there came a haiku, this being a Samurai game, and here the task was to write in the 5-7-5 format required, the perfect articulation of how I have lived my life.

Death 1 – A lesson In Owning My Space

One of the very few rules of the game are that you are not allowed to say ‘please’ or ‘thank you’, and the simple consequence of breaking any rule, or losing any challenge is that you ‘die’, meaning that you lie down on the floor immediately and take no further part in the action. My opinion is that the game is so sublimely architected, it feels for each player as if each, sparse rule is specifically there to catch them, and this one caught me within just a few minutes of the opening.

What happened was that I was all the things I have worked hard to be: The elected leader, creative, decisive, action oriented. There is no need for me to be humble or grateful, this is the space I legitimately own and should fill without the need for permission or validation. But, as I received a warning from the facilitator for crossing the line with my creativity, and that he would not kill me this time, “thank you” came out of my mouth. As I lay, dead, on the floor, I had a long time to reflect on this most powerful lesson.

The lesson comes with me everyday, and most situations, and may well be a question of mastery for me, which means I will never cease to learn more and more for the rest of my life.

Death 2 – Die For The Sake Of What?

Coming back to life, thanks to the facilitator, I learned that my glass is refillable, that optimism or pessimism are my choices in the moment, but learning that I can refill any particular glass is important context.

So, I came roaring back to life, and found an opportunity to leap into being a role model leader by charging into battle fearlessly. However, this was not a battle that used my strengths or skills and the futility of so cheaply throwing away a life had me in tears of frustration and realization.

It was after this death that I particularly thought about the letters to my children, them being given that last message from me, alongside the news that I had died pretty pointlessly was the moment my eyes pricked with the heat of tears brought on by my own choices.

I was able on the cold of the floor to think hard about the mess I had left the new leader in, she would have been much better served by my being alive, fighting alongside her than dead for the sake of leading by example.

Death 3 – Peace, Quiet And Gratitude

The final lesson, the final death was a thing of utmost beauty. Finally, the words I have heard but never understood, sentiments such as I am not afraid of dying made sense, perfectly. This final death occurred for me in circumstances that demonstrated honor, rectitude and love, my life given in service of love and compassion and without limit or filter.

And so the lesson, that final lesson is that a good death follows a life well lived: go, live with purpose and live your life well.

The Samurai Game® is considered by many to be the most unique, intense and challenging leadership and team building experiential simulation available anywhere. Tens of thousands of individuals from around the world have participated in it, through organizational and corporate trainings & retreats, university and school leadership courses, and personal development programs.

The Samurai Game® was invented, written, and first performed in 1977 byGeorge Leonard, author, award-winning editor, musician, Aikido instructor and pioneer in the Human Potential movement. The Samurai Game® was copyrighted by George Leonard and is solely owned by The Leonard Family Trust. Roam this website to find more information about The Samurai Game®, answers to frequently asked questions, a listing of Certified Facilitators, and comments from people who have participated in it.

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