In Aikido we use an exercise to physically distinguish between three kinds of power -- power that is rigid and controlling, power that's limp and ineffectual, and power that flows. Verbally and emotionally we act out these three forms of power when we attack ("I can't believe you're late again!"), manipulate or acquiesce ("I guess I'll just have to put up with you being the way you are."), or speak with purpose and positive intent ("In the future, I'd appreciate your calling when you know you're going to be late.").

In my workshops and coaching, students find this Aikido exercise has applications beyond language, from leadership and parenting styles to how they execute their golf swing.

The exercise is called "The Unbendable Arm" because a partner tries to bend your arm three times while you: 1) resist the pressure; 2) go limp and let the arm bend; and 3) visualize your ki (energy) moving powerfully through your arm -- like water through a fire hose -- toward a vision or purpose you're passionate about.

The feeling the third time is one of effortless power, the kind that comes from knowing what you really want and going for it. The arm stays extended so easily that you wonder if your partner is really trying to bend it.

In life, when you're in this state of flow, you know it in a similar way. Things work. Support happens. Life is easy.

So how does this help us realize our dreams? As you peer into the looking glass of 2011, ask yourself:

What is your dream? What gives you energy just thinking about it? What makes your ki flow? The first step is to get clear on what you want.

What's holding you back? The "Unbendable Arm" transforms problems. The pressure can stop you, or you can see it as energy to be utilized – as an opportunity to clarify:
• What parts of your life are on hold due to indecision?
• What relationships need attention?
• Are there conversations you need to hold in more purposeful ways?

When you clarify purpose, you increase power and flow in your life. Take a moment now to physically center yourself. Inhale slowly, soften your chest, relax your posture. Exhale tension. Return to the present.

Take ten minutes each day to see your future. Read the Visualization Practice from my book, Unlikely Teachers: Finding the Hidden Gifts in Daily Conflict, and practice it daily. And remember that true power lies not in getting all your hopes met, but in knowing what you want.

Author's Bio: 

Judy Ringer is the author of Unlikely Teachers: Finding the Hidden Gifts in Daily Conflict and the award-winning e-zine, Ki Moments. Judy is a black belt in aikido and nationally known presenter, specializing in unique workshops on conflict, communication, and creating a positive work environment. To sign up for more free tips and articles like these, visit