Strength is having an identity that is centered in something other than your accomplishments. Then, when you fail (which all of us inevitably will), your foundation will not be shaken. Rather than questioning your worth and subsequently acting out of fear and defensiveness, you can remain confident and look for how you can become better from the experience. It is this strength that allows you to work towards the improvement of those around you instead of pushing others down so you can get one step ahead. It permits you to put your ego aside and be willing to make mistakes in front of others in order to learn something new without feeling ashamed. It motivates you to persevere at those tasks that challenge and stretch you the most and to ask for help when you need guidance.
I want to find this strength in my practice of aikido as well as in every other aspect of my life. In aikido, I am not strong because I can perform advanced moves and take ukemi well or because I’ve reached a certain level of training. I am not weak because I am still fumbling with basic moves and figuring out what it means to move from my center. I may not always remember this truth, especially in those moments when I’ve failed in one way or another, but I hope that I will return to it so that I can be someone who grows from her failures, is gracious to others, and is humble yet always striving to improve.