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The Magic of Conflict: Turning a Life of Work into a Work of Art

1 rating: 3.0
A book by Thomas F. Crum

Crum's optimistic how-to stresses that conflicts are not games, which have winning or losing as their outcome; a conflict is a dance of energy, and if you embrace it in order to work through it, learning and growth occur naturally. Cofounder of the … see full wiki

Tags: Books, Nonfiction, Self Help Books, Conflict, Interpersonal Conflict
Author: Thomas F. Crum
Publisher: Touchstone
1 review about The Magic of Conflict: Turning a Life of...

The Aiki Approach to Conflict

  • Jul 29, 2010
"The Magic Of Conflict: Turning a Life of Work into a Work of Art" by Thomas F. Crum is different from many of the books I have on conflict, and is a bit older. It was written in the late 80s and the Foreword and Photographs are by the late John Denver. First, different and older does not make this book less valuable when dealing with today's conflict, in fact, the book is as relevant today as it was when written. It's different because Crum's take on conflict comes from his years of studying the martial art of Aikido. His Aiki Approach is one that is practical not only for dealing with external conflict, but one that an individual can use to overcome struggles within oneself to live a more harmonious life at home and the office.

As a martial artist, mediator, and attorney who deals a lot with conflict resolution, this book called out to me, and I found myself not only enjoying the book, but agreeing and seeing similarities to my own practices, both as a martial artist and as a mediator.

After the Foreword and a short introduction, Part One: The Challenge focuses on the extraordinary state, the nature of conflict, and conflict and contest. In Part Two, The Aiki Approach, Crum discusses concepts such as choosing to be centered, accepting your connectedness, the power of discovery, being willing to understand, being willing to change, and choosing to cocreate. The next two chapters, Part Three: Fight, Flee, or Flow, are Don't Sweat the Small Stuff and no Boundaries. The book concludes with Part Four: Taking It To the Streets with chapters on putting it to work and Masters of Aiki.

The book includes quotes and examples from Fisher and Ury, like many books on conflict, but also from Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido, who had a very different vision of martial art and conflict. Personally, with my background, I liked how Crum blended the concepts in the text. Some, that are more into a traditional "lawyer" type of conflict resolution may feel he becomes a bit "woo woo" at times. I do think it helped me, and probably made me enjoy the book more, because of my years of studying various martial arts, including a little Aikido, which has some of the same roots as my primary art of Hapkido.

Near the end, when Crum talks about Masters of Aiki, he is talking about children, and I had to agree with him and believe this to be my favorite chapter. I agree with him that we can all learn a great deal from children if we just pay attention to the lessons.

The concepts in this book have the power to help resolve conflict and to help people live a higher quality of life. The techniques include meditation, breathing exercises and openness. Some may resist these concepts, but for those that learn from Crum and embrace his teachings, this book will be very valuable. I plan on incorporating some of his ideas not only as a mediator and when I teach conflict resolution, but also into my daily dealings with problems and conflict as they arise.

Reviewed by Alain Burrese, J.D., author of Hard-Won Wisdom From the School of Hard Knocks and the dvds: Hapkido Hoshinsul, Streetfighting Essentials, Hapkido Cane, the Lock On Joint Locking Essentials series and articles including a regular column on negotiation for The Montana Lawyer. Alain Also wrote a series of articles called Lessons From The Apprentice.

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