I remember, as a young man, being gung-ho to achieve the world. Everything I started I went 100+ miles per hour. The problem was that every time I failed (or fell short of my expectations) I would speed up, try harder, and get frustrated.
I never quit. I was too hardheaded for that. But, it wasn’t without consequence.
I thought, at the time, that if I kept slugging away at my obstacles that I would bring them down and achieve ultimate control. And, that was the problem: I was seeking control of something that was structurally stronger than I was at the time.
In the end, I found myself in the doctor’s office, dealing with an injury that took me out of commission for six months. It was a physical and psychological blow.
I used to say things like: “Look at this or that ability. You’d have to break me to beat me.” Well, I was broken.
I was frustrated with my situation, resentful of others I saw doing what I did or wanted to do, and even angry. This was not a good place to be. And, if you let it consume you, it will contaminate your life and rot you away if you let it. I recognized my situation, and resolved not to let it – and I didn’t let it.
If you’ve found yourself in a similar situation and are looking for a way out, allow me to share a few things that helped me from this situation as well as helped me get up and get to work – responsibly – achieving my goals:
- Pace Yourself. Don’t continue to struggle against something as if all there is in life is the physical. You see: Anything in life requires more of us than physical strength. If we just keep banging our heads against a wall, thinking our heads are thick enough to bring the wall down, we’ll injure ourselves and our ability to see our way to the other side of the wall (which is the point: get past our obstacles to achieve some success on the other side). If you believe in yourself and your vision, be patient. (A priest once told me that patience is a sign of faith, and it is.) Pace yourself. When we exercise patience, we increase our ability to observe, process and respond to the things around and within us. This allows us to prioritize, organize and respond accordingly without injury – with success.
- Enjoy the Journey. While this should go without saying, it doesn’t happen without discipline. Think about it. How many times in your career have you had to struggle with hard issues and overbearing demands to reach the success you enjoy today? It’s easy, in those situations, to lose heart and joy. It’s easy to give into the struggle, tense up, and lose energy, ability and drive. No one likes to be in that frustrating, debilitating condition, so don’t go there. As you exercise your patience, observe, process and respond to the things around and within you, and take steps (i.e., pace yourself) toward your goals, do so with the goal of joy in mind and body. I’ve met many who believe there is no joy in what they’re doing; that the process doesn’t allow it. This is a wrong way of thinking, and will, inevitably, increase one’s risk of harm. Never give up.
- Trust in the Process, Be Consistent, & Start Small. This goes back to the first step we talked about. Doesn’t it? Think of it like this: When we go on a journey, we start by making the decision to get up and take the first step. When we do, we may be confronted with a million choices, each giving us the option to sit back down, quit, give up or excuse ourselves from the joy awaiting us in the journey. But the reality is that each step is simple, small and, in most cases, easy. If we keep things simple, direct and small, we can avoid a lot of the issues that corrupt our efforts to success and damage our-selves (i.e., we engage in self-defense).
I have a lot of men and women who come into my kung fu school, who are so excited to learn Wing Chun (because they watched Ip Man or some other movie), and they start off wanting the world, wanting to run 100+ miles per hour. They see the advanced tactical fighting drills, and can’t wait to do them. As an instructor you’re faced with the reality that:
- If you let a majority of them try these drills, there will be large portions they’re incapable of doing correctly, compromising their safety; and/or,
- If you don’t let a majority of them try these drills, they will never appreciate the fundamentals necessary to master what those drills are trying to teach them.
- Additionally, if you don’t focus the student and keep them motivated, they may never take the next step in their Wing Chun journey.
On that later note: No one is responsible for your will. You are. So, don’t take what I’m saying as an excuse to blame an instructor for your lack of motivation or your lack of focus. Self-defense requires self-discipline. So, how bad do you want it?
What I learned, through my life’s journey, is that it’s easy to ignore these principles, be impatient and struggle against the mountainous obstacles in front of me – even live with injuries -, but there’s no joy in that process, and the successes that I sought are hardly reached. If you want success in your life, well-being and true joy you must do as I had to learn to do, and exercise these principles. It takes more strength (as it builds more strength) to exercise these than it does injuring ourselves with hard-headed, physical struggles.
Empower yourself to life!™