Okay, it’s time to get real for a minute. As martial artists, we have all hit roadblocks and either fallen out of practicing for a while or, at the very least, considered giving up for one reason or another. Sometimes we feel like moving on. Sometimes we get scared because something happened, like a major injury. Sometimes we just need a little inspiration when we’ve hit a wall or have had some rough nights at practice or the gym.
Allow me to take a moment to impart some thoughts that I hope will help accomplish that for you because we as martial artists are something of a unique family, and it’s always sad to see a fellow practitioner fall out and give up. Here are some rules I think are good to keep in mind when you hit those rough patches.
Fair warning – I get more emotional as this article moves on. There’s some colorful language (not a lot, but be aware) as I get to the parts that mean the most to me. It’ll be okay, I promise. With that said, these are the things to remember:
1. Begin With the End In Mind
If you’ve ever heard of Stephen Covey, author of the famous 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, you may have heard this expression. It is helpful to determine what it is you want and how to get there and fully internalize it.
I don’t mean just seeing it in your head or even feeling it in your heart. I mean truly internalizing what your end result looks like and accepting that it’s already arrived. All you’re doing at this point is going through the motions that it takes to achieve those results. If you’ve convinced yourself that you are what you want to be, then the “doing” becomes automatic, like a continuation of what you’ve always done.
Does that mean it doesn’t become difficult to stay motivated, even though you’re just goning through the motions? Of course not! Things (and people) get in the way constantly! But that brings us to point number 2…
2. Prioritize What’s Truly Important
There always seem to be people and other distractions that keep us from achieving what is important to us, and that’ perfectly normal. It’s funny how we let things derail us when we’re having trouble becoming successful in the things we set out to do.
The sad part is that we as people care what others think about us. Okay, so that’s not totally fair; we should care to some extent. I mean, if we don’t care at all, then what is our incentive to improve things like how we serve others? If we don’t care at all, then we’ll need no reason to find a way to innovate and be successful. We have to care to some degree.
BUT we care about the wrong things, like what people think about our desire to better ourselves because it makes them feel bad. Waaaaaaaaahhh!!!!! Guess what? It doesn’t matter. If other people don’t like that you try harder than they do, that’s their problem, not yours.
The whiny social justice warriors who hate rich, successful people – the vast majority of whom tried to figure out what people need and how to provide it better than others and spent hours on end for years to get there – don’t want you to know that it’s just because they’re not willing to do the same. The fat ass who gripes about the hottie who counts her calories and spends 6-8 hours a week in the gym isn’t doing herself or anyone else any favors.
And the guy in your school who’s still only halfway through the ranks 4 years in hates your second degree black belt over the same period of time should be following YOUR example of busting it for hours on end and learning how to correct every mistake, not the other way around.
Instead of priorotizing how accepted you are, prioritize what’s truly important. Those people will be out of your life soon enough and it won’t matter anymore. But you’ll still be left with either a) your drive and effort to succeed or b) your dreams about what you gave up because you were too damn worried about the wrong things.
But what if I mess up and people laugh at me?! Well, that’s easy.
3. Laugh Along With Them. Failure Is An Opportunity To Learn and Improve.
My dad and I debate about this one, which is tough because my dad is one of the people I respect the most in the world, and my philosophies come directly from him. I dare say, though, that when the thought is framed the right way, he does certainly agree.
You know, while I’m at it, I’m going to shamelessly plug his book, Naked Thinking, because the right mindset is the cornerstone of success. And his book sums up all of the years of teaching he has given me, which has led me to be able to learn to speak 3 languages, play guitar in front of thousands, build a successful wealth management practice, publish an amazing website, and advance well ahead of my peers in 4 different martial arts.
Okay, so moving on… 🙂
We only debate over whether or not failure is a good thing. His thought is that if you can learn without failure along the way, then it’s better. Okay, so that’s hard to argue, especially when you consider that failure is often defined as giving up and not continuing on.
However, the reality is that we DO fail from time to time, and since that’s the case, we’d might as well use it to our advantage. I’m personally defining failure in a more single-incident sense, so for example, you attempt a jump-back spinning heel kick for the first time and land on your ass instead of hitting your target. That would be a failure for this argument.
Thing is, failure is how we know where we stand. Without failure in this sense, we get good, but we tend to rest on our laurels because we don’t know any better. We don’t try harder. One of the things dad always liked to say is that “man’s greatest obstacle to being truly great… is being very good”, and it’s 100% true.
One of the biggest problems with this mindset is that we think we’re better than we are, and our ego gets in the way. Then, when we DO eventually mess up, it makes us question whether we’re any good at all! We beat ourselves up, and often, we become depressed, which makes it harder to just get out there and keep doing what we know we should be doing. Sometimes it becomes just another excuse to give up altogether!
4. Stop Making Excuses and Finding Reasons Why You Can’t – THAT’S the Main Reason Why You Can’t
This one’s easy. Just kidding! We have a propensity to be lazy. We just do. My wife would probably tell you I don’t, but that’s BS. I constantly find excuses to get out of work. But you know what? Well, I’ll tell you what during the next (and last) point, so just keep reading.
There’s always something in the way. We don’t have time. We don’t have the energy (although if you would eat right and hit the fucking gym every once in a while, you’d have more energy). We have too much other stuff to do. Whatever.
BULLSHIT!!! Quit making excuses and make time instead. If you want it, you make it happen. Ever notice how when you are always broke but have to come up with rent before your roommate kicks you out, you seem to be able to come up with the money? Or even better – when you want to buy that thing you’ve had your eye on, you seem to be able to make it happen? Yeah, it’s all about priorities (see point #2).
So stop making excuses and just get off your ass and freaking do it.
5. Just DO It
What more can I say? In the end, it’s a choice of whether or not you do it. When times are tough, suck it up and just do it.
What if I look bad? Shut up and just do it.
What if people laugh at me? Shut up and just do it.
But I’m tired! Shut up and just do it.
But it’s HARD!!! Kiss my ass. Just do it.
But it hurts when I fall or get hit! Really? You’re a pansy. Just do it.
I don’t have time! Shut up and make the time. And then do it.
I don’t care what excuses you have, I’ve already covered that. If you want to be a successful martial artist, guitarist, financial advisor, singer, dancer, teacher, doctor, or anything else, shut the fuck up and just do it. As my good friend and ninjutsu teacher would say, you’ll have plenty of time to whine and cry about it when you’re dead. In the meantime, get moving. You have a lot of work to do, so go out there and just do it.
What are your thoughts? Do you have any rules or reminders to stay motivated and keep pushing? Please comment below!