Sometimes when others tell me I can do anything if I set my mind to it I come up with some unrealistic expectations. My tendency is to think I will achieve my goal instantly all by myself. Of course if I entertain that notion for any significant length of time I set myself up for disappointment. None of this is the fault of the person who is trying to build me up. Usually when someone tells me I can do anything if I set my mind to it he or she is simply encouraging me to keep on keeping on. If this comes from someone I trust I know that person isn’t saying it as a platitude. Chances are he or she is going to back it up with an offer to help.
I don’t instantly achieve anything in Karate. I’m told I never will. As I strive to move, strike, and block effectively (or as I at least try not to flap around like a spastic duck), I constantly remind myself:
Plenty of time. I’m currently trying to get my feet to land correctly during one move in a particular kata. I’m thinking in terms of weeks before I can get that movement up to tournament or promotion standards. That’s not negativity. I’m being realistic for my lowly belt rank. Once I can consistently get those feet just right, I can’t stop practicing it. I’ll have to continue practicing it otherwise I’ll have to start back at square one. Remember, I’m talking about just the feet in one movement in a kata! I have a feeling I’d better get used to spending loads of time on each new technique. Patience is a virtue.
Lots of hard work. After class my gi is so stinky and wet with sweat I often chuck it straight into the washing machine when I get home. I spend time outside class both practicing karate on my own and attending other exercise classes to build up my strength, flexibility, grace, and endurance. Karate is hard mental work too. For instance, it’s easy to get upset over the angst that a partner displayed while working in a drill. It’s a lot more work to create opportunities to encourage my fellow student and get her out of that angst. With each rank I achieve the work will get harder. I have to be ready to take on the new challenges and responsibilities once I’m promoted. It’s difficult, but it’s worth it!
Tons of help from others. Feedback helps you set realistic goals and overcome negative attitudes. You don’t have eyeballs outside your head, so it’s difficult to see what you’re doing – even with a mirror! Different perspectives will direct you to loads of things you’ve overlooked. Expert advice is precious and vital to your success. For example, three Senseis, one Sempai, and my own daughter have invested time teaching me that foot movement I mentioned above! I’ve been amazed that each of the four men and my daughter have taught me different aspects of how my feet are supposed to move in that one little part of one kata. So if that much time and input have been given to me for a foot movement that should be executed in less than a second, how much more has been invested into me during the few months that I’ve been training? A lot – and probably a lot more than I realize.
Success. Maybe once you’ve actually achieved something, success doesn’t quite look the way you pictured it before you started pursuing it. That’s OK. You’ll probably find your achievement to be even better than you imagined. But here’s a word of warning. One thing I’ve learned from belt promotions is once you’ve achieved something, it’s time to set new goals. Thus the cycle begins again.
I’ll be exploring each aspect of this “equation” in the weeks to come, and I’ll add links above as I publish the articles.
So what do you think when you hear the words, “You can do anything if you set your mind to it?”
Next article in the series: Plenty of Time