We’ve all been there: we have a goal in mind, we build a timetable that seems reasonable, prepare, study, and stick to the plan. The test or the match or the moment of truth comes along and… well… we flop. An industrial-grade, CostCo-sized batch of failure is presented to us – often with friends and loved ones watching. Awesome.
On its own, this is not enough to shake an experienced martial artist. We’re used to this. It is common for us to drive in and execute on a seemingly well-put-together plan only to have it not work as we had intended. It’s hardly something to get stuck on, if you’ve considered the concept of cultivating an indomitable spirit. Typically, we aren’t shaken; we take a breath, stand back up, get back to work, and grow a sense of humor about it.
But what happens if we collect ourselves and try again and it still fails? And a third time… and maybe a fourth time… This starts to exceed the bounds of a normally tenacious quality into seeming self-abuse. The goal seems reasonable and the plans seem good, but the success is still elusive. What now?
First, it is important to relax. When placed in a scenario like this, it is easy to begin to take others to task. Specifically, the act of taking teachers, mentors, and close friends through our own misery and self-examination needs to be done in a controlled way. While it is really good to take these people through this process to get their feedback, be sure not to lose sight of the fact that this is your project. If you want success, then you have to be willing to own failure. That doesn’t mean part of failure; you must own all of it and each harsh repetitive iteration that may come down the pike. These other players are there in an assisting capacity at best. Take a breath, pick it apart, and be sure to own it without pointing the finger at anyone other than yourself.
Secondly, be sure to define success appropriately. If you are a petite person wondering why you are having trouble dominating a bigger person with similar experience and training, then you clearly haven’t been realistic in your goals. While it is admirable to see someone have the chutzpah to run up to an opponent and ply their study on them like a superhero, it would be unintelligent to be angered or disheartened by having that larger opponent pull out the proverbial kryptonite out on you. Success, in this context, might better be defined as being able to maintain a stalemate in the match – possibly just keeping the losing margin small. Merely being a contender has its merits, after all. Perhaps the goal isn’t that; maybe it was about passing a test or accomplishing some specific skill or issue. In this case, the repeated failures are signalling to you that this issue is much larger than you originally thought. Even if it wasn’t tough for someone else, that isn’t relevant. It *is* tough for you. Take the time and break this larger goal into smaller parts. Create a curriculum for yourself with more easily attainable waypoints along the way. Draw from people in your community to help you, but then own it. Make sure the goal is reasonable and adjust accordingly.
Thirdly, be sure that the support players have done their job – assuming they are professionals and not just friends. It’s natural to want to point fingers at others when we fail. One has to be careful not to shift ownership of their issues to others. Still, owning the situation means making sure you have the right community around you. Is the community you are working with interested in your growth? Are they actively supporting you in achieving your goals? Sometimes, these people are doing the best that they can, but you simply aren’t receiving it. We all learn differently and have different ways of seeing things. Reaching out to others in the community isn’t a bad thing – try to explore what is being expressed to you with other students, teachers, and colleagues. Someone may have another way of looking at an issue or concept that will make more sense to you. This failure is telling you, after all, that you do not understand enough yet to achieve your goal. If the problem is that central to success and you don’t understand it yet, then it is necessary to study – be an expert in this issue, whatever it is! Have the people around you help you to be that expert. If they aren’t willing, then find a new community. If they are but things aren’t flowing smoothly, then begin reaching out to the wider community. Stay on track with your martial arts school, but don’t be afraid to get some clarification from other people. When you do succeed, then you will be a credit and a resource to the other people you’re currently getting help from now. Pay your success forward when you get it.
Lastly, and this is an important step – stop talking. It sounds rude to say it like that, but it is true and actually compassionate to mention it. A mind that is chattering can’t learn, can’t see something new, and so it can’t grow. Go back and gather the information about your last attempts. Roll it around in your mind. Realize that the step you are trying to make is a larger one than you originally realized. Create some smaller more attainable goals that are heading in the direction of the original aim. After you’ve talked to everyone about it, checked to see if the goal is good, checked your support system, and you’ve set better and more detailed goals, then it is important to just move forward. Being stuck in a failure is going to sap you of a lot of energy and joy while giving you nothing in return. Get back to the task at hand and move on. If someone asks you about it, answer the question and do not dwell on the failure. Get back to work – get back to progress – get back to success by tackling the smaller goals and working up to the big one. None of us are meant to live in dank hopeless misery; so don’t.
In doing these things, you will maximize your efforts and minimize the time towards success and not be bogged down in the negativity and embarrassment that can accompany these failures and setbacks in life. If you find you are overly negative, then step back and get some perspective. Get back to the joy of study and growth. Follow these things and move forward; keep focused on growing and the success will come in time. Try to enjoy the journey since the goal you’ve set out to do must be a big one! If you find you are overly embarrassed, then realize that you have already succeeded compared to your situation before you began trying. Forgive it and remember that all compassion starts with ourselves. If people around you put you down for failing, then forgive them. The people that do this have no compassion and haven’t ever really tried something that was difficult for them. How do I know? Because they are putting you down. People that have been challenged, have failed, and have worked through it to success know the pain of the process and have compassion for others going through it. Forgive the compassionless people because they are too afraid to risk failure to have real success – their lives will be hollow. Move on with your full life.
With this approach, success is simply a matter of when, not if. Get after it!Share this: