Patience and fortitude conquer all things.
“Patience and fortitude conquer all things.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
One of my biggest lessons in life is patience. Ever since I was a child I have always had grandiose ideas about what I can achieve. Many of those visions of my future have come true and some have yet to be conquered. The difficulty is taming your ego sufficiently enough not to let disappointment, slow progress and backward steps slow down your efforts to be better at what you do and have the things that you want out of life.
Mentors can help but you have to do the work
I think it’s important to have role models and mentors to give you a yardstick on what you want to be able to achieve. And it’s true that mentors inspire, help, motivate and instruct us to the top. But there are many steps to the top of the mountain and the simple act of having a mentor does not exclude you from having to do the work to get you there. A strong work ethic, a never give up attitude and an ability to continue to persevere when it’s hard are attributes that many people on this spinning planet fail to indoctrinate in to their lifestyle. Our whole culture is geared towards the quick fix and instant gratification and while it is possible to get super quick results, most things that we want to achieve take way longer than we anticipate. So keep your eye on the prize and keep working till it’s done – there are no shortcuts.
Don’t compare - focus on your own game
In the martial arts (percussion too – my other passion) there are a tonne of people around us who are better, more experienced, naturally talented and quicker learners. And while it’s normal to look around at your peers for a measure of how you are going, it’s not always an accurate indication of your own personal improvement. The true measure is to ask yourself the question ‘am I better than I used to be?’ If the answer is “yes”, then you are on the right track. If the answer is “no”, then you need to work harder. If we are constantly looking around and comparing ourselves to everyone else we miss the whole point of any pursuit, which is to improve ourselves. It’s not to be better than everyone else (trust me there’s too many of them), it’s about being better than you used to be and that comes from staying focused, challenging yourself and working on your weaknesses.
Never Give Up
When you start training in the martial arts just watch how many start along with you and drop away. For some it’s a justified decision to stop training but for most (in my opinion) it’s a lack of commitment and self discipline. Everyone who starts wants to be good at it but few ever reach that elite level simply because they give up whenever they hit a roadblock. Sometimes that roadblock is time, sometimes it’s money, sometimes it’s a fear of the challenge and sometimes it’s laziness. Whatever it is (trust me I have heard them all) it is the antithesis of success. You can’t be great at anything if you do it for a while and then quit. You have to keep at it – even when, especially when, it’s hard. And because most people avoid hard things, most people don’t achieve greatness. And if you are reading this, give yourself a pat on the back because you are still in the game - still plugging away and still trying to improve yourself. That’s where success is at in the martial arts and anything else for that matter - working hard and being consistent.