Smooth seas do not make skilful sailors

Smooth seas do not make skilful sailors

African Proverb

Dealing with adversity is one of the most important categories that must be addressed when looking at any endeavour. I guess the reason is that when you set about to achieve something like a black belt, better health, a thriving business, a university qualification or anything that lights a spark of interest in you, you can never be 100% sure about the complexity of what’s involved, how long it’s going to take, and what hurdles have to be overcome. And even if you did an exhaustive amount of preparation before you started you would waste valuable time and experience that can only be learnt ‘on the job’.

Get loses out of the way

For the most part when you’re working towards something, it’s unfamiliar territory. It’s uncomfortable, tiring, disorientating and hard. And when you take on things that are difficult you will make mistakes, fail, get tapped out, get beaten, be embarrassed and unsure. And for most people who are not wired the right way, it’s a deal breaker. They try to achieve, hit a roadblock and quit. And to be brutally honest, that’s why most people don’t achieve the level of success that they are chasing.  You have to get out there and be prepared to lose. Once you lose a bunch of times, wins are just around the corner. Just like in the martial arts, you wrestle for the first time against someone who has half an idea and what happens? You get smothered; you don’t know what you’re doing and you get tapped out. But what happens if you keep coming back? Well you still get smothered and tapped out for a little while and then one day you get it, you get your first arm bar, you make the escape work that you have practiced a thousand times, and you start to have more control over the outcome. And so it is with nearly everything in your life. Get those losses out of the way and success will be just around the corner. Make mistakes, feel shit about it and quit and you will never get to the result you’re after.

Use failure as motivation

Most people misconstrue difficulties as failure. In reality, difficulties are simply results that you don’t want. If you take a golf ball, place it on a tee and take a swing at it and miss, what has happened? You have an intention to produce a result, you get your tools ready and you mess it up. So the question is, what do you do with that? Do you say to yourself “you know what I have never been good at ball sports, there is no way that I am ever going to able to do this properly” or do you say “you know what I am crap at this, but what can I do to get better at it?”. The first attitude is a self-defeating attitude and the latter is a self-empowering attitude. And self-empowerment is where improvement is born.

Learn from your mistakes

Mistakes teach us how not to do things. If your doing something a particular way and it is not working, what needs to happen? You need to change what you’re doing. There is an old saying that says, “that the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect different results”. In my life and martial arts experience, I have learnt that most of the things we struggle with only need a slight adjustment in strategy. Just the smallest change in how you do things can produce a massive change in outcome. The trick is to tweak everything you do just a little better each time and eventually you make it work.

Be a tortoise

I am sure that you have read Aesop’s tale of the hare and the tortoise (If not google it), with the whole message being “slow and steady wins the race”.  And I think that there is a lot of wisdom in that. A lot of people when they start something do so at such a ferocious intensity that they burn themselves out before any significant results are achieved. If you apply a moderate level of intensity you are more likely to iron out everything that needs to be ironed out to be successful.

So, don’t let rough seas deter you in your journey and quest for success. The difficulties you encounter are there to teach and strengthen you – not to deter you. As a wise man once said: “adversity introduces a man to himself.”