Here’s my quick and easy strategy for long-term success, in the martial arts and in life.
Part One: Take one more class, then quit tomorrow.
Part Two: Do this every day you have class. Decide to take one more class, then quit tomorrow.
Think about this for a second, the idea is actually quite profound.
Sometimes when you say, “I will not quit,” it becomes too difficult to endure, with such a long time horizon as Black Belt.
When you say, “I can quit, or I will quit, I will just do it tomorrow,” you put procrastination on your side.
It’s really brilliant.
See, most people will say, “I’ll do it tomorrow,” and then do nothing today. In this way, procrastination defeats them.
Tomorrow never comes so they never start, or never continue.
So, all you do is turn this around in your mind. You tell yourself something simple, something easy,” just take this one class today, it will be my last class, then I’ll quit tomorrow.”
When tomorrow comes, you just say the same thing, “one more class today and then I’ll quit tomorrow.”
I said this to a parent and I was met with a combination of shock and confusion (but they are still training, years later).
There is something powerful about saying, “yes you can quit.” What this does is actually gives you control, it gives you a choice, it reminds you that you are choosing to do something positive for yourself.
A common parental lament is, “My Child Does Not Want to Come to Class, but every time he comes to class he feels better after class is over.”
Now, in my mind it is fairly obvious that taking class is a good thing for the child, especially based on what the parent just said to me. However, some parents are focused on the struggle and not the transformation that takes place once a child takes class, nor are they focused on what this transformation will do in the long term as the power of perseverance compounds.
Feelings are fickle and emotions shift, not only by the day, nor by the hour, but sometimes by the minute.
“I don’t want to go,” “I want to quit,” “I don’t feel like it,” are often true in the moment, but that moment inevitably passes.
My daughter wakes up, on regular occasion, and says things like I don’t want to go to school, I don’t want to go to the farm, I don’t want to go to karate and I don’t fight it, I accept it.
This is how she is feeling at this moment, but this moment will pass.
My strategy is if we keep moving forward and move on with the day her feelings will change. I accept that there are things that none of us want to do in the moment, sometimes we all would like to lie around for just a bit longer.
There is a time differential between when Siena says she doesn’t want to do something and when we actually have to leave, with plenty of time for her to change her mind.
I know this and this is why I don’t fight her directly or at that moment.
Getting into a direct flight — “you are going,” “no I’m not,” “you are going,” “No I’m not,” is unproductive at the least and maddening at the most.
I can see why parents would want to give up the fight.
Here’s my advice: give up the fight, don’t fight.
This is a major martial arts principle, don’t fight force against force. Align and redirect. Give it a little time.
This is why it helps to tell your child at the beginning of the day what is on the agenda. Crashing into your child’s consciousness and saying it’s time to go to karate (or time to go anywhere) will elicit a fight because your child is not ready mentally and wants to continue what ever it is he or she is doing, no matter what it is.
I’ve been telling myself I can quit tomorrow for over 30 years now.
I’m just going to teach classes today, then I can quit tomorrow.
See you there.