Beyond the Mat Lesson One*
You have to want it and you have to work hard for it.
I’ve spent a lot of time over the past 10 years thinking about desire and intent. As the youngest of three siblings with a go-with-the-flow attitude towards life, I ultimately discovered that I would need significantly more passion to achieve the things that I wanted than I had in most cases. Without that burning desire, you can’t help but wonder — is this something that I really want?
A few years ago, I thought I wanted to run a marathon. But even though I successfully completed a half marathon in 2010, I simply wasn’t invested in the journey. After I hit the 10-mile mark in my training program, I stopped making time for it. I hardly ran at all the month before the half marathon, and even though it was a really fun event, it was incredibly difficult, and made me reconsider whether I really wanted to run a full marathon after all. If I had truly wanted to run a marathon, perhaps I would have worked harder to perform well at the half.
On the walls of my martial arts school is the threefold motto, “Conceive, believe, achieve.” I wanted to get my black belt the day I tied on my white belt for the first time. And unlike my love-hate relationship with running, I’ve truly enjoyed the journey to my candidate belt. Despite how much I enjoy martial arts, though, over the past few months, I had a lot of doubts — about my level of competence, my ability to qualify for the test in time, my ability to handle the stress of a six-month black belt test… even about whether I really wanted that black belt at all.
Yet, my training partners and coaches never once doubted me. This current of confidence carried me, totally nerve-wracked, towards last Saturday, the metaphoric plunge over the edge into the start of Intention, the 2015 Freestyle black belt test.
As my friend Christine told me at gold belt, when I asked her for advice about leaving a full-time position and going freelance — when the choice is sink or swim, you swim. With a lot of help and perhaps a bit of hand-holding, it finally clicked for me when I got my red senior belt. I learned how to work for it like I really wanted it. In doing so, I discovered that I really did want it.
Now that my doubts have firm competition from the belief that I can and will do this, I’m not only ready to put in an unforeseen level of dedicated training over the next six months, I’m totally looking forward to it. Especially with this amazing group of people who I very much admire, and who inspire me every time we train.