I remember when I was competing in martial arts tournaments overseas (and still am ha ha). I would literally be training for a few hours each day and loving it. The training was the easy part. The really hard part was juggling the rest of my life to allow for training. We all have commitments, such as:
- Working career;
- Extracurricular activities, such as music, swimming, cricket, football;
- Charitable endeavours; and last but not least
- Martial arts
It was (and sometimes still is) difficult juggling everything. I need family time, so that was a must. However, it used to get to a point where I was inadvertently doing shortcuts with my other commitments just to get my martial arts training in. I either was not spending enough time on them, or I was just not being efficient at them.
The Black Belt Symbol
I had already earned my Black Belt in martial arts. The Black Belt is a symbol of excellence. But is it OK to be a Black Belt in one area of your life but not in other areas? In my opinion, NO! The Black Belt is more than just properly demonstrating techniques on a grading day. There are so many mental and emotional lessons that you must master before you even earn the right to go for your Black Belt. I came to realise for me to commit to my highest priorities, I had to become a Black Belt in those areas of my life. It was the only way.
Many moons ago, I heard Phil Gould (one of the most successful rugby league coaches of all time) talk at conference. Phil is a great motivational speaker. Phil was asked to describe his perfect “10 out of 10” player. As you read these attributes, think about whether you are applying these to all areas of your life (including martial arts), where applicable:
- High skill and technical level;
- Outstanding world-class professional;
- Excellent and refined preparation;
- Total concentration on the task at hand;
- Great decision maker;
- Good leader in the workplace;
- Ability to do what is required at a high standard every time;
- Always open to suggestions for improvement;
- Not phased at the thought of going up against other world-class opponents;
- Superior fitness levels…yes, this even applies to school and work;
- Knows what they need to work on in practice. They understand their weaknesses and are constantly working to make this a strength;
- Does the extra work, over and above what others expect of them;
- Organises their life for their “high priorities”;
- Mentally strong. You must be to maintain focus and discipline, no matter what.
Raise your hand if you think you tick all of these boxes. Not many people can say they are world class in every aspect of their life. However, that does not mean that you cannot start on the road to being a “Black Belt” in all areas. Getting there all starts with YOU!
Therefore, on the honesty factor, rate yourself out of 10 on the following:
- Are you neat and presentable for work, school, social engagements and even martial arts? Are you shaved? Do you smell good? Do you have a smile on your face?
- Health, diet and nutrition. Healthy food affects concentration and mental awareness, both attributes of a good Black Belt;
- Exercise – this affects your ability to perform at a high standard for a long time;
- Always be ready 10 minutes before any engagements;
- Do you do what you say you are going to do when you say you will do it?
- Absolute commitment. The world makes way for the committed person;
- Preparation for each of your daily, weekly and monthly tasks;
- Record-keeping. This also includes doing your homework if you are at school;
- Personality under pressure. Anybody can have a Black Belt attitude when things are good. However, can you keep that attitude when things are not so good?
- Knowledge of what you need to know. If you are at school, you must learn what you are being taught. If you are not getting perfect marks in your tests, then you should aim at getting close. A Black Belt at school would do whatever it takes to learn what they are being taught and do their homework. The same applies to work. In today’s world, you must have complete knowledge of your service, clients and competitors. A Black Belt would learn these inside out, which means they are more efficient at their job, which frees up time;
- Enthusiasm, irrespective of your most recent “result”;
- Thoroughness with all aspects of school, career and life;
- Mental toughness to block out everything but the task at hand;
- No person is an island. You want to have fun and involve all of the important people in your life. Therefore, are you still spending quality time with your family and friends? Are you getting along well with your school mates or fellow staff? This is the most important point on the honesty factor.
There are so many “commitments” in life that it is hard to keep up. The only way that you can keep up is to get better. And the only way that you can get better is to approach each task with a Black Belt attitude. Be the absolute best you can be. It is OK to expect excellence. If you apply the Black Belt attitude, you should not just expect excellence. You will deserve it!
p.s. Make sure you keep martial arts as one of your commitments. Where else are you going to learn the Black Belt attitudes that will help you be excellent at everything you do? Martial arts is the gift that keeps on giving.
p.p.s I love hearing success stories, as it inspires me to be better every day. So let me know how you have rated yourself on the above points. I will help you in any way I can to make sure you are a Black Belt in life.
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