If only ….
The Olympics have begun and I have to admit I look on somewhat enviously. 16 years ago I retired from the sport of stick-fighting after 3 World Championships and 2 European Championships; for 6 years I’d put my heart and soul in wanting to become World Champion and I had failed at the final hurdle in 2 finals. It was somewhat disappointing. Even more disappointing is the lack of representation at the Olympics. When I first competed in 1992 they talked about getting it into the Games by 2000. It’s as far away now as it’s ever been. Why? Political infighting and self interest. The fact is the Olympics isn’t a big enough prize for the organisers of stick-fighting; for them it’s about who is right. That made me think about other priorities that people have.
A true story
I hear, all the time, that people wish they could train in martial arts, but they don’t have the time; or they’d like to train, but they don’t have enough money. I also hear that people can’t get ahead at work or that life is giving them tough breaks. In truth these are excuses. It’s the lack of a plan; surrounding themselves with people who will listen to their bullshit and pat them on the back. It’s thinking in the short term with no long term plan. You know that old chestnut that people will often ask you – where will you be in 5 years? The answer is always the same “Do I look like a bloody fortune teller?” The fact is we don’t know where the world will be in 5 years, so I have no idea where I will be. If I look back 5 years, and I pretty much know exactly what I was doing and where I was 5 years ago, I could never have envisaged all I’ve done. Having said all of that I can plan the next 12 months with a view to where I’d like to be in 2 years, that’s because I know with my 1 year plan it will take me further than I could have imagined 12 months ago. I have a friend who inspires me: 19 months ago he was in a terrible place in his life – he had a decent job, but he felt lost, alone and frightened. I offered to help. Really quickly things began to change; not because of what I did, but because of the action he took. Daily, incrementally. His daily disciplines if you like. I gave him some help, but he did all the work. He stopped smoking, overcame an injury sustained last summer, worked his heart out at his job, gained two pay rises, a massive bonus and two promotions. He’s travelled overseas on business (something he’d never done before), fallen in love and gone on a dream holiday. What will he achieve this time next year?
It’s about daily disciplines
This stuff I do I don’t just tell other people what to do, I use it myself. A year ago I was in a terrible mess – all my fault I admit, but I started to turn it around and day by day successes started happening. I joined the Entrepreneurs Circle and it helped me as much as I helped my friend. With great advice, a superb local group and by taking on daily disciplines. In that time I have transformed my business, won the local Entrepreneur of the month award and the national one, won a national writing competition, added more value to my business and set myself a 12 month plan with the 2 year option. What I do today will pay off in the future. Yet, I still feel that I don’t do enough. Some days my brain will not engage. I mess about, let myself be distracted, listen to my own bullshit – so when I tell you that you could do more (I’m thinking of my martial arts students and my clients now) don’t think I don’t know what it’s like to look out the window.
A bipolar procastinator
I’m lucky though as I have a number of stimuli that stop me from being the near failure of 2011. One of the best is my national award I won back in April. It hangs on my wall and it says at the bottom ‘awarded for making shit happen’. It reminds me I aspired to win it and I have to do more or fail. I have a great group of business friends that I don’t want to lie to when we meet up once a month and so I have to do more. When I see my students I have to be in shape and still training; I can’t ask more of them if I’m not willing to do the work myself. Sometimes it’s my father who still haunts me as well – he came up in conversation at the gym last week. Although I feel sorry for him on one hand on the other I hate his weakness; his lack of control and discipline that made him drink more until he died in his chair, alone, a failure as a father and as a businessman. I don’t have his talent for making things and painting, but I know I have my own talents and I must not squander them. I often worry that I’ve left some things too late and I won’t catch up. In 7 months I’ll be 50 and I want to be set on the direction which will fuel my next decade.
Are you just kidding yourself?
We all procrastinate at times. We tell ourselves things are not possible or achievable, but the limits are in our heads and our actions. If you are a student of mine at the martial arts club and you want a distinction for every grade them show up for every lesson you can, study hard and work harder. If you are a client of mine and have not achieved as much as my friend has ask yourself why. He is no smarter than you, has no great talents and is not blessed with wealth. He worked hard, he had a plan and he has gone beyond his original plan and is on the next phase of his life. My plans are way beyond what I thought I could achieve, but every day I edge closer to them. You will have goals and desire, so I ask the question I opened this with: Do you really want it or are you just kidding yourself? If you don’t want it that bad then admit it to yourself; it’s fine no-one will criticise you, it’s your life. If you do, take action; lots of it every day and hit through the target. These Olympians over the next two weeks will inspire us and amaze us. For 4 years these athletes have worked for this one moment – in some cases the margin of victory will be hundreds of a second, but someone will win. If you want to win your gold medal then stop bullshitting yourself, surround yourself with people who care if you succeed or fail, make a plan and do something every day which will make that plan succeed. As my friend Mo Teague says “Character is who you are when no one else is watching.”