Monday, October 15, 2012

Size Matters

(at left - the character DAI 大 "big" in fires on a Japanese mountainside)

Size matters.  You hear it all the time.  This is not wrong, but it needs some context.

I am a big proponent of efficiency rather than just sheer size, not just because I am only 5"7" tall.  It is also because I abhor wastefulness, and I find an elegance in scaling the solution to the need.  For me this applies in martial arts as it does in everything.

There are times, though, when size matters more than anything else.

One of those times is when you SET YOUR GOALS.

Richard Bach, author of Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, wrote "argue for your limitations and they're yours."
I couldn't agree more.  While it is of critical importance that although your plans consist of smaller, more manageable steps to reduce the risk of failure, allow for contingencies, and reinforce achievement, the goals in your life - especially your long-term goals - should be BIG.  BIG enough to be meaningful for you.

To me, there is simply not much point in going after things which are already in reach - if they are too easy to achieve, there is no value in achieving them at all, and we never develop the unshakable confidence we need to make our real mark on the world around us.  If our narrow mind can imagine only something so small, it is far better to start over or wait than it is to pursue a goal which is not worthy of our continued best  efforts. Much of the time, the effort between small and big goals is not proportionately different, and the chance of success or failure not really so different either.  If you are going to fail something small, you might just as well fail at something big - something worth shooting for.

In my case, after I started martial arts training, my teacher used to talk about Japan and I became fascinated.  I set my mind on going to Japan one day to see for myself what was in all the books I read and stories he had told.

Ultimately, this goal took 10 years of my life to achieve, and I failed the first three attempts (the third time nearly breaking my will for good).  On the fourth attempt, my plan came together and I was able to realize my lifelong dream to visit Japan, arriving as an exchange student in Osaka in 1991.  That changed everything.  By January 2003 I was here for good, and except for some time in Singapore (at my company's request in 2008-2009) I have stayed in Japan the better part of 20 years.  Beyond even my wildest expectations I have built a life here --- A career, a home, a family... a treasure of experiences that has helped me truly understand that mankind knows no limitations other than what we impose on ourselves.

I wish you all the same sense of accomplishment I have had and I encourage you to plan small, but to DREAM BIG.

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