Saturday, March 26, 2016


(thanks for the inspiration Jason A.)

A very important list.  So important it is worth checking a second time.
After seeing this I promised myself I would make it into a workshop talk, using the empty pad as a prop.  It's just too powerful to ignore.

Very often we fall into the trap of believing the world owes us something or that we are entitled to something.  Sometimes this is due to a misguided idea of "fairness" (the world is many things but fair is not one of them) or that other people should do things for us because we are "special" (yes we are, but so is everyone else).

As a kid from a broken home, sent to an orphanage and placed into foster care before I was even a year old, this lesson was not a difficult one for me to learn.  The things other children had by default came very rarely for me, and some things never came at all.  For many years I wanted to be like them and have the things they had. Ultimately, I learned to want the things that I needed most, and the things that would be best for me, not them.

While for much of my life it has felt like a struggle, painful inch after painful inch, I am proud of how far I have come.  Knowing the lesson of entitlement (actually lack of entitlement) has always sobered me to the reality that success often comes to those who want it most, and that wanting something often means accepting the tremendous sacrifices it takes to get what you want in life.
I learned that success can only be defined by you, and that you alone can judge your value.

The good news is that I am completely convinced anyone can have anything he/she wants, provided they can sustain the effort needed, have the patience required and accept the sacrifices involved. The bad news is that there are always opportunity costs to wanting something, and so you'd better always be very sure that what you want is indeed what you really and truly want. There is very rarely a chance in life for a do-over.  The things we did not choose disappear, often never to return.  If you can't learn to let the past go, you carry a heavy burden of regret.

Martial arts training has been fundamental for me.  It changed me from a terrified, angry little boy (yes, fear and anger are twins) to a driven, focused, confident man.  My training taught me how to set and achieve goals inside and outside the dojo, and showed me that we are all equal - the training does not come easy for anyone, and yet gives the same benefit to everyone (although not always in the same way).  Martial arts is the Great Empowerment, the discipline to take responsibility for yourself and your circumstances and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.  Martial arts is the Highway of Change.

Confidence is born of experience, and of an unshakable belief in one's ability to set and achieve goals.  Too many people have a false confidence drawn from their social status, their world view, or their fantasies.  Many people wish on a star hoping that will be enough to get them where they want to be.  Still others sit waiting for someone to do things for them (hint: the one who can do things for you is always right there, in the mirror). TV and movie stories give us unrealistic expectations of how our lives should be, and take away the simple majesty of what each of our lives can be if we choose to set and achieve our own goals, whatever they may be.  Charting the courses of our lives makes them even more beautiful.

In the end, the world owes us nothing, and we are entitled to nothing.
Focused, we can earn anything we truly desire.  There can be no greater inspiration, no greater freedom than this.

That is all.    

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