Atmosphere of Change

word of month character

SL371526Today one of my favorite of my Chinese older kungfu brothers left to try to make his own way outside the kungfu school. Yuan Huailiang is a great young man, the kind of guy I look up to a lot, even though he is years younger than me and has seen less of the world. For one thing, he is an incredibly gifted athlete: his every movement exudes grace and strength that I envy. But more so than that, he is someone I have watched change into a really calm, confident, open person.

When I first came to Wudang and met Huailiang, when he was maybe 17 or 18, he seemed like kind of an angry kid. I remember sitting down at a meal across the table from him. I was already a little in awe of him, having seen his kungfu and how he moved, but as I sat there across from him he fixed me with this stare. He later told me that he had actually practiced that look in  a mirror a bit. It was the look of a predator at a watering hole, incredibly dangerous but for the moment tolerating your presence. I don’t think he wanted me to sit with him 🙂 I thought, “Wow, this is a powerful kid.” But it was also an angry, unhappy kid.

Being in awe of his kungfu and raw attitude was cool, but what is better is how he soon after grew out of that angry phase and seemed to find himself. His emotions calmed down, he became much more focused in his teaching and training, and though he to this day maintains a little of the crazy that I first glimpsed at that lunch table, it is channeled through easy laughter and playfulness. Last summer we were playing hackysack. When we kicked it to him he immediately started volleying it high in the air, letting it drop through the loop of his arms, and kicking it back up time and time again with a completely spontaneous aptitude for the game. He just laughed, a pure expression of joy, as we chased him around trying to get the hackysack back. That light heart does not keep him from his responsibilities, however, and he is one of the best, most capable and thoughtful coaches our school has had.

What I want to illustrate, through my little anecdotes about Huailiang, is the value of having a culture where people are expected to change. Shifu is always encouraging us to develop and grow at a very fundamental emotional level, and of course teaching us techniques to effect that change. That is what I had the pleasure of seeing Huailiang do – completely change his outlook, practically overnight. And I have seen many, many foreign students do the same thing. I really give a lot of credit to that atmosphere of expectation that grants the freedom for us to re-define ourselves. In other places and times of my life, I have felt as though I had to continue to be who I had been because that was what others expected of me. I do not feel that here — the expectation is that I will change, that I will become better and better.

 

What makes disciplined people successful?

word of month character

Have you ever noticed that those who reach their goals, that is achieve the things that they want, always seem to be the ones that do what is necessary, even when they don’t feel like it. 

There are many individuals who would have loved to have been in the Olympics, but there are very small percentage that the discipline to do what is necessary to get to that level of success and even less that place in the top 3 in the world.  If we look at what the most successful do though we see that every part of their life they practice discipline – so they can reach their goal.

How do they do this?   There is much involved but we could say that they work hard, plan ahead, practice, and schedule the time.  They know what they want to acheive and  then they practice what we will call WBP.  WBP stands for Work Before Play.  When we use our discipline we set our goals, make a plan, maybe get a coach to help us, then schedule how we can accomplish the goal, then we WBP.

No excuses, no goofing around, no doing it halfway.  We don’t play at it, or allow other activities to get in the way of it we just “Do it!”  There will be no procrastination… or if there is we recognize it immediately and complete the task at hand.

I have been working on this for so long and recently I read a book about getting things done that are important for the progress of my personal growth as well as reaching my goals.  The author, Brian Tracy, said “eat the big frog first”.  He went on to describe how everyday we should make a list of the three things that would have the biggest impact on our lives or business.  Then the hardest, most difficult of the three should be done first and stuck with until it was complete.  Eat the biggest, ugliest, stickiest frog first.  Then be sure to complete all three tasks no matter what in that day. 

Why?  Because when you get rid of that one you have a sense of accomplishment and the rest of the frogs don’t look that bad.  I have been trying this and it has been working very well for me.  You may want to try this too.  Having said that some of the hardest things to be disciplined about though is our diet and exercise.  More on that next time.