Don’t focus on the outcome
I think that too many people focus on an outcome, whether it be achieving a personal or professional goal. Instead of focusing on the outcome, one should just concentrate on the steps to success rather than looking down the road to the outcome. Focus on the day to day steps to success and the outcome will take care of itself. Someone once told me that a focus on making great products will take care of the bottom line. A focus on the bottom line usually leads to products or customer service. Apple is an obvious example. Steve Jobs was famously focused on every aspect of the design of a product. He was much more focused on the quality of Apple’s products than on their bottom line. Due to their “insanely great” products, Apple has now become the most valuable company in history. It remains to be seen if Apple retain their laser like focus on product quality in the post Steve Jobs years. For those studying the martial arts and wishing to achieve rank, do not worry about rank. Focus on the steps to that rank. Pay attention to the details of the material you need to work on. Be in the moment and don’t worry about some testing date down the road. Focus on the here and now. Focus on the things that are under your control. Focus on having the self discipline to do what’s necessary on a consistent basis. Focus on the martial arts journey, not the outcome.
Very often martial artists or those engaged in athletic endeavors will reach a plateau or they may find that their rate of improvement dramatically slows down. The tough question to be faced is whether one is willing to put in the work necessary to achieve a 1% or 2% improvement in their performance ? For some, it appears to be not worth the effort to see only incremental improvement in their overall performance. I think that it’s worth it for the reason that incremental improvement really adds up over time. Let’s say your performance improves (admittedly, when it comes to martial arts, this can be subjective) by 1% or 2% each year for the next 20 years. You are looking at a substantial improvement over a prolonged period of time. While this is easy to understand intellectually, it’s harder to put in the effort over a sustained period of time. But it can be done and it is noticeable. For example, if you look at videos of Professor Remy A. Presas in the 1970s and compare them to the videos he made in the late 1990s, one can see a very noticeable difference in his performance level. His movements became much more refined, subtle, and efficient compared to twenty five years earlier. His timing, rhythm, and body management underwent noticeable improvement. The great thing about incremental improvement is that they are long lasting. It’s safe to assume that the incremental changes come as a result of hours of practice, aided both by instruction and self discovery and tend to be more ingrained. Naturally, this goes to the question of motivation and desire to practice when you know that improvement may be only incremental. But it’s worth the effort! As George St Pierre points out, nobody becomes great overnight. Steady consistent practice is the key. Focus on the martial arts journey, not the outcome.
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