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What a Karate Weapon Taught Me About Achieving Big Goals

What a Karate Weapon Taught Me About Achieving Big Goals
    Photo credit: T4LLBERG (CC BY-SA 2.0)

    When I used to watch martial artists with various weaponry, I was always amazed with their skills. The way they spun and manipulated their weapons was nothing short of magical to my eyes. It wasn’t long before I started training with martial arts weaponry myself.

    One of these weapons was the bo staff, which is like a long stick. Although perhaps one of the more basic weapons (since it really is only a stick), the bo staff can be manipulated in all sorts of impressive ways. But when I first started to use a bo staff, it was absolutely brutal.

    I was so clumsy with it; I often ended up hitting myself on the head, my elbows, knees and shins. And since the bo staff is a long weapon, I needed to have ample room to train with it. Initially when I tried to use it indoors, I ended up poking holes in the ceiling and walls. And this is when the lessons began.

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    Lesson 1: Big Goals, Too Distant

    Because of the lack of room indoors, I had to take my bo staff training outdoors. I was still at my clumsy stage as mastery of this karate weapon seemed like something that was too far off in the distance.

    Sometimes my neighbors would be watching me as I tried to work on various techniques outside with my bo staff. I could just imagine them shaking their heads as they wondered why I was going through such torture beating myself up with this long stick. But despite my difficulties, I didn’t give up.

    Indeed, many of our big goals in life are like this. They seem to be so distant that we wonder if achieving them would ever become possible at all. But we don’t give up with the hopes that we can reach them.

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    Lesson 2: Expand Comfort Zones Little By Little

    I started out with some of the more easy and basic moves. Then as I got better, I added more technical and difficult moves with my bo staff. I was expanding my own comfort zone little by little with each training day. I slowly worked on the techniques I was not very comfortable with. Over time, something magical happened.

    In essence, the bo staff, my body, mind and spirit all started to merge together into one unit, much like the martial artists I had admired for their weaponry skills. I started to get good enough with the bo staff that I was able to perform a routine (or martial arts weapons form) that started to win in competitions.

    Since I was originally not skilled with the bo staff, my comfort zone with it was pretty well just standing there holding it without doing anything too fancy. I was only able to learn how to use it with more complex maneuvers when I slowly expanded my comfort zone each day with it.

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    Lesson 3: Big Goals, Same Approach

    What this karate weapon taught me was that this same approach could be used for all big goals in life.  They could be goals related to business, career, school, health or even martial arts weaponry (like in my case). It didn’t matter how remote it seemed, but by slowly expanding your comfort zone in the process, big goals can be achieved.

    All big goals require the mastery of different skills, which are outside of your comfort zone at first. By slowly expanding your comfort zone a bit each day to work on these skills, you will eventually accomplish what you had hoped for.

    Conclusion

    The bo staff has since become part of my motivation and diversity keynote presentations as it sets me apart from other professional speakers. So even though I’m retired from martial arts competition, the bo staff is still very much a part of my life. It helps me demonstrate the important principle of expanding comfort zones for any big goals that people may have.

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    It is truly a great weapon to have in my arsenal.

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    Last Updated on December 2, 2019

    10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

    10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

    Plato knew that the body and mind are intimately linked. And in the late 1800s, the Mayo brothers, famous physicians, estimated that over half of all hospital beds are filled with people suffering from frustration, anxiety, worry and despair. Causes of worry are everywhere, in our relationships and our jobs, so it’s key we find ways to take charge of the stress.

    In his classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie offers tools to ditch excessive worrying that help you make a worry-free environment for your private and professional life.

    These are the top 10 tips to grab worry by the horns and wrestle it to the ground:

    1. Make Your Decision and Never Look Back

    Have you ever made a decision in life only to second-guess it afterwards? Of course you have! It’s hard not to wonder whether you’ve done the right thing and whether there might still be time to take another path.

    But keep this in mind: you’ve already made your decision, so act decisively on it and dismiss all your anxiety about it.

    Don’t stop to hesitate, to reconsider, or to retrace your steps. Once you’ve chosen a course of action, stick to it and never waver.

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    2. Live for Today, Package Things up in “Day-Tight Compartments”

    You know that feeling: tossing, turning and worrying over something that happened or something that might, well into the wee hours. To avoid this pointless worrying, you need “day-tight compartments”. Much as a ship has different watertight compartments, your own “day-tight” ones are a way to limit your attention to the present day.

    The rule is simple: whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future must not intrude upon today. Everything else has to wait its turn for tomorrow’s box or stay stuck in the past.

    3. Embrace the Worst-Case Scenario and Strategize to Offset It

    If you’re worried about something, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Could you lose your job? Be jailed? Get killed?

    Whatever the “worst” might be, it’s probably not so world-ending. You could probably even bounce back from it!

    If, for example, you lose your job, you could always find another. Once you accept the worst-case scenario and get thinking about contingency plans, you’ll feel calmer.

    4. Put a Lid on Your Worrying

    Sometimes we stress endlessly about negative experiences when just walking away from them would serve us far better.

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    To make squashing that worry easier, try this strategy, straight from stock traders: it’s called the “stop-loss” order, where shares are bought at a certain price, and then their price development is observed. If things go badly and the share price hits a certain point, they are sold off immediately. This stops the loss from increasing further.

    In the same manner, you can put a stop-loss order on things that cause you stress and grief.

    5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It – Happiness, That Is

    We can’t directly influence how we feel, but we can nudge ourselves to change through how we think and act.

    If you’re feeling sad or low, slap a big grin on your face and whistle a chipper tune. You’ll find it impossible to be blue when acting cheerful. But you don’t necessarily need to act outwardly happy; you can simply think happier thoughts instead.

    Marcus Aurelius summed it up aptly:

    “Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

    6. Give for the Joy of Giving

    When we perform acts of kindness, we often do so with the expectation of gratitude. But harboring such expectations will probably leave you disappointed.

    One person well aware of this fact was the lawyer Samuel Leibowitz. Over the course of his career, Leibowitz saved 78 people from going to the electric chair. Guess how many thanked him? None.

    So stop expecting gratitude when you’re kind to someone. Instead, take joy from the act yourself.

    7. Dump Envy – Enjoy Being Uniquely You

    Your genes are completely unique. Even if someone had the same parents as you, the likelihood of someone identical to you being born is just one in 300,000 billion.

    Despite this amazing fact, many of us long to be someone else, thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But living your life this way is pointless. Embrace your uniqueness and get comfortable with who you really are: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

    8. Haters Will Hate — It Just Means You’re Doing It Right

    When you’re criticized, it often means you’re accomplishing something noteworthy. In fact, let’s take it a step further and consider this: the more you’re criticized, the more influential and important a person you likely are.

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    So the next time somebody talks you down, don’t let it get to you. Take it as a compliment!

    9. Chill Out! Learn to Rest Before You Get Tired

    Scientists agree that emotions are the most common cause of fatigue. And it works the other way around, too: fatigue produces more worries and negative emotions.

    It should be clear, therefore, that you’ve got to relax regularly before you feel tired. Otherwise, worries and fatigue will accumulate on top of each other.

    It’s impossible to worry when you are relaxed, and regular rest helps you maintain your ability to work effectively.

    10. Get Organized and Enjoy Your Work

    There are few greater sources of misery in life than having to work, day in, day out, in a job you despise. It would make sense then that you shouldn’t pick a job you hate, or even just dislike doing.

    But say you already have a job. How can you make it more enjoyable and worry-free? One way is to stay organized: a desk full of unanswered mails and memos is sure to breed worries.

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    Better yet, rethink about the job you’re doing: What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career

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    Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

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