Tuesday, May 15, 2007

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Are you ready now?


As the famous 16th/17th century Swordsman and strategist, Miyamoto Musashi said in his wonderful text, The Book of Five Rings: "Timing is Everything'.
Understanding timing is an essential skill understood and utilized by musicians, jugglers, surgeons, businessmen and fighters alike. It is about understanding the importance of 'WHEN' ...

Throughout my martial arts training there have been countless times when I have been exposed to ideas, concepts or techniques that I was simply not ready to understand, appreciate or 'take on board'. It seems there is a right time to learn things. We may be exposed to them at one point, but the 'lesson' may not sink in until we are ready. I find this to be an interesting phenomenon.

As a teacher of martial arts, I need to continually try and be aware (a difficult job) of when students are 'ready' for certain things. When you teach someone something at the the 'right time', they often experience a quantum jump in understanding and performance.

Of course, this thing goes well beyond the teaching/learning of martial arts - it pervades all of our lives. We turn our noses up at something one year and embrace it like a drink in the desert the next year. Why is that? Because for a hundred little reasons, we were just 'ready' for it that next year!

I was teaching at a martial arts school the other day and the owner of that school asked me if he should subscribe to a martial arts business service (for a monthly payment he would receive ad slicks, marketing and student retention tips, etc).
I looked around his school, saw crap all over the place, focus mitts and kick pads lying on the floor, paperwork all over the place; the mat was messy, in short, the place was in a state of chaos. So my answer to his question was simple - 'No!'
He asked 'why not?' - I replied 'Because you are not ready to take in more students. Your place is a mess, you have no systems, you are not ready to offer a professional level of service.'
I told him to clean up his act - get his place looking professional - and then ask me again. He was simply NOT READY to go to the next level; he had some serious house-cleaning to do first!

This got me thinking of course, how in thousands of ways, all of us are NOT QUITE READY to go to the next level in the various areas of our lives that need improvement. And more to the point, what is it that 'KICKS US OVER THE EDGE' - what set of circumstances, events of experiences conspire to MAKE US READY?

Take buying our first house for example: many people that have bought one, have bought many. Others are struggling to pay off their first home first - while many, many others are struggling to build up the courage to jump in and buy their first home. How do we get ourselves, or our friends to do whatever it takes to make that first move - how do we get them READY?

I have found what works well is to show them how many other people, especially their friends, have done it already. This sends a message - HEY, IT"S NORMAL TO DO THIS - WHAT"S UP WITH YOU? This taps into their unconscious desire to conform and move toward SAME or LIKE behaviours. In my experience, pointing out that hundreds of thousands, if not millions of other people have GONE BEFORE THEM, is a powerful way of getting them to consider the possibility of them doing it. It seems strange to me - but apparently, most people do not like GOING FIRST!

Anyways, enough waffling on. This is a vast subject - and one that is integral to success in many of the ways we tend to measure such things. It's great to be able to interact with people who have already done the things that we have written down on our own 'to do' lists. Read up on how other people have done things, on how successful they were because of doing those things; all this is part of the preparation that gets us ready to take action ourselves.

Food for thought - and thought is where it all begins!

Train Smart - Train Safe.
JBW

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