Tuesday, June 26, 2007
There’s a load of talk lately about ‘The Law of Attraction’; talk that suggests if we think the right way, then all the good stuff will just begin to manifest in our lives. Well, if only it were that easy; the millions of starving could just think about food and their troubles would be over! Think all you want – but be prepared to ‘take action’ also – because without action, nothing amazing will ever happen.
Many years ago, my friend Paul and I decided to give rock-climbing a go. So we set about reading all the mags in an effort to figure out who Australia’s top climber was at the time. Eventually, we settled on Malcolm Matheson, an amazing climber who was living at Natimuk in Victoria at the time. After a few calls, we tracked him down, and asked if he could teach us for a week. The deal was done, and in due course we found ourselves down at Mount Arapiles, Australia’s premiers climbing locale, toting a pile of gear and following Malcolm to the foot of our first climb.
So there we were; day one; at the base of a 300 foot climb. Technically, it was a super-easy climb; with giant foot-holds you could park a gumboot in. Easy stuff yes; but way, way high. I suggested to Malcolm, that we should perhaps start on something a little less daunting, and get the basics down, before we go up so high. He laughed off my suggestion, and replied “I just want to see if you can get four or five foot off the ground” – suddenly, I felt stupid and thought better of making suggestions about climbing to Australia’s best climber. I easily ran up the required four or five foot (any five year old could have done it), stopped and said ‘Yep, no problem” – when Malcolm replied, “Well then, just repeat!” it wasn’t long before we were all at the top of that very scary first climb – and the lesson I learned that day has rung true ever since. Don’t focus on the end result – focus on what’s right in front of you; focus on the process!
Goals are great to have – but I have never truly focussed on them. I am a process-driven person; and have found that by being true to the process, by being fully engaged in the process, something will occur – the goal will manifest!
Sure, hang the poster of that new car, that new house or copy of that million dollar cheque up on your wall; but it will do nothing other than give the spiders somewhere to set up house. It can help to be clear about your goals – but then what you really need to do is to reverse engineer a series of steps that lead backward from that goal to right where you are RIGHT NOW! And then, now here’s the really important part, TOTALLY FOCUS on the very next step – the one RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU!
The most important two rungs on any ladder are the one you are standing on and the one you are about to step on to – that’s it! The top of the ladder has nothing to do with it. Focus on the where you are right now and the very next step you need to take. This is the secret to overcoming inertia. And inertia is what holds us all back as human beings. As Robert Kiyosaki, author of the Rich Dad, Poor Dad series, once said to me “The thing that keeps the masses in a state of mediocrity is the attitude of Good Enough to Get By.” People seem reluctant, even unable to break free of their tendency to Not Move Forward. Given that is the case, it is of much interest to me as a teacher, to find ways to get people to overcome these tendencies. Identifying and focussing on the very next step, is one of the secret keys to overcoming this common state. Process is everything.
This concept of being fully engaged in the process as opposed to focussing on the end-goal, works the same whether the goal or large or small. Being fully engaged in the task at hand is a natural state for the truly alive human being; it is what we have been genetically hardwired to do for millennia. Sadly, this most basic of human abilities, has been diluted and diminished by the day to day drudgery of modern life and 21st century living. Put yourself out in the wilds for a week, as part of the food chain, and most would be amazed at how quickly it all comes back. When you are crossing a river at the top-end, and there are crocs nearby, it’s amazing at how ‘fully engaged’ you become, at the task at hand. We have been this way, for a long, long, time. But today’s self-help section at Border’s is awash with books that talk about Goal Setting and Making it, etc. I know for one, I am just not hardwired that way.
All this is not new – as the old Chinese proverb goes; ‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step!’ And that step, is ultimately, all that really counts.
Be engaged – be fully engaged!
John B Will 2007
Sunday, June 17, 2007
The human psyche loves a good story.
Story-telling is how, through much of our evolution, information has been passed from one generation to another. We REMEMBER via story-telling; it is one of our most powerful learning mechanisms.
I often use our hard-wired predisposition for remembering a good story, to teach martial arts more effectively.
No matter how good the information, now matter how effective the technique, if the students don’t take ownership of the material we present to them, then it all matters for nothing. Taking ownership of the information we are presented with is fairly important, if we can’t remember those twelve new things we learned at that seminar, or those three new escapes we learned in class, a week or two after the event, then we have pretty much just wasted out time. Taking ownership begins with REMEMBERING; and hence we come back to the idea of story-telling.
One of the methods I use to better facilitate the students ability to remember and retain what they learned in class, is to build a storyline with the techniques I want to teach. A good TRANSITION DRILL is one effective way to do this. I might build a sequence of moves that link together and have them all practice them until they can rep it out with no hesitation; this builds a basic storyline, on top of which I will attach various techniques, variations, etc. When I do this, nearly everyone remembers all the techniques I taught during that session, even a month later, when life and other stuff has gotten in the way.
One of the things I learned pretty early on in my martial arts training is that when we start to ‘collect’ a serious number of techniques/concepts, etc – we will increasingly find it more and more useful to have some structured way of organizing all this material in our minds. This is imperative if you play a coaching role.
So what I like to do when I teach, is to encourage my students to begin organizing the material in structured and logical ways that are meaningful for them; and in a way, that allows them to remember and recall the material easily down the track when it is needed.
Pinning techniques, concepts and principles to a story is a very powerful way to do achieve this. Transition drills are a kind of story in their own right – students will remember strings of techniques better than they will remember individual techniques, Our brains love a good story.
Train Well – Train Smart.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
A combination of jetlag and some wierd variation of the plane-flu has got me up at 4am. A chance to jump on the net and jot down a few thoughts. My recent UK visit, though hectic, was wonderful - the best thing about it was the new set of friends I have made. For me, it's not about Windsor castle or hadrians Wall'; it's about the people we meet on the way.
I have to thank all the extraordinarily postive e-mails I have received from my new UK friends - I will definitely return post christmas.
The morning walk and breakfast I took with Geoff Thompson, has left me thinking ...
Over the years, many people have suggested that I write a book about my experiences in and lessons learned from, the martial arts. It seems that there are a lot of people that become more fully engaged in the training, when I pin the technique or concept I am trying to get across, to a good story. of course, I have always thought, if I did write such a book - I would be guaranteed of a few buyers, namely my mother and some of my students - but Geoff T has suggested otherwise.
It does seem kind of strange talking about one's own life - but I do have to agree with Geoff that mine has been rather extraordinary. He points out that I can simply reach more people with my teaching via a book than I can by flying around doing seminars. I do love the physicality and hands-on experience that the seminars do afford me, so i will not give that up, but the book idea is beginning to make more and more sense.
Back in the day, when I began Blitz Magazine, I had to come up with the title first, before i could go any further. i have always been that way inclined. before I built the house that i live in, i had to go buy a bunch of blocks andf glue then all together to get the shape i wanted before i began on the task of figuring out how to fit everything into it. Seems that's my M.O. I shall ponder a name for my book - once that's squared away - the beginning will have begun.
So thanks Geoff, for giving me that nudge. We all need a nudge now and then - that's for sure. When we do wehat we are mean't to do, the universe gives us nice pats on the back; when we do otherwise, it gives us a Mack truck up the arse. I look forward to many more nice pats!
best wishes all,
Monday, June 11, 2007
Once again at Changi Airport in Singapore on my way home from London. My UK visit was a whirlwind tour for sure - but I met some great people, and as all have asked me to return for more training, I will definitely be trying to schedule another trip into my calendar. next time I will try to make the visit a little less hectic.
Although I will contact everyone individually, I would love to thanks Rich Green, Geoff Thompson, Tony Somers, Matty Evans, Phil Wright, Graham Cook, Ian and Jenni Marshall, Drew Hopkinson, Steve Murkle and Ken and Anne-Marie Pankiewicz for all your wonderful help. I wish I could have spent more time in each city - I absolutely love England.
I have already had a dozen e-mails from people expressing their thanks for the seminars - but seriously, the pleasure was all mine. I havn't answered those e-mails yet as my internet service provider only allows me to accept incoming e-mails whilst on the fly - and doesn't permit outgoing. I will get onto it a day or so after I reach Aussie shores.
best run - according to the airport info centre there is a pool here somewhere - a few quick laps before I board the plane would be good. I am sure I drooled on my own shirt as I slept most of the way from London.
best wishes all,
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
I am sitting here this morning surrounded by centuries of history – I find myself to be completely enthralled.
Yesterday was a full day indeed, training with Rich Green and students, chatting with Geoff Thompson, Tony Somers and the ever-enthusiastic Matty; and eventually kipping down at Coombes Abbey, a sprawling and ancient Manse on the outskirts of Coventry (Midlands – UK).
This morning, Geoff T – turned up not long after dawn, and we took a stroll through surrounding woods for an hour or so, comparing notes on life, the universe and the wonder of all things. Our discourse continued over breakfast in the Abbey Gardens and we vowed to remain more closely connected from our respective sides of an ever- shrinking planet.
I find Geoff to be a remarkable and inspiring human being; someone who has dragged himself up by his own bootstraps from the blood and snot filled world of the Coventry Doorman, to a place where his life revolves around a process self discovery, abundant thinking and selfless generosity. Here is a wonderful example of a man who has discovered within himself, the power of ‘re-invention’. He is now a well-published and prolific writer, a film-maker, a martial arts authority (who has done it all) and by all accounts, an engaged and thoughtful family man. A warrior-poet to the core.
I like him!
What a great start to a great day. Off now to hook up with a few of Geoff’s friends and hit the mat. Tonight promises to be another action packed evening with me holding a seminar for Geoff’s good friend, Tony Somers. Tomorrow is another day, waiting to be fully enjoyed with my trip further North to Manchester.
Apparently Medieval castles do not have wireless internet connections – some interference from the surrounding moat I guess, so I am unsure when I will be able to make this post on my blog. So by the time this hits the ether, the world will have spun a few more times, things will have passed by my field of awareness, and yours – hope you have noticed.
Train well – Train with Eyes Open!
Friday, June 01, 2007
Sitting here in Singapore right now - eating a snack in a cafe that provides free wireless internet access. A quick chance to answer a few e-mails before getting some sleep and resting up for tomorrows seminar. After the weekend here I am on a plane to London, where I have six rounds of seminars throughout the week; taking me from one end of the UK to the other. It promises to be a hectic week ahead, but should be good as i am catching up with some friends and undoubtedly, making some new ones. Nothing like rolling around on a mat to get acquainted with new people.
I love Singapore - it's clean, safe, friendly and easy to negotiate. No bubblegum on the ground - and things really get done! I love a good police state!
Time to take a dip in the pool - hard work, but someone's got to do it.
Take care - train safe.