Another year - another lap around the sun.
I am sitting in my chair, in my house, with my family - waiting out the last hour before we watch the midnight fireworks. I am also aware that my home is squared away in a nice part of Geelong - in the state of Victoria, in the southern part of the continent known as Australia. Australia, I also realise, is a great part of this spinning globe we call 'earth'; itself taking up the third orbital path around the sun we call sol. Sol, so I am told by those who understand better than I - is a relatively small and typical solar body, residing in the outer reaches of a Galaxy we call the Milky Way, that contains 200 billion odd other suns. Our Galaxy, is only one of hundreds of billions of galaxies in this reality we call the universe - and quantum physicists will tell you that a strong possibility exists, that for all practical (or impractical) purposes, there may well be an infinite number of universes.
When I was a youngster, my father painted a dymaxion skymap of the world on our lounge room wall - he was always one for seeing the 'big picture' I guess. I like to think that I inherited some small part of his very interesting way of looking at the world and the way in which he lived his life in it. Each of us have an unknown amount of time left to live, love and adventure on this small spinning marble before we shuffle off at journey's end. I wish you all the happiest and most fulfilling of adventures. Don't be hypnotized by the mundane - go hard. JBW
When we are presented with strong excuses to forgo good habits - this is when we see the exceptional make their split from the rest.
It's christmas - and we are faced with mountains of unhealthy food and an opportunity to stop training for a bit. But these are still 'choices'.
When we choose, we choose for now and we choose for later; and it's usually easier to make those choices based on what we would like right now as opposed to an, as yet unrealised consequence, that may, or may not, manifest at a later date. We are so very fortunate in that we have more choice available to us than most of the inhabitants of this spinning globe - but remember, when we choose - we choose for now and we choose for later.
I ate more than my share these past few days - so now, I am off to do some training - and try to bring balance to the equation for vital living.
This is the key to my most commonly utilized problem-solving strategy.
We have a tendency to always look for a quick and often dynamic solution to any given problem. The reason for this can be traced to our life as hunter-gatherers – when we often didn't have the luxury of being able to ‘ponder’ a problem over a cup of tea; to increase our chances for survival in difficult situations, our brains needed to ‘gulp’ down all the information available in a split second, and come up with a rapid solution – that hopefully kept us alive long enough to tell the story at a later date. My own observation is that we still, to a large degree, react to emergencies (read: problems) much the same way.
BJJ example: Stuck under side control – we ask ourselves – ‘can we escape?’ and we put in one large effort, and then get the answer – ‘No!’ we cannot escape.
SWAMP example: Neck deep in the quagmire, we ask ‘can we get out? – answer again – NO!
FINANCIAL example: $100K in bad debt – we ask, can we fix this? – answer again – No!
RELATIONSHIP example: Bad partnership – we ask – can we make this work? – answer again – No!’
Of course the answer is so very often No – because it did after all, take time for the particular problem to fully evolve.
The real hiccup is this … in each of the above examples, we have asked the wrong question. The question should have been this – ‘Can we improve our situation by 5%? The answer to that question would probably have come back a resounding – Yes!
If you want to rip a sweater in half – you don’t want to try to grab it in one large bunch and pull it apart – instead, you want to find the thread, that once pulled, begins unraveling the whole thing. There is almost always a thread – it is just a matter of finding it, and then focusing on it.
Last thing to consider – and this goes unnoticed by almost everyone – if we have proven that we cannot notice small erosions in our situation (eg: gaining weight – bit by bit, over time – before finally asking one day ‘how did I get 40Kg overweight?) – then we have proven that we probably are incapable of noticing small improvements in our situations as well. So when we lose 1kg – we look in the mirror, fail to notice the improvement and so give up on our efforts. Getting people to notice their small incremental improvements is a very important part of high-level coaching/teaching.
So don’t try to solve large problems in their entirety – instead, try to find the small thread that, once pulled, will start to unravel the whole thing. And secondly, once you start pulling that thread, notice that you are indeed, getting somewhere.
There you go – that’s my Finding the Thread problem solving strategy – I hope you find it helpful. Best wishes: JBW
This is an old-school concept – that so very often, is missing on many a martial arts mat. I do see it’s opposite every now and then; some higher rank ‘munter’, who is all about himself, and who doesn’t spare a thought about his training partner. To compound matters, our overly self-involved munter is also likely to be found paying only cursory interest (seemingly under sufferance) to what the instructor is talking about – presumably because he doesn’t want his peers and lesser mortals to think that he could possibly learn something new – as of course, he has seen it all before.
Most schools have had the odd munter in their midst at one time or another – but usually, the munter (such a good word) doesn't last long and leaves for other pastures – pastures where he is given the respect he is due. But every now and then, the munter sticks around and achieves high rank – usually because there is some kind of pay-off for him; and this is when it turns into a bit of a problem. It is a problem for three main reasons; firstly, because he doesn't care about others, he injures others who are there to learn, grow and improve – sometimes causing them to seek other pastures. Bad! Secondly, he sets a bad example; a bad ‘tone’ that other, more malleable students may start to emulate; one bad apple can spoil a whole box-full. And thirdly, he can place an unwarranted level of demand on the teacher; who can be fooled into giving the munter extra attention thereby taking his focus away from the more-deserving students.
I have a simple strategy for dealing with munterism; I ignore them. If they demonstrate a corrosive effect on the class or the culture of the school – which they usually do – I ask them to leave.
Get rid of one munter and the students, the culture and the school will flourish. The higher the munter’s rank; the more important it becomes to deal with him. I always advise school-owners to cull their student-base of all munters; and then sit back and watch the school grow! JBW
I think that to a large degree, we have lost touch with our ability to NOTICE things. The world we live in, with busy routines, endless media intrusions, technology, etc, just isn’t all that conducive to the habit of NOTICING things in our environment. 10,000 years ago, in hunter-gathering mode, I bet we would have been awesome NOTICING MACHINES. We would have had to be – our survival would have depended on it. Nowadays though, we don’t need to Notice all that much, and we can still get by quite nicely. So we don’t notice, when we put on a few extra kilos, we don’t notice when small erosions begin occurring in the landscapes of our lives – then one day we look up and ask ‘wow, how did I get so overweight? How did I lose all that money? How did my relationship become so bad? It all starts with small erosions – erosions that we fail to notice – when it would have been easy to do something about it.
The flip side of this coin is that we also tend not to notice the small gains we make; the small improvements (in performance, etc) So then we tend to become discouraged, and perhaps make a change in direction – when all we need to do was keep going!
Our inability to notice small changes can really bring us undone. This is why many people stop their martial arts training – they fail to notice that they are actually making great gains; for exactly the same reason that they fail to take notice of the small erosions in their lives. Failing to notice – that’s the Achilles heel of us all.
Yes – it’s true, I can. I predict the sunrise tomorrow, whether or not I am here to see it. I predict the tide will come in and go out again, etc. So yes, many things are predictable but many again, are not. But this is not enough of a reason to just ‘go with the flow’ on absolutely everything. We all may be likened to leaves floating in the current of life; the predictable part is the direction in which the river is flowing, the unpredictable part is what lies in wait just around the corner … but you can float along if you like – and enjoy the scenery, or you can paddle hard every now and then and take some control over the path you take. Paddle and cruise – paddle and cruise – knowing when to do which, now that is the trick worth learning: JBW
Eating blowfish, by all accounts, can be a delicious experience – but if, for some reason, it is not prepared JUST RIGHT, the experience can be anything but delicious – it can be deadly. The same process, albeit it a more benign version, is at play when we learn things …
There are certain techniques that if not executed technically, can result in a worsening of our situation. Ie: we try the new technique, do not execute it correctly, and we suffer as a result. Now that’s not so bad in and of itself, but our natural and instinctive reaction to that ‘failure’ is the real killer. When we pay a big price for failing at a technique (or most other things for that matter) we tend to shy away from trying it again – and we suffer the effects of a Blowfish experience.
Not all techniques are Blowfish techniques – try a figure four armlock from the mount –and if it doesn't work, no biggie! But try headlock control, and if you are missing a few fundamental and vital nuances, you will end up with your opponent playing the role of a human backpack. It’s just important to know which techniques are of the Blowfish variety.
The best tip is this: gain intimate and deep knowledge of every technique you do – develop the habit of technical excellence. Prepare that Blowfish well: JBW