Remember, success is a journey, not a destination.
I’m not the first person to muse over the nature of success and I certainly won’t be the last. Most people find a feeling of success elusive at best. But it isn’t White Belts who don’t feel successful, more often it’s Black Belts. If, after years and years of study, a student still doesn’t feel successful how will they ever feel successful? The answer, of course, is that they won’t.
When a Black Belt doesn’t feel successful it is because they are operating within the wrong framework: They expect a certain — undefinable and unachievable — level of accomplishment to make them feel successful. However, despite their admirable dedication to this fruitless quest they never quite make it there because there keeps moving.
Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal or ideal.
Enter Earl Nightingale — and Bruce Lee. That Black Belt who doesn’t feel successful is suffering from a fixation on the destination, rather than the journey. And that makes all the difference.
Destinations are static and must be defined in advance. They have the risk of being set too low or too high. If at some point you decide that you would like to become a Black Belt in the next five years most people will pat you on the back and tell you to get on your way. But what if that isn’t realistic for you? Are you ashamed of your weak performance relative to your goal? What if halfway there you realize that you would rather become something different? Have you given up on your goal or have your found a new one? Are you rationalizing giving up or moving toward something that is more important to you?
And those are just the problems you encounter on your way there. What if you get 95% of the way there but don’t quite make it — or make it a year late? Are you still successful? What if you become a Black Belt but could have become something more, so in fact you sold yourself short. Are you successful then? What if the Black Belt goal was perfect for you and you hit it right on the head. So you’re successful. What are you ten minutes after the party is over? Are you still successful? How long does it take to wear off?
The problems with defining success as a predetermined destination are many — though most people continue to treat it that way.
You are not successful because your achieved your goal — you are successful because you are working towards it.
So aim high. Don’t aim to become a Black Belt — aim to be the best martial artist that you can. Don’t aim to get a promotion — aim to excel in all facets of your chosen vocation. Don’t aim to get a good grade — aim to learn as much as you possibly can.
Now pick a goal and get to work.
Sensei, Master, etc