Walt Disney had the confidence when nobody else did to risk it all on building a crazy concept called a theme park. This was Walt’s big, crazy, not-for-him dream. Walt would gauge the value of an idea by how many successive “no’s” or negative comments he received when sharing his idea. When he had 10 responses pointing to a no, he would immediately green light the project!
The challenge that 95% of my clients face is that they know what they want, but have a hard time focusing on all the action steps to get them there. It can be extremely hard to keep a long term focus amidst the daily diversions and distractions that surround you all the time.
How many times have you started out working towards your big, crazy, not-for-you goal with high energy only to get frustrated and give up sooner than you know you should have?
In a moment, I’ll share with you a samurai secret to accomplishing your goals. But first, a scary story to share with you…
I Quit Just Like You Did
(but it didn’t stop me)
Nineteen years ago, I had a big crazy goal to become a martial artist. Not just any martial artist, but a Black Belt martial artist. This seemed like a cool and exciting goal. In my mind I knew all my friends and family would be mesmerized by an out-of-shape, overweight guy (I was 210lbs) becoming a “Black Belt”. After some investigation, I joined a local Aikido Dojo and began training.
About 3 weeks into the training, things were going well. That’s when I started telling family and friends what I was up to. Big mistake (I hope you see the lesson here).
Some of the people I told outright laughed at me. Some had a weird expression on their face. A few came out and said, “you? … no way man”. Even my then girlfriend laughed herself hysterically onto the floor at the idea.
I continued on until one day I had to start learning how to roll and fall in the dojo. This is the hardest part of the initial training. Falling is there to save your life so that you can take bone crushing throws from 5 feet in the air, and still get up and walk away without a bruise or scratch.
That is when I quit.
I gave up and threw in the towel because I thought, “I’ll never be like all those other students and black belts”. By quitting I made all my critics right.
But then something changed…
I simply decided that I was going to do this and make all my critics wrong by becoming a Black Belt.
I called my Sensei up after quitting and asked if I could come back. We had a long talk and he agreed to take me back as long as I would not give up on myself and just come to the dojo and train. I agreed.
The Secret to Samurai Focus Hit Me
Your path to achieving your big crazy, not-for-you goal will get hard at times. Just like you, I hit the wall of discouragement. In that moment, I asked myself how on earth would I keep my commitment to Sensei and get my black belt. My bruises, sore legs, and weak back left me feeling like a train hit me. Then I got it.
I realized that I was thinking too long term and too big for my mind. The solution: show up one class at a time!
One Practice at a Time
On average it takes a student 767 practices before they are ready for the Black Belt test.
One thing to note is that a student gets credit for one practice day versus so many hours of practice time. If a student shows up for 30 minutes of practice, they get one practice day’s credit towards their next rank. If they practice for 2-3 hours, it still counts as one practice day’s credit.
The key lesson here is that what matters most is the consistency of being in the dojo which puts you in the right mindset. The Dojo is a place where you surround yourself with other people who can help you achieve your goals because everyone comes to the dojo with different goals and expectations.
Regardless of where you are, the practice and showing up is what counts most.
3 Mindsets of Samurai Focus
Before you take on the work of any goal, you can get there faster by setting your mind right before you practice. Remember “practice” is whatever tasks you need to do to get you to where you want to be. First ask yourself this critical question because the answer will determine your outcome for the day:
Practice Like You Never Have Before
1. The Show Up Practice – When you start at one level, by purely showing up, you have the chance to move into the next level. It’s in that daily mystery of awkwardness that all the initial growth occurs. You never know when the day you just show up is the day the technique you’ve been working on for years just clicks! Now you own it forever. But you lose the opportunity and magic of it happening if you don’t show up.
Show up days are when you celebrate the fact you showed up, did some work and didn’t give up that day. That’s worth a lot to your confidence.
2. Regular or Natural Practice – Natural practice is required to create consistency and build enduring perseverance and confidence. In these practice days, you learn about yourself and have a chance to determine direction and build confidence knowing that you are heading in the right direction for you¬ and that it’s worthwhile. You celebrate yet another practice towards your next rank. After this practice, you are closer than you think
3. Accelerated Practice – These days come as the result of many Show up and Natural practices. This is the practice session where you go in with the mindset that you’re going to do it better today than you ever have before. Some people may say they will “crush it”, “go all out” or a hundred other inspiring sayings.
In martial training, it might mean practicing for supreme speed, strength, stamina or volume of repetitions. You work towards blowing past your personal best. Each repetition locks in the techniques and allows you to leap to a higher level of growth and satisfaction.
But you can’t practice here forever. This practice is vigorous & strenuous. This is why you will revert back to more Show up or Natural Practice days.
Failure Strikes When You’re Not Practicing
When I first started training in Aikido, I missed many early Sunday morning classes because I was out late the night before. Then I realized that being late is better than not showing up at all. But on the days you do show up on time, you need to know what training mood and mindset you are in. It’s even better to communicate this with the people you are training with so they can support you and train with you in the best way.
If you are serious about achieving your goals, this means cutting through the excuses you tell yourself as to why your big, crazy, not-for-you goal is only reserved for other special people.
Start showing up, even if you are a little late. After a while the momentum you gain will help you put more check marks in the win column versus the loss column.
Focus Like a Samurai Today
Focus takes an initial intention followed by consistent practice. This process will help you raise your focus today, tomorrow and in the coming weeks to help you reach your destination twice as fast with half the effort. Answer these questions to help you get into a black belt mindset.
What big, crazy, not-for-you goal do you want to reach?
When do you want to reach it?
How many practices are required to get you there?
How many practices have you accumulated up to today?
Identify what it means for you in each practice to:
Show up / Naturally Practice / Accelerate Practice
Pick one style of practice for today and get going. You will feel much stronger and more powerful after your next practice because you are one step closer to where you want to be and one step farther from where you came.
After about five years of consistent practice, my Sensei presented me with my first Black Belt. The feeling of that moment was amazing. It was a moment of celebration and championship victory over myself, one practice at a time.
Your victory is waiting for you when you stick with training one practice at a time. This approach will end your procrastination, silence the noise and distractions while helping you build amazing focus and drive.
You will achieve your big, crazy, not-for-you goal with Samurai Focus, faster than you ever thought possible for you.