Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Sunday, October 28, 2012


I'm not a writer. In my own small way, I practice martial arts as a budo. Yet I find many of the articles posted at Steven Pressfield's blog (the author of The Legend of Bagger Vance and Gate of Fire) to be speaking directly to me. Below is an excerpt from a recent post, "Traction." Enjoy. Please pay a visit.


By Steven Pressfield | Published: October 10, 2012

The last two weeks we’ve been talking in these posts about buckling down and hitting a groove. By that I mean finding and achieving a steady, productive, working rhythm.


Traction. It beats brilliance every day.

Nothing gets stuff done like traction. When the rubber grips the road, we can deliver any payload. Long-range. Cross-country. Anywhere.

The opposite of traction is slippage. Spinning our wheels. Starting and stopping. Sputtering.
When we achieve traction, we’re actually accomplishing something.

We’re shooting film, we’re filling blank pages, we’re structuring our new start-up.

For the past two weeks we’ve talked about thinking in blocks of time and saying no. Thinking in blocks of time gives us patience. It sets up the long view. We can say, “It’ll take twelve weeks for pre-production, 39 days of filming, and nineteen weeks of post-production.” We can say that and not freak out. We’re thinking in blocks of time.

Saying no means adopting a No More Mister Nice Guy attitude toward all activities that will pull us away from our objective. Including good things, fun things. We make the decision that our priority is X. Everything that is not-X, unless it’s life and death (or at least really big fun), has to take a number.
The third element is consistency. Habit.

They say at the gym that you have to train in order to train. That’s how traction is achieved. A solid day’s work on Monday makes it easier to do the same Tuesday. A strong week leads to a stronger following week.

You can’t generate traction out of the box. You have to make it the old-fashioned way. You have to earn it.

You earn it by day-after-day consistency of effort.

That’s what my goal is now.


walt said...

"You earn it by day-after-day consistency of effort."

When I began taking Tai Chi lessons, my teacher would tell us, "Miss one day, lose ten days." And it didn't take long before I could sense the truth in this.

When you're working with a teacher, I would think that the traction is inherent in the inter-action and relationship. When practicing solo, or attempting to learn on one's own, it becomes trickier -- slippery, as Pressfield mentions. Then being proactive, and really bringing something each day to the practice, becomes crucial.

Thinking in boxes is an interesting tool. I refer to them as (time)"frames." Sometimes they make me feel "boxed-in," but they do create specific spaces-in-my-day so that I can practice without interruption.

Nice fare for a Sunday, Rick!

Rick Matz said...

Thanks, Walt. It's the sort of exhortation I need, especially on a Sunday.

RunBikeThrow said...

A very timely post for me to read. November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and my goal is to write a novel of at least 50,000 words from Nov. 1-30. If ever I needed traction, it will be these upcoming 30 days.

"Saying no" will be a challenge, as I will also be training for my Kyu test and my 5K speed goal. If I have to drop one goal, I wonder what it will be.

Rick Matz said...

You'll have time enough to rest when you're dead. - Kushida Sensei

Zacky Chan said...

Great thought! I've been having similar thoughts on this idea, but never really thought of using the word traction. Traction allows us to actually make real progress ... Good stuff.

Rick Matz said...

Pressfield writes a lot about writing. Much of it is applicable to what we do