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 ~

Monday, January 28, 2013

Adversity and Commitment

I'm a believer that we have the time and resources to do whatever it is we want to do. Obstacles serve to help us distinguish between what we only think we want to do from what we really want to do.

Steven Pressfied, the author of The Legend of Bagger Vance, Gate of Fire and many other fine books has written about this. While his article is directed at writers, I think it is every bit as applicable to those of us who study martial arts.

An excerpt is below. The full article may be read here.

How Pro Are You?

By Steven Pressfield | Published: December 12, 2012

The question is, “What’s the main difference between a pro and an amateur?”

My answer: depth of commitment.

I’ve always wanted to meditate. But my depth of commitment is unbelievably shallow. I can’t count my breaths past twenty. And pain in the knees? At the first twinge I’m up and outa there. It’s pathetic. I’m ashamed of myself. I’m an amateur. I will never succeed on my meditation cushion, and I don’t deserve to.

I lack depth of commitment.

One way to measure depth of commitment is to ask yourself of any calling, “How much adversity am I willing to endure to pursue it?”

Can you stand being broke? Can you live in a garret? Are you willing to work through pain—emotional, psychological, spiritual? Can you weather doubt, fear, despair?

The artist or entrepreneur must be like the hero of a movie. He has to be the protagonist of his own life, meaning be willing to pursue his objective (rescue his daughter from kidnappers, save the earth from vampires, kill Osama bin Laden) to the ends of the earth and then catch a ride on a rocket and keep on pursuing.


The Strongest Karate said...

Commitment....In the context of this article it means going "all in", whether its athletics or any other endeavor. And this is something I've never done.

While it has allowed me to become well rounded, versatile, and adaptive in my life, it has also caused me frustration in that I know I can do better in each of my areas of interest IF I ONLY COMMITTED.

Paul said...

It is certainly much easier (in terms of "betting it all" and the risk factor etc) to be a professional accountant than a decent career writer who can (just) make a living out of their writing. We all have our choices...

Rick Matz said...

The “Anti Fragile” answer is to be the accountant for security and write passionately outside of work.

Being a martial arts teacher and running a school is a very risky proposition. I know one teacher who made some excellent “Anti Fragile” choices to allow him to pursue his love of martial arts.

He became a fireman. When he works, it’s usually a 12 or 24 hour shift. It works out that he puts in an average of 10 – 24 hour days and has the rest of his time for himself. He makes a living salary, and has excellent benefits and a retirement plan. All of this allows him to lower the bar significantly for what he needs his school to draw. He already has his living. He just needs to cover his rent and utilities. Anything else is gravy.

When he is at work, he has a senior student lead the class working on their testing techniques for their upcoming examinations.

Compass Architect said...

Amateurs promise. Professionals commit.
Chicken lays a egg, it can be described as a promise. Cow turns into steak, that is a commitment.

Rick Matz said...

That's true!