Category Archives: Failure

Four-Letter Words

(The 3rd of a Series)

Previously I asked the question “Who Owns You?” After all, if I’m not in control of my own thoughts and actions, then who is? Once I’ve established that I “need” to own up to the decisions and actions that I’ve made and taken, the next question is, “How do I get control of myself?” These are the types of questions and answers we delve into at the White Tiger Dojo.

In Japanese, the word dojo means way place. In other words, it’s a location where you study a way of being. A way of being starts with one’s habits. Understanding how good habits are created and how to remove and replace bad ones are two of the most important lessons any house of learning can engage in. However, one of the hardest parts about creating good habits is discovering that what I find to be “true” is often what I “fear”.

The word true means something that is in accordance with reality. Reality can be fearful. One of the habits I’ve developed over time is to be “open” with myself in order to compare it to reality. When I am open with myself, I find that the answers I’m looking for are not nearly as elusive as my mind would like them to be.

Finding the truth is about me uncovering my own biased habits so that I may clearly find the answer that I need rather than the one I “want”. The answers I want are more easily attained, because it’s based off of previous bad habits or biases. This is the epitome of being intellectually “lazy”.

What I want often takes precedence over what I need precisely because a want is intellectually lazy. I need to stay healthy and financially solvent, but I want to be lazy and independently wealthy. Staying healthy takes “work”. Going to a job and earning a living takes work. It also takes “guts” to do the work and it takes guts to work through the fear of failure.

“Hard” work is the true “path” of the independent person.

Owning who I am takes continual effort, especially when I’m owning up to the dumb things I’ve done and will do. Where at first it felt daunting, uncomfortable and even inconvenient, it eventually becomes routine maintenance like brushing my teeth.

In the end, owning up to the good and bad parts of myself is what allows for positive change and self-acceptance. I take greater care in my decision making process when I hold myself accountable for all of the joy and/or suffering I bring upon myself and those around me. I’m not perfect nor will I ever be, but making the conscious choice to be the “best” version of me is the only way to honor those who showed me the path to becoming “free”.


Failing is Natural, Giving Up Should Not Be

I’m a big fan of TED talks, and recently watched one by Adam Grant called “The Surprising Habits of Original Thinkers”, a talk on ‘original thinkers’. What inspires the most with talks like these, is that every attempt to climb up the so-called ‘mountain of success’ is always fraught with the possibility of failure.

I often use the following metaphor whenever I explain the essence of martial arts study to a new student: Martial arts is the art of swimming in a sea of failure in search of the shores of success. The simple act of choosing to swim in this sea of failure is a good sign that a student wants to change themselves for the better.

Once a student accepts adversity as a tool to help shape their character, they quickly find pride in grinding off their ‘rough edges’ of instant gratification and expectation in favor of sharpening their intellectual and physical ‘edges’ with perseverance and patience.

The seesawing nature of failure and success soon becomes a normal part of life. Where certain adversity would sideline many, now both adversity and failure are used to fuel students’ motivations and act as a foundation from which dreams of success are built.