Have you ever had your mind set on a goal? Shedding a few extra pounds? Perhaps a “personal best” for the gym goers? Or maybe something less measurable like better relationships? Given that we are only a week and a half into 2022, it’s not a stretch of the imagination that many of us have set our eyes on a goal that results in a personal change. Like some of you no doubt, I myself have committed to a more disciplined routine involving cold showers, daily reading, daily blogging, language practice and guitar.
Have I been perfect since starting out? Hardly.. There have been days where sleep supersedes my need to be obsessive about each and every detail. Is this ideal or acceptable? No, not by my standard, but I can say that my aim to meet these goals has resulted in overall positive improvement. So it is up to me to keep chugging along in the same direction. But why, you might ask. Why not set a more realistic, achievable goal? Because it’s not about achieving a goal, it’s about the process and how pursuit of perfection can mold us into better humans.
I suspect that the idea of “perfection” itself is what prevents many from continuing to pursue their goals. We all know someone who started a diet and quit a couple days later. But was it actually too hard for them or did they slip up a few times before throwing in the towel? My estimation is that if they had acknowledged our human tendency to err and pressed on, the result would be an overall positive improvement. In athletics an average athlete who is on the field for every game is far more impactful than the star athlete who misses half the games. In the long run, consistency always wins.
The reality is that in Jiu Jitsu, just as in life, there are times when ugly gets it done. Sometimes you sink a choke that is less than ideal but you give it your all in order to achieve the win. Does it have to be pretty? Not at all. “A win is a win as the saying goes”. On the same note, while in competition success is often viewed as your hand being raised, improvement over time can also be a success. This way of thinking stems from what the Japanese refer to as“Kaizen”. A model for “continuous improvement over time” used widely in large organizations for its notable effectiveness.
Success is often seen as a destination rather than a process. Everyone wants to win the trophy or get their black belt. What can be overlooked by many, is that the most defining aspect of this process is the journey to becoming great. The process is what builds your character, the struggle of developing good habits, the ever present challenge of developing one’s discipline. In Martial Arts this is referred to as Bushido “the way of the warrior”. What I find important to discern is that “the path” is the path for each individual and there is no road alike although they all lead to the same place “self improvement”.