There are many things that separate an excellent student from a good one. They may demonstrate the same quality of technique, the same power. But what separates one from the other is both simple and complex: attitude.
Having a good attitude does not guarantee success. But it is undeniably a component of that success. Having a positive attitude can be what keeps you from becoming defeated if you don’t succeed at the beginning.
“From one of my favorite novels comes one of my favorite quotes or ideas. ‘Focus on the solution not the problem,’” said second-degree Black Belt Cyndl Hale. “If you only focus on the problem you end up missing what it is you can do to make things better.”
Part of a positive attitude is having confidence, something that can be hard to maintain. “Part of it is the fear of not doing things correctly,” said Pete Kingsley, third-degree Black Belt. To combat that, his goals focus on best effort and improvement. “These are fluid and manageable goals that always permit forward progress, no matter how experienced a martial artist you are.”
Every testing cycle, students at purple belt and above must choose a board break technique for testing. Often, students work for weeks on a technique only to be faced with frustration when it doesn’t succeed. “It is good to keep in mind that even if you don’t get it you’ve only discovered one way that it doesn’t work, there are other things you should try next time,” said Ms. Hale.
Sometimes, life throws you a curve. Your attitude can make a huge difference. When fourth-degree Black Belt Karyn Graff needed knee surgery she could have become depressed. Instead she kept a positive attitude. “I don’t sit around thinking about how awful it is that I can’t do a jump reverse side kick,” she said. “I think about how awesome it is that I can ride a stationary bike for 45 minutes.”
It’s important to remember that a positive attitude takes time and practice; it doesn’t happen overnight. “Patience is key–not all problems can be overcome in an instant,” said fourth-degree Black Belt Scott Weston. “Break it down into smaller parts–what you can do well, and what needs work.”
A positive attitude is what enables us to turn what could be a disappointing tournament finish or paper grade into a learning experience that can lead to success. “I believe that every life challenge is an opportunity for self improvement,” said Mrs. Graff.
It’s something that the late Randy Pausch, computer science professor at CMU, believed whole-heartedly – that sometimes our failures are more important than our successes, if we remember to keep the right attitude. “Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted. And experience is often the most valuable thing you have to offer.”
Article by Mary Sutton. Mary Sutton is the mother of two Oakmont Martial Arts students (Mary and Michael) a student herself, and a freelance writer. See more of her writing at www.MarySuttonAuthor.com.