Archive for the Discipline Category

Just train…

Posted in Discipline, Learning, Motivation, Training on June 28, 2011 by dougautenrieth

Ten years is a great equalizer. 

I find that students who are new to training in kung fu (read: people who are approaching something new and are unfamiliar with its process) are often caught between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, they are excited to learn and grow in this new activity. On another hand, they quickly discover that it is harder than it looks in one way or another and are unsure if they’ll be able to “get it.”  What they don’t realize is that everyone who has gotten anywhere in a challenging pursuit has faced this concern.  Discovering difficulty on the way to distinction is as common as discovering sand on the earth. Whether one looks in a desert or at the bottom of the sea, this is one sandy planet.  On the other hand, it’s a fairly lush planet overall, too. 

Advancement in kung fu (translation: developing any skill that comes from consistent hard work) comes not overnight, but rather over the course of months, weeks, and years. In fact a short term view in martial arts is a rather inadequate means of measuring time.  Now and then, a new student or someone visiting the school will ask the question, “How long does it take to make it to Black Belt?” The answer is always the same. “That depends on how much you’re willing to work.”  The first small changes seem to appear after a hundred days; the first significant changes after a thousand.

Some students start with more aptitude than others; some with less. Some have more patience; some less. Some have more flexibility; some less.  Some are stronger. Some are larger. Some have a longer reach. Some have a lower center of gravity.  Some have a compelling desire or a great need to learn to defend themselves while some have no idea why their parents have placed them in the class or why they are training in the first place.  But this only seems to matter most at the beginning.  Over time, these apparent differences become less problematic and more opportunistic.

Impatience can pay off as a beginner’s tool that drives a student to learn and look for more – and the rough edges will be worn off over time. The stiff body type will gain some flexibility and has the potential to become practically immoveable once it has developed true strength and not just inflexible muscle.  The so-called weaker or smaller individual will, by necessity, develop greater speed, attention to detail, and more accurate technique than his or her stronger and larger training partners.  And, the ones who seemed to struggle the most when learning something new also seem to be the ones who tend to keep what they learn because they value it so highly.  After a decade of training, they will all find that their own unique strengths and talents have been honed to much higher degrees than they originally thought possible and their weaker areas have been strengthened significantly.  They only need to wait and see. 

Decades will show greater changes than years and far more than mere months of training.  It may be best to consider that time is most accurately measured in kung fu over the course of lifetimes.  Just train.

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“Have a plan and work your plan.”

Posted in Discipline, Motivation on June 14, 2011 by dougautenrieth

“Have a plan and work your plan.” I first heard those words from a manager at Merrill Lynch in 1996. Following that advice, I stayed in the investment services game for three years, beating the statistic that there is an 80% failure rate in the first two years. Continuing to follow that advice, I moved out of the financial services game after three years to pursue my life’s work as an executive coach and kung fu teacher. “My plan” was never to spend my life in the investment services industry, but it was a great place to learn, grow, and develop for a few years.

I’ve learned over time that there are many ways to plan for the use of our time and many ways to go about working the plan. Time blocking has always worked best for me. I block time for a category of activities like handling admin or making sales calls and then, during that time block, I only do those activities. At least that’s the plan.

But, how much time do I put in each block?  The answer: It depends. It depends on the overall needs of my business and, to a certain extent, on what I feel particularly inspired to do. There has to be an element of discipline involved or it’s just impulse power driving the ship. Putting at least a small chunk of time into the activities I’m not inspired to deal with keeps me moving in the right direction and connected to those projects I’d rather avoid completely.

Today’s time blocking model: I have my concept of an ideal day and I’m cycling through those blocks in 20 minute chunks. Here’s the list: Early Training, Writing, Garage/Clutter Clearing, Language (studying Mandarin), Admin, Coaching, Midday Training, Lunch/Nap, Sales Follow Up, Reading, Marketing, Teaching Kung Fu, and Family Time. That’s a lot of activities in the course of the day, but that’s what I need to stay in balance RIGHT NOW. It’s not a perfect 20-minute-per-activity cycle, but most of it can work pretty well on that plan. I could just as easily give an hour to this, 20 minutes to that, and two hours to another thing, but I just didn’t feel like being that crafty with the plan of the day today.

The important thing is to be in motion, knocking down high reward activities throughout the day rather than chasing down barking dogs. Barking dogs are what I call all the time stealers like constant email conversations, excessive video games, and surfing to the end of the internet and back. Have you noticed how many time thieves are disguised as technological advancements today? I’ll admit that I love them all. I just try to manage how much and how often I partake of the bits and bytes of techno-fun on my way to handling substantial activities in the world.

That’s it for this blog entry… My 20 minutes of writing time just expired. Go forth and do great things!

Connect

Posted in Discipline, Life on December 28, 2010 by dougautenrieth

Question on Facebook:
How do you find peace when you are scared: do you have a mantra, prayer, process, technique? Please share…

My response:
Physically: connect to your breathing and focus on the sensation of air coming in and going out. Relax your body and release tension. Keep it simple. Mentally: connect with the present moment. The thing you fear is in the future and has not come to pass. Spiritually: connect with gratitude in the knowledge that everything that happens is ultimately the best possible thing that can happen for you whether you can perceive the benefit immediately or not.

The key word in all of this is “connect.”  Be still. And, know that you are whole.

Be aware of your values…

Posted in Discipline on September 16, 2010 by dougautenrieth

BE AWARE OF YOUR VALUES – THEY DRIVE YOUR DECISIONS…

“When the values are clear, the decisions are easy.”
– Roy Disney

Whatever we hold most dear becomes a magnet that pulls us forward into our decisions.

Do you value Creativity and Possibility?
Decisiveness and Assertiveness? 
Courtesy? Harmony? Conviction? Duty?
Learning? Productivity?
Exploration?

Know what you value. 
Let others know what you value.

How easy do you want decision making to be?

Practice…

Posted in Discipline, Training on August 9, 2010 by dougautenrieth

Classes are finished for the day. I am reminded that there are more variations on stretching techniques than there will ever be time to practice consistently. Then again, this is true of technique variations of all kinds. Hand techniques, foot techniques, weapons techniques, chin na, shuai jiao… Even movements within forms can have many correct variations.

Since there will never be enough time to practice everything all the time, it becomes more and more important to practice specific things daily for the cumulative effect of repetition over time. Those things must be chosen wisely to strengthen points of talent, to round out rough edges in the training, and to buff up weak points of technique or poor understanding of difficult concepts.

Choose carefully and train every day.