Archive for the Motivation 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!

What’s next?

Posted in Motivation on July 1, 2010 by dougautenrieth

I love my job.  I just finished a coaching call with a client of mine (he’s a wealth manager handling tax and investment matters) who has made a profound shift in his life.  He shared with me a story about approaching a very significant investor to invite the client to come and talk with him about his retirement portfolio.  My client was very happy with himself for doing that and it was something he expected to do more often in the future.

I asked my client what shift he had made that had allowed him to do that.  He struggled with the labeling on that shift.  Sometimes it can be difficult to put our fingers on what exactly has changed in our awareness or in our mental makeup that has enabled a new way of being for ourselves.  Doing so and giving that shift a name can help it stick and make it more lasting.  He talked me through what was different and the response was rather lengthy.  In essence, he was thinking out loud.  The description was wordy and useful in terms of processing for him, but it didn’t create clarity for either of us.  Finally, I asked him to put it in a nutshell of 8 words or less to define the shift.  His answer:  “I’m not judging myself anymore.”

What a relief that was!  Once he said that, there was the kind of giddy laughter that comes from a huge release of pressure.  The man was experiencing a new sense of freedom and I was thrilled to be there to see it happen.  What’s next for him, I wonder?  He plans to follow up on opportunities much more than he ever has.  I suspect that will only be the beginning point to what happens for him as a result of this new shift of not judging himself anymore.

So, I wonder…  What has happened for you when you’ve let go of judging yourself?  And, if judgment still has a strong hold on your life, what do you think might happen for you if you were to stop judging yourself?

What’s next?