My teacher and I were discussing this quote after my private lesson last week. Later that day, I saw the meme above. After that, I read a couple of chapters of a Bhodi Sanders book that addressed a similar subject. This topic was drilled into my head this week.
It is important to develop yourself in all things in which you want to be great. Whether it is martial arts, your career or even your relationships, you need to work hard, because your talent alone won’t carry you through. You need to work hard if you want to succeed.
Working hard also means working smart: Physical training, mental training, reading and taking classes. We have discussed this in earlier articles. If you want to be great, you need to work hard but work hard in the right direction. If you practice a move incorrectly and you work really hard, you will still not be great. Moving in the wrong direction is worse than having great talent but doing nothing with it. Working hard in the right direction beats talent.
To have this hard/smart work balance you need to balance your practice, learning and dedication. Just as a shark needs to keep swimming to live, you need to keep learning to excel. If you stand still, stop training, stop learning; your skills will degrade. There is no status quo. You either grow or you whither. It does not matter how talented you are.
If you do not grow, you whither.
Even if nothing else in your life changes, if you do not grow, you start falling back. It is like the story of canoeing up river. The second you stop rowing you start losing ground. This is further complicated because your environment does change, your body changes and your perspective changes. We all age, the world changes and as you grow or fall behind, how you see the world changes.
It is amazing the difference working hard can make. I know two over forty martial artists that are both black belts in the same system and have trained for a similar number of years and are equally healthy. One works hard at their martial arts, one has stopped working hard. The difference in their abilities are staggering. The one who works hard can keep up in even the most rigorous classes, the one who does not work hard can execute the techniques but not in a physically challenging environment.
The over forty crew is the best example for the hard work experiment because when you reach a certain age, there is no off season. As we age, the river gets faster and our canoe gets dragged farther down river when we stop rowing. The good news is that when we do fall back, we can start rowing again.
There is no status quo. You change and the world changes. If you do not keep up, you will fall behind. Attack all things in life with the same dedication and intensity. Keep learning about your job, your martial arts and anything else you find important in your life. Keep working toward your goals and you will be successful.