A black belt is a white belt that never quit, according to the popular saying.
But how do we get there?
Do The Work
I could just end this post there.
Do the work.
Those are the only three words needed. You’ve got to do the work to get to black belt.
But in the interest of explanation, I want to delve a little bit further.
I work in marketing for a relatively young company that is striving to attain a certain goal this year. This goal, though not impossible, will be difficult to achieve unless everybody is doing their part on the team. In other words, doing the work. Our CEO bought us a book called, coincidentally enough, Do The Work!, in which he hoped to inspire us to dig in for a long next several months in order to reap the benefits later on.
“Great story, Mr. Bockler,” you’re saying yourself. “But what does this mean to me as a martial artist?”
You Must Conquer Resistance
In order to do the work, author Steven Pressfield talks throughout his book about Resistance, “always lying and always full of (expletive).” Resistance, he says, is elicited by “any act that rejects immediate gratification in favor of long-term growth, health or integrity.”
Sounds a lot like working toward a black belt, doesn’t it?
Some common stumbling blocks we encounter as we work toward that next goal:
“The requirements are overwhelming.”
“I don’t have time to practice.”
“I’m not in good enough shape.”
So, what are we to do?
Just Do The Work
Pressfield identifies a few ways we can wrestle Resistance to the ground.
Stay stupid – “We can always revise and revisit once we’ve acted. But we can accomplish nothing until we act.”
Be stubborn – “When we’re stubborn, there’s no quit in us.”
Blind faith – “Our mightiest ally … is belief in something we cannot see, hear, touch, taste or feel.”
Passion – “Fear saps passion.”
Friends and family – “Only two things will remain with us across the river: our inhering genius and the hearts we love.”
Becoming a black belt is not easy. It’s like getting your a diploma from grade school, high school or college. It took you a long time to get there, and you had many tests – both literal and figurative – along the way, except the education just begins when you get that “final” reward.
Like everything else, if you want it bad enough, it’s yours. You’ve just go to do the work to get there.
Just remember: The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.