Yesterday…

Yesterday is a day gone past. 

Yes, we should look upon our memories of the former with fondness, taking forward our lessons learned and the joys of our experience.

But today is when we must live and prove to ourselves and the world that we are not living only by resting on the successes of the days before. 

So what if you are “supposed” to be somebody or somewhere? So what if you are called “black belt” or “champion”? No one says who you are today has to be limited or set by what you did yesterday. 

Greatness isn’t a “won-in-one” game, it’s an ever-to-be-earned series of battles.  Because we won yesterday does not guarantee us a win today. Because we won today does not mean that we will certainly win tomorrow. 

Lest we forget: we are all students, always. 

Yesterday is to be cherished.  

Every Today is another day we must continue to strive to win again and again.

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Take My Breath Away…

Breathing. 

We are so very bad at this. The moments go so quickly that we seem to plan our next breath whilst forgetting to breathe along the way. Too often, we use up our breath to yell, complain, blame, chastise, obfuscate, speak ill, and even to fill the few spaces between the sounds. 

At practice tonight, one of the other black belts was working through some movements and came to realize how tense all of his moves had become. Every movement was a force of strength throughout the whole motion. 

Asking to hear his breath through the move, it was clear that the very sound of each breath accompanying each move was forced. Taking on a my suggestion to control the speed and precision of his breath, he tried it differently and became less tense and observed his movements as having improved with better speed, fluidity, and control. We spoke for a few minutes about how different it was one way versus the next.

I, too, forget this very lesson – pretty much on a daily basis – to use breath in the way it was intended: to control, to ease, to form graceful and intentional movements, both physical and mental, in order to manage the self and surrounding circumstances with finesse and calm. 

One day, near the end,  we will be searching for those extra few breaths to say those things that really matter, or have them to listen and simply be for a few moments more. 

Use every breath wisely and intently.

Response to ‘Whatever you do, don’t quit your job to pursue your passion’

Commenters can be such critics. A response to those that scoffed Janelle Quibuyen’s article in Quartz, talking about the realities around working for yourself. 

It seems the intent of this piece is to lend perspective to the flippant message that pervades American society, especially in the younger generations, that if you aren’t entrepreneurial and trying to figure out how to do your own thing, you’re giving up and your success in context of other kinds of work is not meaningful. As a Gen-Y’er myself (now lumped into the Millenials categorization), we’re pounded with “lifestyle design” messages that suggest you can only eat your cake if you’re one of “them”: the hyper-successful, works all day and night, hustlers that refuse to work for “the man”. In contrast, it would seem more prudent to believe – and behave – in a way that allows for all manners of personal success and enjoyment regardless of a label to your work. There exists all manner of work: day jobs, volunteering, community involvement, mentoring, teaching, social organizations, memberships, and so on. No one says you have to be defined by just one of these things. Instead, make it a point both to pursue your passions and be able to fund them. There’s nothing wrong with having a day job that pays for your outside of work work. Inasmuch, there’s nothing wrong with focusing your attention to a passion area as your day job if that’s what you want and have the capability and capacity to perform as your main work. Try it all on for size, and keep working at it. Prune away the nonessential and take in all the things that matter to you as you are able. If society is wrong about anything in today’s world, it’s the idea that life can only be and should only be lived one way or another. This is the biggest fallacy of all. Rather, choose to live intently and do what’s right for you with passion, authenticity, and mindfulness. There are many paths and every person is responsible for his or her own destiny. 

Teach What You Learn…Learn As You Teach

Someone once said, “Those who can’t, teach.” This is completely incorrect. 

I had a meeting this morning and the person I met with asked me what I saw myself doing down the road. “Ultimately, I’d like to be a professor.” 

“What’s your motivation for wanting to teach?” he asked.

Teaching is about giving back and sharing. There are all manner of ways to give back. Take, for instance, my beautiful fiancée, who donates her time to causes like the environment and sustainability, things she really cares about. 

If you have a talent or a gift and the will and energy to do so, you must share it. The formula goes like this:

Learn. Experience. Learn more. Share your experience. Learn more. Teach. Learn even more. Share more. 

Every time I teach at the martial arts school, I learn something new, often from the student themselves. Sometimes, it’s an “aha” moment I have on my own. Understanding that you can do something greater than yourself by sharing and giving back is part of the big picture in life.

Remember, we’re always students in between degrees. Even teachers learn as they teach. In return, share what you learn. 

Life Isn’t Ops, It’s a Project…

Part of the definitive meaning of a project is that it is a temporary endeavor with a finite end. 

So often, we try to compartmentalize, process-ify, and micromanage life to some regular expression of expectation. By doing so, we risk our ability to adapt to an ever-changing landscape that can’t be neatly placed into a box and executed as if it were some sort of routine to be handled. 

Instead, it turns out that even though we can plan all we like, there are always going to be issues to be prioritized, risks to mitigate, changes to manage, and a constant re-baselining of scope, time, and resources. 
For all the many reasons, life is fluid, moving, and by definition…living. Therefore, so must we be, and not forgetting that life is not operations, but a project.

The Spin Before the Kick…

Sometimes, especially when it’s important, there may be spinning. 

Spinning can build momentum and energy until the just right moment.  

In order to take advantage of that momentum and energy, you must come out of the spin and kick into action.  Otherwise, you might be left dizzy from going in circles. 

Just like the wheels of a car spin just enough to catch the street, or a martial artist spins to exact a powerful kick, life and work often requires spinning.  Not forever, just enough. 

The busy and crazy can feel dizzying, but if you take action at the right moment, it might turn out that it was just the spin before the kick.

Moments…

Worry yourself not with how the entire stream of events necessarily flows. It’s about the moments in between: ones when you make real connections, have a realization of truth, those of friendship, laughter and goodness. 

No ones counting your degrees. No one’s counting how many hours you worked. No one’s holding your G.P.A. to you.  No one cares about your “success”. 

Moments…are that which we should be collecting, what will really count in the end.