Success Starts Early - Comfort vs Growth
My youngest kid and I are learning martial arts. At first, my wife and I just thought it would be a good activity for kiddo to get some exercise, discipline, and socialization outside of school. It's turned into a really positive, exciting journey for both of us! We're both considered "intermediate" students, which means we've been consistent for a period of 9-18 months, but during sparring season we fight based on height, not skill level. As such, we've both had to fight much more advanced students, and we've both taken turns getting kicked in the head by our opponents. That's a problem because those are worth more points, and I don't even have the flexibility to reach my leg that high yet! But stretching is uncomfortable and it takes time to see any results. What am I going to do? Well, in martial arts as in life, I can either remain in my comfort zone or I can push into the growth zone.
People like to be comfortable. Have you noticed that? Whether it involves daily routines, physical limits, social situations, or even intellectual pursuits, most of us tend to enjoy the things that we're used to, that we're good at, and that we can perform without effort. But where does that get us? Exactly where we are! If you never take new roads, you'll keep going the same places, right? All growth involves a bit of a journey into the unknown, which can either be exciting or scary, depending on your perspective. I had a business mentor tell me that when the moisture left your mouth and showed up on your hands (have you ever had sweat on your palms before?), you knew you were doing it right. Decide to get excited by what might scare others, because it might mean you're entering the growth zone!
So what does this growth zone look like? First of all, it involves awareness. You'll have to pay attention to your habits and begin to control them...or break them entirely. Second, you'll start stretching. The first time you use certain muscles, they tend to get sore, but that pain shouldn't be mistaken as a bad thing! Third, it'll take practice. We all understand the idea of "failing forward" when encouraging little kids to walk, but for some reason we don't give ourselves permission to fail a few times as we try to get it right. Anything worth doing right is worth doing wrong until you get it right! This is definitely a time when a good mentor and a well-defined goal will be useful. So get out there and embrace the discomfort...because your own personal improvement always beats getting kicked in the head!
Sometimes it's easier to start on a physical goal to understand the process, so begin by either doing stretches or push-ups. After doing some warming up (very important to avoid injury) sit with your legs in a V-shape and see how far you can reach, or see how many push-ups you can do in a minute. Consult online videos on proper technique if you need help! Then work on improving every day for 3 weeks. Your progress might surprise you!
The classic by Dr. Spencer Johnson, Who Moved My Cheese?, might help get you thinking on the right track.