The heart of the black belt mindset is perfection. I say this all the time; and all the time I get people arguing with me! Knock it off!
I know human beings aren’t perfect; we make mistakes. So what? It’s human nature to make mistakes so if you make mistakes relax! You’re a perfect human being; but that’s not the point.
Stop thinking of perfection as some perfect state of being. Stop thinking of perfection as some place or time you’re supposed to arrive at; it’s not a destination it’s a process.
Lots of people enjoy the wise sayings of the ancient Asian philosophers and martial artists. The problem is that unless you understand the context of these sayings they’re nothing but bites of fortune cookie astrology and t-shirt slogans. Let’s get to a practical translation of perfection.
If you think of perfection as a destination, then you’re stuck chasing a carrot on the end of a stick just like the proverbial donkey. If perfection is nothing more than some motivational goal you know you’ll never reach, how long will your motivation last? Face it, the donkey doesn’t keep walking toward that carrot because he understands that this unattainable objective will get him closer to his life’s destiny. He chases that carrot because he’s stupid!
You’re not a donkey and you don’t need to chase carrots.
Change perspective for a second. Instead of looking at perfection as some unreachable ideal look at it as a process. Achievement in any area of life; material, emotional or spiritual is a process. Achievement is made of thousands of small steps forward and some steps back and sideways. You’re going to have some wins, and you’re going to have some losses. Adversity and frustration are part of the deal as well as moments of triumph and joy. Nothing new here; unless you’re the proverbial jack ass you’ve heard this stuff before!
Martial artists practice forms or kata. These are dance-like exercises designed to help you perfect movements and applications. The process of perfecting a form is endless! No instructor worth his oats will ever tell you your form is perfect; there is always some room for improvement. That’s the point; the form isn’t the end; it’s the means! The kata is an exercise in perfection and this exercise never ends!
Set a big goal; nothing wrong with that. Now instead of letting the moment of attainment represent your arrival at perfection; let every moment of the process be a moment of perfection. Change perfection from a noun to a verb. As you fully engage in the process of attaining your goals you are, in every moment, fully engaged in the process of perfection. Every step: forward, backwards and sideways is part of this process. I know you’ve got somewhere you want to go; but right now you’re doing what it takes to get there…
Apply the same process of perfection in your personal and professional life that a martial artist practices in perfecting a kata. Create a life kata.
Best of all, no matter what conditions and circumstances you face here and now; you can take some small step forward. You don’t need any resources to engage the process of perfection other than your current talents and abilities. No matter how scarce material, emotional or spiritual resources might be right here and now the simple act of taking one small step to improve or perfect your self is a moment of perfection.
The Black Belt is a symbol of excellence, not a symbol of completion. I like to tell my students it’s easier to earn a Black Belt than it is to keep it! Think Like a Black Belt and embrace every moment, every opportunity to engage in the process of self-perfection. Improve yourself and you become a more valuable resource to everyone around you. Self-perfection isn’t selfish…it’s generous!
“Perfection is not a destination, it’s a never-ending process…