I started teaching martial arts when I was 15 years old. I knew when I started that job that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I loved the energy, the people, and all the life lessons that I learned.
My instructor always told his staff, “Don’t focus on where a student starts, focus on what they can become with time and training.”
What he was saying was don’t focus on all the challenges a student has. There may be many. They may be overweight, uncoordinated, terribly shy, fearful, and more.
Where they start is not really important. What is important is what they can become with coaching, encouragement, and training. It doesn’t matter what limitations they have, challenges they have to overcome, or any other issue.
When we focus on what they are capable of, when we focus on their potential, it totally shifts your mindset. You start focusing on all their good attributes. You start to be a good-finder, and you see all their strengths and positive qualities that you can build upon.
This mindset has helped us see so many transformations in our students. There have been hundred over the years.
I remember a student who enrolled in about 2006, just a few years after we had opened. His father brought him in to become more confident, stronger, and more athletic. This young man was about 12 or 13 years old.
His first class was rough! He was like a fish out of water. He had a hard time learning because he lacked coordination and was incredibly unconfident. His dad asked me point blank, “Do you think he will be able to do this?”
I gave hm the same advice that my instructor gave me. Never focus on where they start, focus on what they can become. I assured his dad that it wasn’t going to happen in a day – that it would happen day by day with lots of training, encouragement, reminders, and repetition.
The best thing about this kid was he wanted to be good. He showed up to the dojo 3 days per week with a great attitude. Little by little we saw his skill level improve, his confidence inched up month by month, and he was having fun.
Five years later, this young man earned his Black Belt, and his parents were ecstatic! Their once shy, uncoordinated son became a Black Belt Champion with confidence that he could achieve any goal he set for himself.
Years later, he is now a Police Officer with the Broward County Sherriff’s office, he is married, and has two kids.
It’s easy to focus on people’s shortcoming and negative qualities. It’s easy to write people off in the beginning, however when you focus on what positive qualities you can build on, progress starts to happen.
Year ago, the gold miners were searching for gold. They weren’t looking for dirt. That was easy. They stayed focused on finding the gold, and eventually they did.
Sensei James Hons is a full-time instructor at Elite Force Martial Arts. He is currently in training for his 4th degree Black Belt, and in 2015 he became the US Open Grand Champion. It was his first time competing.
When he started training with us, he was a shy, unconfident kid who would not look me in the eyes. He starred at the floor when talking to me. His dad was a very militant, hard-nosed person, and he wanted his son to introduce himself to others with confidence.
I shared this philosophy with his dad, and now more than 13 years later, he could not be prouder of his son.
Are you a parent? Employer? Boss? Leader? Coach? If so, you have the unique privilege to coach and influence people under you. You may have the next superstar in your organization. That person may not know it yet, but if you look closely enough, you will be able to see tons of untapped potential waiting to come out.
I have always loved the book, “The Little Engine That Could”. That book is not just a kids’ book. It is a philosophy for life! Teach the people under you to think like that, encourage them, praise progress, gently correct errors, and you will be amazed with the results!
Comparison is the Killer of Joy
I first heard this quote when I went to the Growth Summit in 2018 with my good friend, Mark Moore. Rachel Hollis was one of the speakers. Rachel is a best-selling author, and one of her books entitled, “Girl, Stop Apologizing” has sold over 1.5 million copies.
Rachel talked heavily about how comparing yourself to others can be detrimental to your success. She said, “Comparison is the killer of joy.” She is so right!
Most people focus on what they don’t have. They see people on social media posting about buying a new house, getting married, going on these luxurious vacations, and going on and on about the great things in their life.
And while a part of them is happy for other people’s success, another part gets jealous, frustrated, and depressed because they may not have those things. I have heard people say that scrolling Facebook or Instagram can make them feel sad because they immediately think about what they don’t have in their life.
Melissa and I attend The Cross Church in Deerfield Beach. The other day, Pastor Tommy Boland, was talking about how there are two kinds of pride. The positive pride is feeling great about your family, your achievements, and the life you have built.
The sin of pride is comparing yourself to others. He said it is wrong, and the constant comparisons can lead you down a dark road of depression and sadness.
Let’s get this out on the table. Social media is a highlight reel of people’s lives. No one is living the perfect life free from frustrations, problems, and challenges. Do many people post about their problems? Of course not!
They show all the great things! They show the amazing business they built, the new house they just bought, the new car they just got, the new, incredibly loving relationship they are in, etc. It is an overview of the positives in their life.
Should we allow what others have or don’t have influence our self-esteem? Hell no! And while we know this logically, emotionally it can be hard.
How can we live our best life and stop comparing ourselves and our lives to others? Here are a few ideas.
Strategy #1: Focus on what you do have!
Tony Robbins says when you ask better questions, you get better answers. So, ask yourself, “What do I love about my life? What am I most proud of? What do I have that I am incredibly grateful for?” Asking the right questions will get you to focus on all the blessings, victories, and achievements that you already have.
Tony also says that progress is the key to happiness in life. When we are seeing and feeling progress in our lives, we feel happier and more joyful. Focus on the areas of your life that are moving in the right direction.
I’m sure when you really look, you will see just how truly wealthy you already are!
Strategy #2: Cut back on social media!
I once read that you can either spend your time living your life, or you can waste your time by observing other people’ lives.
I love social media because we can reach an enormous amount of people very quickly. It’s never been easier to stay in touch with friends, family members, and loved ones.
As a business owner, Facebook and Instagram allow Elite Force Martial Arts to connect with people in our community for little money, and it brings new students in the front door, and it motivates old students to start training again.
There are a ton of positives, however if you feel bad, sad, or depressed when scrolling because you are comparing your life to someone else’s, cut back immediately!
Rachel Hollis told the crowd in Arizona that she posts on social media for business, but that is it. She does not scroll to see what others are up to. She said that when she did, she would naturally start comparing herself to others and that lead to intense anxiety, so she stopped.
And for the record, she has over 1.6 million followers on Instagram.
Strategy #3: Journal your feelings
I don’t believe that ignoring certain recurring thoughts will make them go away. Maybe that works for some people, and if it does, good for you.
I have found that writing down how I feel and the circumstance around my feelings helps me to clarify my emotional state and helps me to proactively deal with those emotions.
Sometimes just putting the feelings on paper can feel like a weight has been lifted. Try it! I hope it works for you!