I'm sure you've heard the adage - that no matter how good you are, there's always someone out there who's faster, stronger, and better than you. Do you agree with that?
I've found it to be generally true with one exception.
A few years ago....the year 1600, to be exact, there was a samurai roaming the lands of Japan, named Miyamoto Musashi.
He had just participated in the epic Battle of Sekigahara, where the warlord, Tokugawa Ieyasu, emerged victorious to claim the title of Shogun, united all the lands of Japan.
As a successful leader, the new Shogun firmly established a dynasty that ushered a period of peace in Japan that lasted 250 years.
While peace was a boon for the common folk, it presented a unique problem for the warriors of the time.
With no more wars or battles, there was no way to attain glory, honor, or prove your worth to your lord.
In order to test their skills, certain samurai and sword masters reverted to public duels. The duels were often fought to the death and provided an outlet for warriors to test and validate their skills, obtain honor, social standing.
After Musashi, had engaged and wiped out after the local talent, he began roaming the Japanese countryside, seeking swordsmen of renown to challenge for a duel.
The duels were to the death and Musashi always won. Always.
After 60 duels under his belt, with no one left who would challenge him, he retired to the mountains to finish out his life as a teacher, artist, and writer.
It was in those mountains that he penned his famous treatise on strategy, the Book of Five Rings.
Now, when someone with a record like that gives you advice on training, you better listen up.
The Book of Five Rings is a hard read in parts, but overall is worth your time. There's some real gems there, not only for your personal training, but for life.
One of my favorite quotes is this one, where he talks about learning the sword system he developed:
"It will be difficult at first, but all things are things are difficult at first."
I don't care who you are, we all have deficiencies. We are creatures of habit who tend to gravitate towards things that we are easy, and avoid those things that are not.
The thing I see the most when I travel the country training folks is that people just don't push themselves enough - either in terms of intensity or consistency. Especially, if they're being exposed to something new or uncomfortable.
It’s easy to get frustrated with yourself when learning something new for the first time. After repeated failure, the temptation to quit can be quite strong. But it’s precisely at this point you have to continue to drive on I pursuit of your goals. It’s the difference between mastering true skill or being a quitter like everyone else.
No one is born knowing the tactical skills we train and hone. So, don’t be disappointed with yourself if you haven’t progressed as fast as you like.
Sometimes, mastery is just staying on the path.
Keep pushing. Keep training.