In the classroom, we encourage all students to embrace the notion of maximum output. It’s the only real way to derive maximum benefit from the lessons. But a word of warning: don’t make the mistake of thinking that maximum output must always be physical output. It could be output of focus, of attention, of respect.
Not letting your minimum turn into your maximum means that you learn to become a maximizer rather than a “satisficer”, someone who’s satisfied with getting by. It can be physically demanding to do this work, and it certainly takes an extra effort to apply it in your attitude and approach to study. Being a maximizer means you’re not satisfied when you know you’ve only done part of what’s possible for you to do. This is built into the martial arts method; in every class you show up to, you have a chance to move a little beyond “satisfactory”.
How does it happen? Well, we can’t rely on our partners, on the instructor, on the curriculum, on the class. We have to dig in a little bit deeper so that we can raise the standard. You don’t have to raise it for the whole class – you just have to raise it for yourself. The class will rise naturally to meet you. Higher standards are infectious, so when you do it other people will do it. In short, you prevent other people from being mediocre by not accepting mediocrity yourself.
This is where the technique comes in. The technique is a way of sharpening your acuity, of sharpening your attention and your awareness and your focus. It’s the method. It’s not just the result. The drilling, the training, the practice – this stuff is the method, not the result. You have to throw yourself completely into the method so that you get the result. If you don’t throw yourself completely, 100%, into the method then you don’t actually have a real shot at it. You’ll be flat, you’ll be empty, you’ll be halfway.
But on the other side if you accept the challenge of the technique, of the classroom, of the calisthenics and cardio, if you do that then you have the chance to take something that is ordinary and make it extraordinary. You have a chance to take something that’s as simple and stupid as a push up and actually become something because of it.
This is one of the few areas where we could encourage you to actually be a little selfish. Because you can have what’s called “enlightened self-interest”. You can be focused on improving yourself and as a consequence you make a huge difference to the people around you. That’s not only being selfish, serving yourself – that’s having enlightened self-interest where it’s good for everybody to get better, to step out of their comfort zones, to learn to work better with others. If that’s your motivation, let it be. You can start with yourself.
So in the name of this sort of enlightened self-interest, be a little bit selfish: strive to get yourself to the next step. Maximize. Inside the training, do a better job of focusing, of being the physical expression you’d like others to express to you. Bring the level up in your calisthenics or your drilling. Just show up when you don’t feel like it. Stop setting your default to complaining or explaining. However it manifests for you, start with yourself and everybody will benefit.
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