A wise Sensei once asked me a question…

The following blog post was originally posted to LinkedIn on 16 May 2014.

When I’m not working, sat at a computer creating things or spending time with my family I can usually be found helping people with their studies of the martial art of Jiu Jitsu. I’ve been doing this for well over a decade and like to think I have developed at least some modicum of aptitude in helping people develop the a range of physical, mental and emotional skills to allow them to advance in their studies. But no matter how much teaching I do and how many techniques, approaches and lessons I develop myself it is the lessons of my first instructors that I come back to time and again as being some of the simplest and most useful.

Like many lessons in the martial arts there is a deep wisdom to be found in them that is applicable beyond the confines of a dojo and equally as relevant in the walls of an office. I’d like to share one of these with you today.

It was during the first few weeks of my training that my instructor sat us down after a fairly mediocre demonstration of our technique. He asked us a simple question - “if I ask you to jump, what should you do?”

Almost immediately one of the students raised his hand and shouted back “jump Sensei”. My instructor smiled and said “are you sure that’s it?” The guy smiled back and said “sorry Sensei. I meant I would shout yes Sensei and then I’d jump”. My instructor laughed (as did we all) and explained that it was the right sort of idea, but the statement would be issued more as an instruction rather than a compliance question and instruction combined. “Anyone else want to have a try … perhaps thinking about what I just saw” he asked?

Another student raised his hand. “I’d jump as far as I could Sensei”. This was met with an “mmmmm” and a nod from the instructor who continued to cast his gaze around the huddle of students.

A girl raised her hand. “I’d jump far, high, fast and safely Sensei. I’d do the best possible jump I could do every time and every time I’d be better than the time before.” My instructor’s face lit up with delight. “Exactly” he said.

He went on from this to explain how we had just been going through the motions and not pushing ourselves. We were mostly first years at university and he explained that we needed to be pushing ourselves rather than relying on someone else to give us the push. He would be there to help us through the tough times, but it was for us to push ourselves each and every time we do something to not only do the best we can, but to push our limits and to improve.

To make progress in our lives we always need to strive and push ourselves. At times we won’t succeed, but that is simply part of the learning process and it is always better than just idling along. To improve we need to practice not only reaching our boundaries but also moving beyond them.

Every day I “jump” in many ways. Every day I try and make those “jumps” better than the day before. And do you know what? Every day at least one of my “jumps” improves … but only because I give everything to improving.

So go on commit to doing a “jump” today that’s your best ever!

Author: Stephen Millard
Tags: | jiu jitsu | linkedin |

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