Monday, October 3, 2011

"let your vision of success evolve"

The above is what I opened into in Joseph Cardillo's book, Bow To Life: 365 Secrets From The Martial Arts For Daily Life. My sister and I both have the book and read a passage a day. We are hoping it will help us in both our kendo practice and also how what we learn from kendo can translate in our day-to-day.

My sister reads the passages in chronological order. I am more of the random page opener.

Here are some key thoughts that struck me: that discovering the self and living to our full potential is a never-ending journey. We flow through stages and levels, but as this happens, our desires also shift to bigger goals. For example, from just wanting to set up a business, to making that business flourish, to being considered an expert in that business.

Our measures or ideas of success change through time. Our job is to keep on creating, to always be aware of where we are at any point and be conscious of taking ourselves to the next level. Of course this is not meant in an ambitious, obsessive kind of way but in a way that develops us as whole people, not just as career persons, or as artists, or as parents for instance. In every stage we see where we can grow and we expand that way, most often following where our heart leads us. This is not just about the rational mainstream leveling up that we see often portrayed in movies or even in the values inculcated in us since childhood - getting promoted, progressing from singlehood to marriage, having kids in a year or two after the wedding, etc. Practicality is part of it but also is spirituality. How we grow inside not just outside is an integral part of our own success.

I think about where I am now and how some people may view my career situation as a step back. That is their definition. That is probably their measure of success. But from my own perspective, I have achieved something important - breaking out of my comfort zones and paying attention to the other aspects of me that have been neglected through the years and listening to the calling of previously dormant passions.

In my kendo practice I realize that how other people measure success in the dojo does not have to be the same as mine. I will define my practice and if it teaches me patience and perseverance and discipline then I will think myself a success even if I don't get praised or singled out or given special care and attention. Even if I am told in so many subtle and un-subtle ways that I am not "catching up" or "doing as well as". This is not an easy thing to do because we have been brought up in a context of competition and measuring ourselves against what people say and think. But slowly I am managing to just see what is essential to me in my practice and everything else will just be a backdrop to what is important for me to achieve.

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