When I was younger, I was really into martial arts. I practiced and studied a Korean style called Tang Soo Do, eventually after years of literal blood, sweat, and tears I earned my black belt. It wasn’t an easy undertaking, but if you think about it, anything worth obtaining shouldn’t come too easily, otherwise what’s the value? Anyways I was in awe of our grand master, who happened to be an 8th degree black belt and I asked my instructor how he became such a high rank. What he told me surprised me.
I naively thought that the grand master was the most talented in his class and with his skills he surpassed his peers. (I was thinking more like some type of Game of Death scene where he had to face his rivals and ended up being on the top, but that was my over active 16 year old imagination). In reality, nothing could be further from what I thought. When the grand master first started he wasn’t the worst in his class, but he was far from the best. Several of his peers surpassed him in both skill and talent. They could jump higher, their kicks were faster, and their punches more powerful. And for the past two or three decades, he had seen some of the most skilled and best martial artists of his time come and go.
The grand master persisted in training and slowly life happened, his peers would either quit, or move on to other endeavors. The grand master focused on training and honing his skills. a decade or more passed, and he reached a grand master rank. He had stated that it wasn’t his skill or talent that was used to earn his rank, but rather his determination and perseverance. The more talented martial artists could have surpassed him, but they didn’t because they did not stick with it. This was an important lesson for me, because it drove me to continue down the road to eventually earn my black belt. You see I wasn’t the best, but I also wasn’t the worst and I persisted until I met my goal.
Years later I found this same concept in a book called “The Greatest Salesman In the World”. –
“I will persist until I succeed. Always will I take another step. If that is of no avail I will take another, and yet another. In truth, one step at a time is not too difficult… I know that small attempts, repeated, will complete any undertaking.” – Og Mandino
This was a life lesson that has stuck with me when things get hard and I’m discouraged. I just remember… “I will persist until I succeed” and remember the story about how the mediocre student, became an inspiring grand master.