Baby Steps

How to Warm Up for Life

(photo: Andrea Mazzini)

The successful person does not rely on luck, but on planning, strategy, and calculated risk.

In the Martial Arts we warm up with a light jog, some shadow boxing, and by shaking out the joints and muscles.  Most people already know the importance of a good warm up.

We do so to get the blood flowing and to keep from pulling a muscle.  It is a form of preparation. So how can we warm up for life?  One way would be to not jump into any extreme right away.  This is how we avoid setting ourselves up for disappointment.  One comes before two and three.

It takes times for a graceful performance

No sports figure, dancer, actor, or even surgeon, jumps into their arena without warming up.  And neither should you jump into important life events, or embark on a journey toward success, without warming up.  Preparation is key, just as being aware is critical.  Snap decisions are often not the best idea.

Love at first sight?

This is not to say that you cannot fall in love in three days, but that a relationship that grows slowly and with time is one that is likely to be more stable and long-lasting.  I am no expert on relationships, so I won’t dive into the deep end here, but I will express some thoughts.

Before you can run, you must first learn to walk.  We all know the people who want to go straight to the advanced skills.  They might start off looking good (although most of the time not), but they will lack a foundation for their new skills to rest upon.  It’s like building a house out of toilet paper.  It might look nice, but as soon as it rains, the whole thing crumbles and disappears.  Take one step at a time and cultivate.   Warm up and build slowly.  For impatient people this is a difficult pill to swallow, but in the long run it is a much more effective strategy.

When you have completely stabilized the first step and don’t have to worry about your basic foundation collapsing under your feet when you go forward, then you can go to step two.  In the Martial Science you don’t test for Black Belt after your first few lessons.  I find that students who try to get into the advanced skills early are the ones who also quit early, because lack of proper preparation leads to frustration.  You start with the basics.  The first belt in the Martial Science is designed specifically for building and stabilizing this foundation through devoted training, one step at a time.

Many people fall prey to their first night inspiration and end up sacrificing time and energy for a lost cause that they complain about in the end.  Sore muscles, bruised egos, and defeat often follow attempts to line jump.  Before you really investigate whether this is what you should do, you jump up and start running as fast as you can, only to pull your muscles, twist your ankle, and fall off an imaginary bridge into the icy cold water of regret.  When you are warmed up, you don’t pull muscles.  You take your time.  Basically, a warm up is simply a set of very small physical movements that might mimic your upcoming intensive movements.

To use this Warm Up Strategy in your life, it would be wise to become familiar with the very small aspects of any major change or investment before jumping in to do the splits.  When you sit down with your goal list and plan of action, remember to warm up before taking off.  A warm up could consist of reviewing mental strategies you will need to perform at your best.  It could be to start small and increase the size of your goals as you get better.  Don’t bite off more than you can chew or you might end up choking on too much of a good thing.

A personal story about preparation

I operate a martial arts training camp and get students from all walks of life who want an adventure, new life challenge, or simply a break from reality.  I also get those who want to become a Ninja.

They read through the Web site, watch the videos, and imagine themselves training like a warrior.  But very few can handle the long term training required to succeed and attain their instructor status.  Why?  Because we love to shop, and as impulse buyers we very often get ourselves in way over our heads.  In this microwave society, we expect instant results.  We want our soup now, even if it is relatively tasteless, rather than wait for that pot to simmer for hours.  We sacrifice speed for quality.

We also want to believe that there is a way out from our nine to five jobs.  Teaching martial arts is a great way to make a living.  But like anything else on your career wish list, it has to allow you to live your passion.  Does this mean we should avoid jumping into the lake to learn how to swim?  Yes and no.  It means you need to jump or you will never learn and/or experience.  But it also means don’t jump into a lake full of piranha.  Just try to end the overnight thinking and realize that training to become a Black Belt in what you want to do is going to take some time and contemplation.  The simmering will make the success all the more tasty, nutritious, and beneficial.

Winjitsu Work Out

Begin to think about your level of patience, your willingness to invest the proper amount of time and energy to your success.  Do you tap your foot waiting on the microwave to beep?  Or do you enjoy the process of building slowly and savoring the soup?

List 4 things you would like to accomplish long term:





Make a separate list of the steps you might take to accomplish those goals, and the length of time you feel is appropriate to devote.

3 thoughts on “Baby Steps”

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