(photo: dana.ocker)

The only thing that can propel you toward success is your own choice to do something.

Although I believe in networking and having a strong support team, I also believe in the idea that you should act as if no one is going to be able to help you. Self reliance is critical to success and to becoming a black belt in what you do.

I remember hiking with a group of friends when I was a teenager. We were in the woods and had already hiked most of the day and it was getting dark. We were all tired and the day had certainly been a test of our endurance. I am sure you have heard about “true colors?”

If you put someone in a stressful situation, like that of being lost, hungry, and tired in the woods, you will quickly see what people are made of. Fear will make people very emotional. When people are in highly emotional states of fear, they stop caring about how they appear to you and instead start focusing on any way possible to cause this feeling to cease. They show their “true colors.”

So this highly stressful situation was causing a few of my friends to show a side of themselves I wasn’t used to seeing and might have never seen in run-of-the-mill daily activities. When people are put into a stressful situation, they can become angry, scared, and often hopeless. Some people become confident, take charge, and deal with the situation as best they can. It is important to figure out which person you are and assess how you react to stressful, maybe even life threatening, situations.

Being physically prepared helps us be mentally ready

These impromptu situations teach us a lot about ourselves and others—good and bad. I was fortunate to have been well-prepared for this situation mentally and physically. What was a frightful event for my friends was a lot of fun and another unique experience for me.

Getting back to the story – one of my friends had very poor eyesight and when it was dark his normally very confident attitude dropped to a mere whimper of, “I can barely see.” He made this clear for about an hour, but his confidence drastically began to improve once he realized he was doing okay in spite of his handicap. My other friend, however, wasn’t doing so well. He simply stopped walking and said, “I give up.”

He simply sat down on the ground and started crying. Naturally we were puzzled as this wasn’t a challenge to do 200 push-ups. You couldn’t just give up. So we asked what was wrong. He said, “I want to go home.”

I might have expected that type of response from a nine or ten year old, but not from a teenager perfectly capable of giving his parents a ride for their money. But this person simply stopped, in the middle of the mountains, with no real solution to his problem outside of getting up and going home. We couldn’t just make the problem go away. He wanted what we all wanted, and what the rest of us thought we were in the process of doing—going home. Of course I have to admit I was very comfortable in the woods and probably more motivated by dinner than anything else, but the objectives were the same: get home.

Dancing in the dark

When training in Ninjitsu (the art of the Ninja) you get used to spending time in the dark; becoming comfortable with being sightless. Not only that, but much of my training took place in the outdoors, so this was just another stroll in the woods for me. But that didn’t make the reality of emotion any less real for the others. Fear of the unknown reared its ugly head. The woods were cool during the day, but as darkness began to cloak us, the trees gave way to shadows and the noises became alarming to my friend.

Although we first tried to be nice and get him to move, it all ended when we explained that unless he wanted to spend the night there in the woods alone (more painful image), he had to keep moving. This and the fact that my other friend was getting more and more impatient because it was getting darker and his ability to see would only get worse, helped get things going again. I explained that it would be impossible for me to get a helicopter to save him in this very moment and the only way he was going to get home was if he stood up and did something about it. Realizing he didn’t have a choice and not happy with the idea of spending the night in the woods alone, he got up and continued. Needless to say, we all made it home safe and sound. The only bruises were to my friend’s ego as he realized that his true cowardly self had been revealed.

Naturally, I wasn’t expecting anyone to stop and start crying, and it is hard to really prepare for what an emergency situation will do to us or others. But very often, the negative emotions we have will do very little to cure the problem. And I certainly remember enough times in my life where my stubborn attitude got in the way of progress.

Sometimes we don’t have people around to coach us to our feet and get us to keep going; sometimes we get tired and decide to sit down and just do nothing. But in almost every single case, nothing matters until you make the decision to act. Until you decide to change. It is very unlikely that if you just stop what you are doing and sit down that success will come and find you. Watching television for the sake of wasting your time until someone shows up to get you into action is not the way to achieve greatness.

In the end, it is up to you to choose: Wimp or Warrior?

As the author Myomoto Musashi wrote in his book of strategy (The Book of Five Rings) – “Do nothing which is of no use.”

I remember one of my favorite students who suffered from a number of physical disabilities. He was about 9 years old, only one arm and could barely walk due to some complications with his back and legs.

When I first took over his training, I was inspired by his positive attitude and desire to learn. While most instructors shunned away from pushing him further into a sport that required a lot of body movement, I simply found his passion for the art to be more fuel. I didn’t see limitations and neither did he. It wasn’t long before I started teaching him weapons and making the most of his one arm. He was by far the most talented students with the Nunchaku (two sticks connected by a chain). He chose to be a warrior and never let his physical limitations stop him from following his personal interest. He saved himself.

Winjitsu Work Out

Decide whether you will be a Wimp or a Warrior. Think about my friend’s reaction to being lost in the woods. Would you keep moving forward, seeking solutions, looking for a way out? Or would you sit down and give up, waiting to be rescued by someone else? If you have made it this far in this series of books, then you are a Warrior or a Warrior in the Making.


About the Author RICK TEW

I will do the splits for you too. I provide edutainment events that help you to be a Ninja in what you do. I offer Martial Arts Therapy Retreats on Samui Island in Thailand. My unique Winjitsu Mind-Body system of coaching inspires you to BE more fulfilled and to DO more to KickStart your ideas.

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