“If you find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.
- Frank A. Clark
Much of our progess in today’s world is derived from our quest to deal with obstacles and overcome them in the easiest and most efficient ways possible. Look only as far as our modern-day technologies from the automobile and airplanes in travel to laptop computers and today’s smartphones in the worlds of business and communication and you can directly follow a path to their development originating as a means to deal with a problem or obstacles in our daily lives.
The irony for me is that although we spend so much time developing strategies, processes and technologies to deal with obstacles, it is the overcoming of these obstacles that brings us the greatest joy, fulfillment and purpose in our lives. It is my guess that when the vast majority of us look at the times in our lives that we are most proud of ourselves and feel the greatest degree of satisfaction is when we, against sometimes insurmountable odds, overcame obstacles and landed triumphantly on the other side.
For the past four decades, I have witnessed countless students overcome obstacles to achieve fulfillment and success in my role as a martial arts master instructor. Seeing a student be confronted by their own personal limitations on their road to Black Belt and then witness their transformation in overcoming these obstacles is an absolute gift and inspires me still in doing my work.
Now, in my work as a professional speaker, this continues. For the past several years I have had the honor to share with various corporate teams and organizations, a program I developed called the Discover Your Breakthrough You Board Breaking Experience. In this program, participants identify a breakthrough they want to experience in either their personal or professional lives. This could come in the way of releasing weight, mending relationships, financial goals or going on a dream vacation. They then write this intention on one side of an 8” x 10” pine board (the kind used for breaking in martial arts demonstrations). We then have them identify the limiting beliefs such as, “I’m not good enough”, “I’m too old”, or “I don’t have enough, time, money, energy, etc.” that have held them back from achieving these intentions. They then write these on the opposite side of the board. I then systematically teach them how to break the board using the heel of they palm with a martial arts strike while facing their limiting beliefs written boldly on the board before them.
As you can imagine, this is an exhilarating experience for the participants and the breaking of the board acts as powerful metaphor to breaking through the obstacles (which almost always reside within their own minds) that are keeping them from realizing their dreams. Throughout the years, when seeing past participants of this program, I am told time and time again that their boards still have a special placement in their office to remind them of their breakthrough.
While most participants break the board on their first or second try, the people who struggle and require multiple attempts to break the board provide the greatest amount of energy and inspiration in the room. At a recent event, a woman who has dealing with the challenges of Multiple Sclerosis required several strikes to break the board. After several unsuccessful attempts, I stood holding her board I looked at her intently saying that this was her last attempt of the day and we would take another shot at it on the next day of our workshop together. On her final attempt, she settled into her breath and with her eyes focused intently on her goal, she exploded her hand into the board and a resounding “crack” went through the room as she split the board in two with a powerful and precise strike. The room erupted in a standing ovation. Cheers of appreciation of her courage and perseverance filled the room. As humans, we love overcoming a good challenge.
While breaking a piece of wood can be exhilarating, I believe the lessons learned about oneself and how participants can carry them forward in their lives is the most valuable gift from this experience. Here are the three main breakthrough concepts I teach in this workshop to experience breakthroughs in your life.
While the board is broken with the heel palm of the hand, the power of the strike is really generated through the legs and hips. As a result, it is necessary to have a solid foundation with one’s stance and legs in order to experience a breakthrough.
The same holds true in life and the power we derive from powerful foundational daily practices in our lives. Several years ago, I was introduced to a book called Miracle Mornings by Hal Elrod, which for me was life-changing. Elrod argues that the one time of day that we have the most control of, is first thing in the morning and when we settle into a productive routine in the first part of the morning, it sets the tone for the rest of the day.
His system consists of the following 6 activities he labels via the acronym S.A.V.E.R.S., which stands for:
In martial arts, the “spirit yell” or Ki Hap is used as mean of generating additional focus and power in our strikes. This explosion of voice and breath helps us to generate power we oftentimes did not know even existed within ourselves.
However, the greatest use of our voice comes in the way of not only our verbal language, but importantly, the conversations that are having on inside of our own minds and what we are continuously telling ourselves. Most often, these come in the way of our worry, anxiety and negative inner dialogue.
A study called The Worry Cure, done several years ago by scientists at UCLA, found that 85% of things we worry about never happen. I know what you are thinking, “But, 15% did.” However, of the 15% that did occur, study participants said that 79% of those times either were a) not as bad as they thought they’d be OR b) they were happy they occurred because they learned from them. As a result, 97% of the things worried about either never happened or weren’t as bad as they thought they’d be. This leads to the questions……..
In breaking that board, it is imperative to move through the board, not just to the board.
How many times in your life have you gotten just to the precipice of having a breakthrough and then fell short? This may happen because we lose momentum, hesitate right at the final moment or create distractions that keep us from facing our fears and moving out of our comfort zones to our desired goals.
One key to moving through any obstacle is to be prepared for when they occur. In her book, Rethinking Positive Thinking, author Gabrielle Oettingen shares a four-step process for dealing with obstacles BEFORE they arise, so we are ready with a plan of action when they do. The process is called W.O.O.P. and stands for………
Identifying possible obstacles in advance and having a plan for how to deal with them when/if they do arrise, allows us to continue moving forward in the direction of our desire, rather than becoming derailed due to not knowing how to deal with those challenges.
Black Belt Leadership Speaking & Coaching
PS: As a special thank you to my loyal readers, I am making available a special discount offer on my new online home study course, Mind of a Champion: 8 Weeks to Creating a Life of Power, Passion and Purpose. Use discount code “MOC-INTRO” through Saturday, 8/31, 2019 to receive 50% off the purchase price of this program. The first 10 people to enroll will receive a signed copy of my book, Black Belt Leadership!
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