Peaks , Valleys and Plateaus

Peaks , Valleys and Plateaus

This too shall pass


By now you know that practice is a process to be experienced, not a result to be achieved. It’s a journey, not a destination. Sometimes though, it feels a lot like a roller coaster. You always seem to be hitting peaks and falling into valleys. Some days, you feel great about your practice. You feel strong, powerful, flexible, focused. Your cardio is good in your technique is crisp and clean. You can’t get enough of these days. Other times, you feel overwhelmed, sloppy, distracted. You keep looking up at the clock. You wonder if you’re ever going to get any better at this. Sometimes these peaks and valleys last for a while - weeks, maybe months.


Obviously no one loses interest in practicing during a peak. You’re excited, you feel like you’re improving, your life outside the Academy is somehow becoming less stressful, as if your martial arts practice is actually improving your life in general. You can’t believe your good fortune and finding something this authentic, this much fun and this useful. But that’s the nature of riding the peak. Sad to say, it doesn’t last. All the discipline and focus in the world can’t stop your practice from periodically dropping into a valley. The point is to be careful that these low points don’t steal your practice from you. Don’t lose sight of the fact that the Valley is simply a low between two peaks. These valleys don’t reflect a sudden breakdown in physical ability, but a shift in how you feel about practice. It’s not your physical execution of technique that's slipping, you still know how to do all the things you were doing last week – but your mood, your attitude has changed.


And practice as in life, many peoples true potential goes unrealized for one reason: they do not follow through when things get difficult. They forget that, given enough time, change his certain. Most people have a tendency to give up when the tables turn, instead of sticking it out until the tables turn again. They rationalize, “Oh, I’ve got no willpower,” but this is a self - perpetuating rationalization.


Will power, like a muscle, needs to be exercised. You need to take control. Undisciplined will is a lazy, spoiled child; every time a situation becomes difficult, it seeks the path of least resistance - to give up. Each time you give in to the spoiled child, each time you shrug and give up, you increase the chances that the same spoiled brat will show up when things get tough in the future. Each difficult time you ride out builds a stronger will, as you take charge of your life, and begin to become someone who follows through on commitments.

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