during the formative 13 years of my life the martial arts provided a platform for me to challenge myself physically and mentally whether this was learning a complicated techniques, taking a belt grading or sparring session, it was easier to challenge myself as a child where you don't really have a concept of yourself and how you project yourself out to people, as vanity is still a foreign concept at this age, you probably have the best opportunity to grow from your challenges as you are not going to hold yourself back this is the beauty of childhood everything is cool and exciting and as i said before you see life as being awesome.
you then end up going through your teenage years where you are becoming more conscious of your self what you want to become and what image you are projecting out. from this point you start restricting yourself from new challenges and start sticking to what you know because this becomes comfortable and as you grow into being an adult you are maneuvering yourself and your life into what is comfortable, rejecting or ignoring new challenges before you sticking to the smooth straight path you know rather than the rough twisty forked path with many opportunities, but what are you doing you are robbing yourself of challenges and opportunities for personal growth, to better understand yourself as a person and improve yourself (as all of us don't really want to admit that we can improve personally as we are all comfortable with the person we are there are of course exceptions to this but in the most i believe this to be correct).
what stops you from taking new challenges is fear, fear of failing. when you are a young child failing doesn't bother you because you are open to learning from your failures as you are not trying to project a certain pisona of yourself, you simply just are you exist in the moment and don't care about the past or future. as i said before you have no concept of vanity this is something you develop as you grow due to peer pressure and trying to live up to your parents expectations or the expectations you tell yourself your parents want for you.
When teaching Kickboxing you never hear children say i'm never going to be able to perform this technique they just try and keep trying. but in adults it is all to common to hear it, what you are doing here is setting yourself up for failure so you have already given yourself an excuse in the first place for not being able to do something. at this point a high percentage of adults get frustrated and quit and justify it by saying the technique is just to hard or difficult, what you have done here is passed on an opportunity to challenge yourself and grow as a person instead you have choose to go back to the smooth straight path which is comfortable and you know so well. but what are you learning about yourself here nothing are you gaining anything no.
The small percentage of people who stick with it and keep trying even when they fail a 100 times at something get over the embarrassment of failing and people screaming and laughing they succeed and at that point you may not know it but this is the "awesome" part of life, at this point you feel something a sense of pride, accomplishment or whatever you want to call it it feels great, at this point you have just learnt something about yourself you have accepted the new challenge and overcome it. you have also just made yourself more open to taking the next challenge this is one of the great things about martial arts it is all about new challenges and overcoming them all the way from white belt to black belt and then from there the challenges keep coming, i have seen it many times, i remember one guy that had not done any exercise for a long time and had the worst flexibility i have ever seen, but he choose to do Kickboxing where you require a certain level of flexibility to perform a lot of the kicks and knees! this would have been enough for most people to quit but this guy kept attending and over a period of 12 months he went from no flexibility and struggling with the techniques of Muay Thai, to having good level of flexibility and performing good strong techniques. he had challenged himself and overcome his challenges as well as the desire to quit! and ultimately learnt a lot about himself along the way and opened his mind up to challenge and personal growth! this also inspired me to keep learning taking challenges and grow as a person.
when i started competing in amatuer kickboxing i opened myself up to a new set of challenges, fear of failure and the possibility of serious injury i had many contests always going into the fights worried about losing and looking stupid to my peers. rather than let this fear get to me and control me i used it to push harder and use it to drive myself to win no matter how tough it was because i knew i would kick and beat myself up a lot harder than my opponent would if i lost without giving 110%. during my fighting career i managed to claim 2x world titles and defend them against the world toughest amatuer Kickboxers several times, what did i learn during this journey i learnt challenges are not to be feared they are to be embarrassed, you can achieve what you want to as long as you are prepared to put hard work in, things are not automatically going to happen for you, you need to make things happen in life take control and take the opportunities as come whether you think you are ready or not, whether the time is right or not, if you pass opportunity you pass the chance to progress in life become what you aspire and so on.
this is what brings me to my latest challenge starting a podcast it is something totally alien to me, yes i have listened to many podcasts but to actually produce one yourself is a totally different kettle of fish. it is a new journey in which i relish the challenge ahead whether i get it wrong or right it is more about the journey that is important and what we can learn along the way. sure it is going to be chaotic and rough round the edges and failure is going to happen that is certain but it is how we overcome these failures which will allow for the opportunities for personal growth and development, Character building and learning and the possibility of success and whether successful or not i will benefit from it regardless it will also be exciting and awesome.
so here is to personal growth and learning and i ask you this! how are you going ensure you challenge yourself in life and give yourself chances to learn about yourself & grow and achieve what you want? dont let fear of the unknown stop you and get yourself out of your goddamn comfort zone and try new things today don't put things off till tomorrow as tomorrow never comes! thanks for listening.