Learning to let go.

We’ve all heard it before, we may even have done it ourselves: “It’s all because of x” or “If only I had done x instead…” hindsight has a way of playing with us that is neither constructive nor positive. It can drag us into a mire of regret and essentially confirm a narrative in our mind that reinforces the fixed mindset, rather than allowing us to move on and develop a growth mindset.

Sometimes I wonder what my life would look like if I had only applied myself more at school. Would I be working a better job? Would I be making more money? What happened if I had only started jiu-jitsu earlier? Maybe I would be further down  the journey already and have achieved more… This is a dangerous state of reflection to be in, and I make a huge effort to logical dismiss this useless and fruitless way of thinking. 

Hindsight tends to deal in “what ifs”, but doesn’t grant credit to the things you did successfully. It dwells on what we could have done better, not what we actually did well. 

In the wake of the Christchurch Earthquake, I found myself dealing with many students, parents and people who were profoundly affected by the trauma of the event. A lot of the grief, stress and emotional damage caused by the disaster had never been dealt with, even five years after the events, and many people looked back to the disaster as a crucial event that has shaped their current view of the world. Because we don’t often practice good reflection skills, we often leave these narratives unattended in our mind and, if left to fester, become negative affirmations that we allow to dominate our way of thinking. There is no doubt that the earthquake was a traumatic event, I don’t want to try and say it wasn’t at all, but I do feel that many people have not dealt with that constructively in reflection to move on with their lives. 

I suppose this is just one example I can think of, but learning to let go of the darkness if the past is crucial if we want to fully embrace the brightness of the future. 

Do you find yourself dwelling on things you could have done or thinking about what you could have done differently? Let it go; allow your mind to look forward, not backward. 

Siyathakatha by Dominowe is blowing my mind.

Firstly, I’d like to say that I’m in no way a musical aficionado, but I do know how music makes me feel. I’m a big fan of listening to an album from start to finish (and I actually rank my favorite musicians in relation to my favorite albums of theirs, not just single songs.); following a building motif or story  threaded together by the artists’ performance across an entire album. Siyathaktha does this for me in a big way. I stumbled across Dominowe’s debut album earlier this year and it’s become a go-to for helping me to  channel a state of flow. These are some of my thoughts on the album as a whole.

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Dominowe’s solo debut album Siyathakatha looms heavy with a sound that is distinctly South African and powerful in it’s measure and pace.

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The Art of Finishing what you Start.

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When you start down a path, making sure you reach the end is a sign of self-respect.

“Never leave a job half done.” My grandfather told me that as a boy. I haven’t forgotten those words, even if at times I have failed to act on them. He had been sitting, watching me finish a simple drawing one afternoon before I had decided to wander off before it was complete. In his way, he didn’t say anything at the time, but waited instead until I came back to sit down with him for lunch.

“You know that drawing you were doing before?” In my mind I was anticipating some sort of compliment or critique.

“You didn’t finish it…” He stated objectively. “Never leave a job half done.”

As a boy I didn’t think much about it until after his passing. Today, the more I reflect on the sentiment of his words, the more profoundly his advice affects me.

The more I think about it, the more it seems like everything he said to me had some intentionally deeper meaning he had planned and percolated on before he brought his words, or actions, into the world.

We, as individuals, are not just responsible for our choices or the paths we decide to walk down, but also for making sure we finish what we start.

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Rickson Gracie on Brazilian Jiu-jitsu

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Rickson Gracie is one of the most well renowned practitioners of the martial art. He has some of the most insightful, philosophic views on the art and how it informs our lives on and off the mats.

Jiu-Jitsu puts you completely in the moment, where you must have complete focus on finding a solution to a problem. This trains the mind to build that focus, to increase you awareness, your capacity to solve problems.

Listening: Your greatest tool for learning

 

This week I have been thinking a lot about how we learn. Often we leave school or formal education thinking that we already know everything we will need to get by. The reality of things is so far from this. My greatest experiences of learning have mainly occurred in the years since I left formal education.

More specifically, most of my learning experiences have involved Brazilian Jiu Jitsu; through that lens I have learnt more about myself, others and the nature of the world. I am mainly a kinesthetic learner: meaning I learn in a tactile way, by doing and physically working on something rather than listening. I can work out details, understand techniques and grasp concepts far quicker by doing them or have them done to me. I have tried to extend my ability to learn in other ways, as it is sometimes not enough just to rely on the one dimension of learning to carry me through (especially if mastery of the art is the goal). I have focused on developing my ability to Listen. Continue reading

Learning is your responsibility

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I’ve heard many of my own students, and indeed adults, say things along the lines of “I haven’t learnt anything from x” or “I don’t feel like I learn anything here.”. Until recently I hadn’t reflected on this at all, but I found myself feeling confused whilst discussing this with an adult. We had been discussing their training; they circled unconvincingly around their apparent dissatisfaction at their current training and began to explain how they felt they weren’t learning anything. It left me thinking; isn’t our learning our responsibility? Continue reading

Why do we fail?

20170718_110105There are an infinite amount of bite sized inspirational quotes about failure that are recycled in the void of the internet and meeting room posters around the world. Regardless of how we experience or perceive failure, it’s never any easier. The adversity and obstacles we face on our journey is what makes the journey what it is, but we cannot deny the soul crushing weight of failure. So why do we fail? Here are 3 reasons why. Continue reading

Reaching a state of Flow

We’ve all heard the term ‘Flow’ used before. “Going with the flow” is a phrase often associated with an ability to move, or transition easily between tasks.

Reaching a state of Flow can feel almost transcendent; it’s that feeling of being ‘in the zone’, having that perfect training session or a highly productive period of creativity. Often we stumble across this state by luck, or the perfect combination of factors that we may be unaware of. With a bit of understanding of the concept of Flow, can we reach this state frequently and intentionally to maximize our enjoyment of our chosen disciplines?

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Presence of mind: Being a conscientious learner

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Your mind is like a garden and how it grows is up to you.

Most of the time we don’t reflect on the learning process; we physically arrive for a class or seminar, workshop or tutorial and then try to focus mentally on what is being taught in that session. As a teacher (and a student), one thing I have realized is that the learning process is far more complex than this. Successful learners are not simply those that show up regularly, or even those who work the hardest. It seems to be the case that the most successful learner is the one who is most present in their moments of learning.

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