This is me and my student Adam at a promotion celebration. I think it is a pretty good example of why I chose a career in the martial arts.

By Manny Cabrera III

In our martial arts classes at Sidekicks Family Martial Arts Centers, we have a saying “goals you set are goals you get.”  Expanding that simple rhyme it essentially comes from the law, “you get what you focus on.”  Everyday your life is moving in the direction of the thoughts that are currently dominating your brain.  So, what are you thinking about?  At work, are you zeroed in on how your efforts are going to have desirable results, or are you focused on avoiding the consequences of not succeeding?  The Black Belt way (remember, we use black belt as our metaphor for peak performance living) is to focus on the positive and avoid defeatist, negative thinking.  The high achievers in business and other fields have learned this skill well.  Everything you do is a self-fulfilling prophecy, good or bad.

If you’re really committed to high achievement and succeeding in life, then your motivation has to drive you from the inside out.  You have to decide, in the case of business, that there has to be a greater purpose to your work beyond money.  Money is like fuel, it gets you to the next destination.  It’s not an end in and of itself.  People that choose a career based on money often abandon it when another one comes along that can make them more never really feeling fulfilled or achieving excellence in what they do.

When I became a martial arts school owner it wasn’t because I felt I could make buckets full of cash, but because I felt that what I had learned through the martial arts, about personal development especially, could have a great impact on individuals and on the community.  I truly believe that we can remake our society through martial arts.  I knew early on that I needed to stay focused on helping our students succeed because that’s what would sustain my desire to press on day after day, week after week, month after month, and now year after year.  This will especially ring true with many entrepreneurs, because like many new businesses enough money didn’t come right away.   Studies of achievers show that this thinking is true.  The desire for excellence, to build something great, are far more powerful than the desire for money, esteem, or recognition.

Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s Corporation understood this principle and stressed to his team this idea of doing a good job for the inner satisfaction, not just the monetary reward.  He said it was the “faster heartbeat, the pride and satisfaction of accomplishment” that most mattered.  The loudest applause in your life should come from within.

Here’s a common story, you may have heard it, that illustrates my point:

Several years ago, on an extremely hot day, a crew of men was working on the roadbed of the railroad when a slow moving train interrupted them. The train came to a stop and a window in the last car — which incidentally was custom made and air-conditioned — was raised. A booming, friendly voice called out, “Dave, is that you?” Dave Anderson, the crew chief called back, “Sure is, Jim, and it’s really good to see you.” With that pleasant exchange, Dave Anderson was invited to join Jim Murphy, the president of the railroad, for a visit. For over an hour the men exchanged pleasantries and then shook hands as the train pulled out.

Dave Anderson’s crew immediately surrounded him and expressed astonishment that he knew Jim Murphy, the president of the railroad as a personal friend. Dave then explained that over 20 years earlier he and Jim Murphy had started to work for the railroad on the same day. One of the men half jokingly and half-serious asked Dave why he was still working out in the hot sun and Jim Murphy had gotten to be president. Rather melancholy Dave explained, “twenty-three years ago I went to work for $1.75 an hour but Jim Murphy went to work for the railroad.”

Your inner drive for black belt excellence motivates you to be the best you can be.  In order for yourself to be truly successful you have to endure and that can’t come from an external source, it has to come from you.  Identify what in your sphere you most enjoy and this is where you’ll be most rewarded.  I feel most satisfied when I come home and I climb into bed and I’m so tired that I feel it in my bones.  That signals to me that I left it all out there serving our students and in my life.  It’s different than had I stayed up too late watching TV.  It comes from having really made a difference.  That’s what motivates me to get up the next day, making all the hard work worth it.

Instructor Manny Cabrera III for Sidekicks Family Martial Arts Centers, Empower Your Family for Life

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