Tag Archives: inspiration

Little Things Add Up, Part Two

A few months ago I wrote how little things add up. Doing a little bit every day is often better than doing a lot at once. If you’re going to eat an elephant, it’s a lot easier to do it bite by bite rather than one big gulp. The same is true for most things. Not everything, but most things. The bigger the goal, the better this approach works.

I now have evidence of just how much this works. Since June 2015, I’ve written a blog post every single day. They started small, but they’ve gotten better and better as I’ve gotten used to writing more. I’m also enjoying it far more, but I want to focus purely on the numbers. So far, I’ve written a little bit more each day in 2016 than I did in 2015. It’s just a little bit more each day … but that’s every day, and 2016 is more than half over. Those little bits have really added up.

Added up to over 40,000 words, to be exact.

Back on August 5th, that marked the 218th day of the year. From June 1st, 2015 until the end of the year, that worked out to be 218 days as well. In both cases, over 200 days of of writing, but one averaged an extra 200 words a day. That’s three paragraphs… and three paragraphs times 218 days equals 43,000 extra words.

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The Power of Praise

As a general rule, 90% of all emotional communication is either negative or filler. Negative is pretty self-explanatory. Such-and-such sucks, or this thing is terrible, or the weather is horrible. Sometimes it’s outright negativity, sometimes it’s passive aggressiveness, sometimes it’s just complaining. Negativity is everywhere.

Many people default to negativity because it makes you appear smarter. Other people are making mistakes, not you!

The other half, perhaps even more than half, is simply vacuous filler. It’s often disguised as positivity, but it’s really just filler. How was your day? “Good.” How are you? “I’m doing okay.” How was your weekend? “Can’t complain.” These are societal niceties, almost polite fictions. We say them just to keep conversation going without really adding anything to it, to avoid rocking the boat. If you really listen to people, it’s amazing how much is said without ever anything really being said.

The above make up roughly 90% of standard communication. The last 10%, the truly positive part, is much smaller but, holy crap, is it ever effective. Maybe it’s effective precisely because it’s smaller. Continue reading

If Something Is Worth Doing …

Here’s a question for you: let’s say you are at school and have a test coming up. You study for a few hours, you do everything you are supposed to do and you wind up with 85%, comfortably in the A range. How do you feel?

I suppose there’s many possibilities, but I see two in particular. First, the positive reaction. Most people would be thrilled with an A. That’s honour roll material. You could get a 20 on the next test and still have a passing grade. Heck, it’s almost impossible to fail now, assuming you at least pretend to try. That 85 likely put you in the top percentile. You are one of the top performers. An 85 is a great mark.

Well, it’s a great mark for some people…

The other possible reaction: “85? Dang, where did the other 15% go?” Continue reading

The Best Part About Teaching

Teaching has many rewards, to be sure, but it also has many challenges. Many, many challenges. Sometimes I feel like Sisyphus rolling a rock up the hill. I have taught many things over the years, from writing and tutoring to chess and personal fitness. I’m currently a martial arts instructor, which has perhaps the greatest challenges of them all.

This isn’t me. This would be Funakoshi, perhaps the greatest teacher of modern karate.

I might have 20 students in a class. There are several instructors with me, so in the end I may be responsible for five students. Ages can range from 6 to 60 in the family class. Among those five students, one might be super serious, ready for a challenge; another struggles with even the most basic movements; one might need to heavily review all the basics, and another might have ADHD and need continual new stimulus to stay engaged. Five students, potentially five very different needs, and I need to somehow reach them all.

Wow, how do I do this? Typing that out, I just realized how tough my job is. I should get a raise. Continue reading

The Rush From Overcoming Obstacles

For the last week I’ve been on a bit of a health and fitness binge, at least as far as this blog goes. I wrote about how eating healthy makes life and workouts better, about how much I like fitness and about how much I really like fitness. You can see a pattern, and it’s no accident. In fact, that pattern will continue today, but in a slightly different form.

Yes, another excuse to post fractal patterns!

There’s a reason I’ve been so gung-ho about this, and it’s because one day I really didn’t want to do my workout. I had about eight-thousand excuses, and I listened to them. I agreed: today would not be a good day for a workout. The problem was if not today, when? The rest of my week is booked solid with commitments, and if I leave it until the weekend I’ve gone a whole week without. That’s not good.

What is a man to do? Well, I went all excuse-busters, and now everything is coming up Milhouse. Continue reading

My Most Painful Loss

Victory is sweet.  We all know that.  There’s a thrill, a rush of accomplishment when you win, when you defeat your adversary.  Whether it’s sports or games, soccer or scrabble, victory feels good.  In fact, the greater the adversary the greater the thrill.  Defeating an opponent against all odds is one of the greatest and most powerful feelings you can get.

So everyone else didn’t believe? Shut up, Wallace.

I know this feeling well.  As a former competitive martial artists, nothing feels better than victory … and nothing worse than defeat.  Currently, my focus is on chess.  Over the last year, I’ve played 59 games, winning 47 while drawing 9 … and I would trade them all away, every single one, to have this one defeat erased from my memory. Continue reading

No Excuses

Excuses are the easiest things to make in the world. You can make an excuse out nothing. Need a reason not to do something? Just reach for an excuse. Suddenly molehills become mountains and you have a thousand reasons to delay, put off or even abandon whatever you want.

A mole the size of a mountain would be pretty scary, now that I think about it.

This is timely, because we are now three weeks into January. If you’ve set any New Year’s goals or resolutions, and you survived the first week, awesome. You rock. You passed the first hurdle, but here comes the second. This is probably the biggest one, the third week. Whether you are doing exercise or a diet or whatever, the third week is often where things get on track for good or fall apart, never to recover. Continue reading

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

I have a pretty cool job. I teach martial arts and fitness classes. Basically, I get to play all day. I punch and kick and run and jump and just have fun. It’s pure movement, and it’s a blast. I’d wager most of my students really enjoy martial arts, and they like having just as much fun as I do. It’s great. I spend about 20% of my working day playing or supervising various martial arts themed ‘games’, little fun activities that increase skill.

It’s like martial arts videogames, but in real life!

I can’t think of too many negative aspects to my line of work. I suppose the hours are somewhat erratic at times, some children can be problematic and question authority, but on the whole it’s a good gig. Few things are more rewarding than teaching. That said, even caviar every day can become boring. Sometimes you need a break. Continue reading

The Appreciation Box

I got my first Christmas present today. Yes, I know it’s not Christmas yet, but I opened it. It was simply a Christmas card, plain and simple, though it had a gift card inside. I get these all the time. I am a martial arts instructor, and I’m in charge of the junior karate program. Every year a few students give me something, usually homemade, as a sign of gratitude. It’s a sweet sentiment.

It’s very sweet … even if it’s not actually my birthday yet.

This particular gift card was for Tim Horton’s, the Canadian coffee chain. This is slightly unfortunate, as I do not drink coffee. ‘Cannot’ is closer to the truth. I have a very limited sense of smell. The few things I can smell, I either really like them or really dislike them. Coffee is on the dislike list. Indeed, I think I can smell coffee more than any other thing. The scent is completely overpowering, so much so that I get headaches if I take a strong whiff. I cannot bring a cup of coffee close to my face, let alone drink it.

It’s not all bad, though. I can always get a donut, or, more often, I can give the card away. My family has enjoyed a lot of free coffees on me. Continue reading

On Inspiring Kids

I teach martial arts, primarily to children. That is the main demographic. Teenagers and adults do it too, and many fully enjoy it, but by and large kids are the ones that come through our door. That makes sense, because kids will see a movie or TV show featuring ninjas doing awesome moves and wants become ninjas themselves. Heck, I originally started in martial arts because of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Donatello was my favourite, but you had to admit Leo was badass.

In particular, I lead up the Junior Karate division of our school. This is for the 4 to 6 age group, and it teaches martial arts in a fast-paced, positive environment. I try to keep things fun and upbeat, while still retaining the focus, structure and discipline that one would expect from a karate class. I teach the basics through both drills and karate games. I like to think I do a good job, as the students generally enter and leave with happy faces.

Today I got much more substantial proof. Continue reading