Use Patience as Your Force to Succeed

Yoda said it best to Luke Skywalker during their Jedi training sessions in the Star Wars epic: “You must have patience!” This smart piece of advice can be applied to all areas of self improvement. the challenge people often face when making a personal change is the lack of immediate results and gratification. This delay can lead to unrealized goals. David Yukelson, Ph.D., a sports psychologist at Penn State says, “The athlete has to make a commitment to the process.” Self improvement goals involve mental and physical changes ( or both ) that just don’t happen overnight. Yukelson continues, “If the results just don’t come quickly, he or she has to be able to relax and let the changes in performance develop over a period of time.” Your ability to be patient while sticking to your goal achievement strategy is essential to overall success.

Although both physical and mental changes can be very challenging to achieve, mental changes are arguably the hardest to realize. Anybody who is out of shape physically doesn’t expect to walk out of a gym looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger after a few workouts. Yet many people expect instant mental transformations. Brent Rushall, Ph. D., a professor at San Diego State University, says, “The idea that a single visit to a sports psychologist will correct all deficiencies or that an inspirational talk will correct attitude problems are example of misconceptions. If mental skills are to be produced or enhanced, the effort and time that are required to make a change should at least be equal to that needed to effect physical changes.”

In the martial arts, mental and physical changes are occurring at the same time. In terms of the relative speed with which the changes happen, however, physical changes can be made more quickly than mental changes. Yukelswon also states, “everything, including mental, emotional and physical aspects, has to come together to effect a change… those elements may or may not converge at the same time. Patience is a key characteristic to change.” A person can become comfortable with basic martial arts techniques before scratching the surface of understanding the mental philosophy. The concept of patience, however, is built into martial arts training in the form of the ranking system. the ranking system teaches students to break down long term goals ( black belt ) into smaller achievable goals ( color belts ). This makes it easier for students to have realistic expectations with respect to their progress.

Another challenge that people face in making is thinking that knowing what to do will automatically create change. Rushall points out, “We can easily observe other types of behavior in society that are not changed in spite of knowledge. Alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use as well as weight control come to mind.” People must take action with knowledge, otherwise the result will surely be failure. A simple example of this point is that st6udents know that it’s important to attend class regularly but some students need help with time management. The critical concept here is that most of us know what we need to do to achieve our goals but other variables can manipulate our ability to follow through. Recognizing this personal roadblock, engaging patience and following through on the initial commitment is what it will take to be successful.

Martial arts instructors attempt to develop both physical and mental skills of students. These are not lessons that can be rushed despite students enthusiasm for immediate results. Even Yoda, while training Luke Skywalker, needed to teach that there was no way to hurry the development of Skywalker’s Jedi skills. Patience is every students greatest ally in the quest for personal growth.