In the Tao of Jeet Kune Do, Bruce Lee said “Training is one of the most neglected phases in athletics. Too much time is given to the development of skill and too little to the development of the individual for participation.” What does a martial artist turned movie star have to say about our life pursuits? It turns out a lot… for people who seek to perform at a high level.
It is easy to recognize well-trained elite athletes. These athletes move with a grace and ease that unfortunately belies the incredible amount of coaching and training behind it. Consequently, we underestimate the effort required to tackle a new life project. Somehow we expect that changing careers or overcoming years of self-defeating chatter can be done instantly.
The gap between who we want to be and who we are is often the “training grind”. In boxing, it’s spending hours in the gym skipping rope, running, hitting the heavy bag. In a career change, it’s spending hours reading books, taking courses, researching for new positions. The attribute of being able to patiently and persistently do what it takes despite how tough it feels is a key characteristic of any individual seeking success.
More critical than doing the training is the way in which training is done. In badminton, I spent ten years practicing with an improper grip which severely limited my ability to generate power in my shots. As one of my instructors quipped, “Practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.” Every person needs a means of checking, verifying, and improving their training.
Athletics training is more easily understood because it is visible and concrete. But its concepts are as readily applicable to training the way in which we think or feel. For example, one client wanted to develop greater compassion. The training in this case was practicing it with people in day to day life. Checking the training involved reflecting on the client’s behaviour and finding out the impact of actions taken.
In addition to doing training and being aware of how training is done, progression is another key aspect of training. Elite athletes are continuously pushing the limits of their ability. By constantly operating at the edge of their competency, they learn to develop ever greater abilities. Likewise, we must be willing to risk failing by tackling larger and larger challenges. The reward is an ever increasing ability to shape our lives and choose our future.
Although training seems difficult or tedious, in the long-run it is enormously satisfying. Runners talk about a runner’s high. The seasoned learner sees each moment as another opportunity to think and act better than before. Training becomes a way of life. As Bruce Lee said, “Training deals not with an object, but with the human spirit and human emotions. It takes intellect and judgment to handle such delicate qualities as these.”
Chris Hsiung BSc. ACC
Chris Hsiung graduated with distinction from the University of Calgary in Electrical Engineering. He is an internationally certified professional coach through the Coaches Training Institute (CTI). He is learning, teaching, presenting curriculum through Leadership Calgary. Currently he runs a practice (U Venture) guiding and coaching professionals who are choosing to engage in pioneering life challenges