In one of my interviews I was asked “Avi Nardia, who are you?” I answered to the host’s surprise “I’m a big failure… I’ve failed so many times that I lost the fear of losing which most people carry. Each failure brought me into a new place and a new adventure to study and improve.
It reminded me of my days monitoring new recruits in top Special Forces training around the world and from so many, only a few were selected. Some didn’t even manage to get through the first stage, and I used to tell people that most took that failure so hard, carrying that feeling of inadequacy in a bad way. My exhortation has always been – some people make it to the unit, and some make it in LIFE. Many people don’t understand that the purpose of life is to live… as simple as it sounds, no one who is a Navy seal or special forces is a success in life. Rambo is a fictitious character in a movie, but it’s really true that many carry emotional burdens and post-traumatic stress. To be a hero is not normal… being human is normal and so many pay with mental trauma and damage to family relationships by taking it to the extreme. Many people who didn’t go into Special Forces will be lawyers, writers, IT professionals and so on. Most will make way more money than if they had been in a Special Forces unit without having risked each day of their lives, undergoing constant physical and mental stress. Success is finding the right thing that you really wanted and pursuing it. I can agree with Robin Williams when he says that people don’t fake depression… they fake being okay.
Most people put up a façade, acting like everything is good in their life, but inside they’re afraid to fail. We want to see heroes, we need champions and society motivates people to be the biggest and the best and that’s why many always live in a state of constant competition, comparing themself to others while the true secret is to compare yourself to yourself yesterday and see how you progress from day to day.
We see it in sports and martial arts as everyone gets to their first class and the first question is “how long will it take me to get my Black Belt?” From the first class, they are already looking for victory and that’s where they are lost, and we see many that don’t understand the real reason you join class is to study. Their first mistake is that they didn’t come to study, they came to earn a medal or try and prove their worth, many times because they are missing something deep inside, something that even becoming a champion and black belt will never solve because the issue is deep inside themselves.
When we study to fail and accept that failure, we study to win and how to deal with victory. There is a great quote again by Robin Williams – “Cocaine is God’s way of telling you, you’re making too much money.”
Many times, when people win the lottery or get rich overnight, they never study how to deal with that and ultimately, it destroys their life.
In martial arts, I’ve seen many great people who, after winning and becoming a champion, they turn into a different person, putting on a new mask that they may not like. In the words of Jean Jacques Machado – “It’s great to train hard and become a champion, but it is greater to become a good human being.”
Those who have lived a full life and who have reached old age can look back on their lives and see their mistakes and smile. Some mistakes may have led to a new discovery or could have even been the source of fun and enjoyment. Certainly, most will look back and think better to have been sorry for what mistakes I have made than sorry I didn’t make those mistakes when I could… As we get older, we begin to see life in different ways and take our experiences as one long study of a well lived life. We don’t take failure hard as in the example before of the Navy Seal recruit, we smile and say “wow, god loves me enough that I failed and still managed be successful in the corporate world!” We see that the same failure that we thought was a setback and bad, in reality took us to a new place, gave us new success and a new study.
Pursuing martial arts is a life-long study and not just a study for competition.
Not all people can be champions or Special Forces, but everyone can be his or her own family hero and success… many of us have been Special Forces or hero but failed when it came to the most important things in life.
We fail, we study and when we get older and look back we see we collected so many failures that they become our greatest victory to win and manage to live life and stand up after each time we fall and that’s the real measure of a champion.
People come and go in your life, but the person in the mirror will always be there, so be good to yourself because if you’re friends with yourself, you will never be alone. Understand the Zen mindset and concepts for life and they will server as a tool in your martial arts journey.