Making Yourself accountable


Most times when I am both teaching and or training ……and having to think of a good way to explain something or get across a certain message, I find the words. Other times if you ask my students, I am most certain I miss the mark and I end up with a class of blank or bemused faces. Oops- time for another bad joke to cover my mess ? ha ha.   The times when I don’t get my point across is when one thought bounces to another quickly…then it makes me think of this idea or this story and it’s all a bit dis-jointed and a bit like a game of word association but in a different sense. My intention is good – I just get a bit excited sometimes.

Tonight though, my point was clear. Making yourself accountable is a great way to ensure you will follow through with something. Now, I consider myself a person of my word. If i say I will do something, I would consider it a dis-honor verging on humiliating if I don’t then do it. Of course there are times when I might not follow through- but those times are generally when events are somewhat out of my control. Ie : I said I would come to a party but then one of my kids get’s sick, or I said I would do the next tournament, but then I roll my ankle badly. Actually….I have competed (stupidly) whilst walking around on crutches after rolling my ankle on the Thursday night before the Kyokushin Nationals. It didn’t turn out well. Found myself against a much heavier (I would say 15 kgs heavier) Russian girl who pushed me around the ring. I didn’t have enough weight to hold my ground , but then I didn’t have the mobility to move around either so hence…….I lost after an extension. As I said…..I held my word and competed that time….but to my detriment. I lost, and my ankle has never healed properly since. Anyway….see how i digress. Monkey mind  :-)So….if you are a person of your word – make yourself accountable to something you wish to achieve and you will make it so. You will have to or risk the embarrassment and shame of not following through when you said you would. To someone who doesn’t care so much about their word…perhaps this strategy will not help, but hey, maybe it will bring out their best. And that’s what we hope for yes ?

Many business mentoring programs have systems where you have an ‘accountability person’ that you team up with. You touch base with this person each week (or whatever the program states) and you tell this person what steps you have taken within this week to get you towards your stated goal. They then do the same with you. It’s a great way of forcing you to be ready. We know we all step up the game when we ‘Have’ to. And when you know this person will be calling you – you will get stuff done. I do this often when I think perhaps I am slacking off or backing down from something I know I should do. In the dojo environment – I will announce to the class and my students something like ‘ I am grading at the end of this year’ and then suddenly – I have made a promise. Now- I have no choice and no excuse not to keep it. It’s a great drive . Perhaps simply telling a friend or work colleague a goal of yours is a good start. Maybe it’s…….I’m going to walk every day after lunch when I am in the office. Perhaps….even get them on-board so you can push each other on your off days. Again you are simply making yourself accountable for your actions by making a statement that you intend of keeping – now you are just recruiting someone to watch out for you – and someone you now have to answer to. Perhaps the more people you tell….the more powerful the drive. I suppose that never stopped a good politician- but then that’s another story.

Why don’t you try something small this week. Give yourself a little test.  What have you got to lose  ?

Have Fun and Happy Achieving !




Don’t be a Victim

Running in the night is an interesting experience. I have committed myself recently to a Kyokushin Karate Grading – my first in 11years – and am pushing myself to get fit. So…..for the first time in months, I put on my runners in between classes to head off for a short but ‘pushing it’ run. It’s not perhaps the ideal time to do this as running in the dark has it’s disadvantages, but with my schedule i struggle to find time and this is where i manage to make it. I joked with the students as I was leaving about the fact that I might be scared enough to make me run faster ! ha ha ha…….funny yes, but also slightly true. A couple of times when running alongside garden areas that were quite dark – the path was illuminated enough for me to just see – but I couldn’t help but think I would advise my friends/ loved ones / students not to run alone , in the dark, in situations like this. Really….for the most part it’s probably perfectly safe….but better extra careful than sorry i guess. Maybe I’ll run along the other side of the road next time. Despite the title of this article however – being safe and not being a victim of an attack on ones person is not the context of this article.

 The other wonderful thing about running in the dark is sensory relaxation. What I mean by that is that it’s quiet bar a few passing cars every now and then. I also don’t play music through headphones when I run in the dark…I think for safety it’s better to keep your senses working in full form. It’s dark…so you are not taking in the whole environment in it’s full visual form – you can see enough to keep you on track and prevent accidents- but you really just focus on what’s directly in front of you with your eyes. Your ears take in the rest of the peripheral. Because sensory input is reduced from the outside environment- you start to notice more things about yourself such as your breathing whilst you run.  You notice your stride and the sound of your feet hitting the ground beneath you. I like to try to run as lightly and quietly as I can. I’m not sure if it’s true… theory is that it’s better on my feet and knees and back and body as a whole if I can tread with least amount of impact. And then the mind. I have mentioned it in a previous blog article i am sure…but running can be meditation for the mind (ie : switching off or zoning out) but it can also be a time for clear thought. So ….on this night…..I got to thinking.

In martial arts we tell people to train a certain way and develop self defence strategies to prevent themselves falling victim to the attack of another. However, we can also be a victim of ourselves and our circumstance. I would also argue that self and current status are directly linked and almost one and the same. Recently I have had some challenges in my personal life. It’s meant that my lifestyle has gone from busy – to stupid I have no time for myself crazy tiring and bordering on self torture kind of busy. Im not going to list down what I do each day….but it’s a lot and I am well aware that at the moment I am in survival mode. Nothing is being progressed or built like it should be. Not my kids, not my personal relationships, not my business (dojo) or my ‘self’. At the moment they are all just being kept afloat , but  I have to remind myself daily that it’s an achievement that they are just that. See…I could of said it’s too hard…and quit on something. But I didn’t. That’s well and good and again I’m proud of myself , but then I found myself making excuses for things to others and internally to myself.

It’s at this point in time I really need to make some changes, but I realised that I was telling myself I was too busy and didn’t have time instead of the truth which is that I am afraid. I found myself saying to me that life was hard and oh this and that…and then I remembered that I chose this. I had the power to stop or add or change anything If I really wanted to. But that’ s the key. It’s turning that switch in your mind which sais I want to – to I HAVE to and then stopping yourself feeling a victim of circumstance. It’s so cliche’ to say that the very next minute which is passes , is the start of your new life if you chose it – but it’s the truth. Whatever decision we make to do next is based on weather or not we will continue to be a victim of our own thoughts, our own limitations (they are not other people’s by the way – they cannot be allowed to affect us unless we allow the to) , or a victim of our present circumstance. Of course – current position does play a part. I cannot just up and buy a new house without the money to do that. But…..I can keep rolling the victim story through my mind about how I ended up here… I will never be able to do this…..and why, or I can say NO.

We can also be a victim of our past. We allow ourselves to act a certain way and justify to ourselves and others with examples from our past such as….’ My last girlfriend cheated on me and that’s why I get angry and fight each time you go out with your friends’ or……’ Last time I fought in a tournament i got hurt, and that’s why I am not competing again’ . In the cheating girlfriend example however, the Victim continues the behavior and most likely get’s the same result. OR…..the warrior sais  hey, each person is different and allows themselves to trust again. Sure….you might get hurt…but you might not. What is worth the risk more ? and….this person also analyses if their behavior contributed to whatever transpired in the previous relationship and works on areas they can improve within themselves.

In the I got hurt last time i fought example…the Victim never competes again. Big loss all round . The warrior get’s themselves to training. Builds on their weaknesses and gears for battle and redemption knowing that losing is not failure….and they may well lose again….but they will get stronger and more determined with each battle. That in itself is victory.

It’s been 11 years since my last grading. In that time I have had 3 children and continued to dedicate my time to teaching students at my dojo. I am going to find it difficult to find the time to get ready for this grading and I am more than a little nervous about not being good enough….but i have decided no more excuses. If you want something badly enough….or have no choice but to do something… will find a way. And I will as I am not a victim !