Story Saturdays: Feb. 27
I spoke a little bit about losing last week, and how it was like to deal with failure. This week, I want to talk about success. Not success in the traditional sense, but success in the way that you want to define it. Especially in a world as chaotic as ours is now, how I define success is crucial to, at a minimum, maintaining sanity. Sometimes, on the especially bright days, success can even bring me joy.
The first thing that I realized about success is that it could be pointed towards the process as opposed to the outcomes. This is a common saying to focus on the process, but hardly anyone ever shows what it means.
In my personal experience, the process has always been something like breaking things down into excruciating detail, and then building it back up again for the big picture strategy. Take, for example, my desire to learn a new sweep from an intermediate-level guard position. Usually, if I’m interested in something, I’ll look at the move from several different modalities — video, book, audio — and then let it seep into my brain and body in different ways: through drilling, writing notes, and dialogue. I’ll visualize the move in my brain before I go to bed, or I’ll find an example of it being done at competition.
Is this the most efficient way? Does it actually work? Those answers only matter if all you care about is the success rate of the move. More important questions to me, when I focus on the process, is to ask myself things like:
Do I know why I want to or like to do this move?
Have I considered what could go wrong in this technique?
How did I feel when I was trying it out?
Even if the technique did not “work,” how could I use my partner’s reaction to calibrate myself differently next time?
How did the technique interact with the type of person that I’m trying it on?
Can I explain this move to a beginner and have them substantially understand?
In some ways, the process is inextricably tied an outcome. But, at the same time, a focus on the process is further away from a fixation on an end result. It takes a broader perspective on what’s happening, which means that the answer oftentimes is not a simple yes or no.
Uncertainty is a fertile ground for learning.
Don’t get me wrong: I love solving problems. I love winning and succeeding. Yet in the course of working through the many possibilities that life can throw at me, I’ve recognized that in the end, my value comes not from results, but from experience.
Thanks for reading Story Saturdays.
The Mental Arts