Pyramid Philosophical

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


Originally published in 1995

  • The advice that follows was originally written for someone who is probably a more mature adult with young children and trying to mix family responsibilities with their own training. The sport is Taekwon-Do, the Korean martial art. Circumstances such as these are very specific though the content here could equally apply to many other circumstances.
A little guidance to keep you on course: don't look too far ahead and only focus on your next goal. Your overall objective may be the same, but leave that for the future. You must first do what is immediately next to move onwards and forwards. You may feel it necessary to put another's needs ahead of your own and so hijacking your time. Be careful. I am not suggesting everything else comes no better than second place, but a reordering of personal issues may allow you to give your own needs the respect they deserve. By all means you should set yourself high standards but you should ease up a little to lay off the pressure you may be imposing on yourself by trying to stay on an old timeline that's no longer right for you.

You should occasionally review your situation. Your goals may be much the same but the timeline may need changing. To continue at a rate simply to stay on a target set some time ago is not always a good thing. Shift the balance a little to incorporate the needs of today and not those of yesterday. What you need to do may be the same, but to remain in control some adjustments may be needed. Do not let events control you. Take time to think and focus your thoughts. What is really important? Is it getting what you want in a set time or just getting what you want - even if it takes longer? Working towards others' deadlines is sometimes difficult and it may become necessary to set your own time so allowing you to back off a little to give yourself time. What is the rush? You can be in danger of imposing unnecessary pressures upon yourself. With everything else that may need to be done it becomes unfair on yourself. Don't feel the need to rush ahead just to keep on a self-imposed time table. By being self-imposed you have the authority to change it. Use your time wisely. Give yourself time to appreciate your own wisdom and to be aware of how far you have come and what lies ahead. How close it can seem and yet so far to achieving your goal. It should be expected. If you need longer then take longer.

  • Don't impose limits
  • Don't give yourself reasons why you should not do something only reasons why you should
  • Don't expect perfection
  • Don't ask too much of yourself - just do your best
  • Don’t worry about unimportant events when you need to concentrate on the immediate
  • Don't adopt others’ problems
  • Don’t get angry with yourself. It doesn’t help
  • Do be very clear to others how important it is that you succeed
  • Do try to identify what needs changing and have the courage to change it
It is risky to assume a viewpoint without reasoning. Most of what follows is built on that theme. But first to recap:

  • You should review your situation to remove pressures.
  • Your overall objective may be the same but focus only on the next goal and deal with only one thing at a time, though not at the exclusion of other critical factors.
  • You must have an action plan to follow that puts your own needs on a high priority and a schedule determined by you. This way you stay in control.
  • You should assess your own improvement from what you do now and how you do it in the future. You against you – your own personal best. Repeat successful performances but remember distractions can work against you.
I believe in developing the whole person and that to get the best from people you cannot separate work, training, family responsibilities and all such things that we all do. It's a 24 hour period of life - everyday. Everything is connected with everything else. Important personal issues cannot be neglected just to chase a particular goal. This may be acceptable to some, but for others it’s simply not realistic. Although several strands of life maybe moving towards success and fulfillment, they are not necessarily related. Each one will affect another. You may modify one situation to fit with the others. You may alter several issues to fit in with a more immediately important one. In most cases decisions that have been made should be carried out. Later decisions are dependent on what you have decided earlier. Don't change your mind. Keep to the road. That way everything can be progressed together and each separate strand run in parallel with the others. If you constantly change your mind then you could get into an awful muddle. Of course, events can enter your life unexpectedly and throw everything into disarray, but most situations can be calmly sorted out to get back on your general course.

Are you sure you really know where you want to go? You must focus on one thing at a time since you cannot target many goals at once. Just take each immediately important event in isolation and give it your best. It becomes another piece of the jigsaw of life to be fitted later. Follow your "gut feeling". Trust in yourself. Have faith in your own abilities to get the job done. This “gut feeling“ is something that you accept or not. It is very personal.

  • The concept of "gut feeling" seems to involve a mysterious inner knowledge. It is possible that a consciously forgotten connection exists that is still recognised as a subconscious effect. The subconscious can appear to 'know' certain material features that may have been overlooked. Some events are not originally acknowledged and so cannot be forgotten as they were never known. Some occurrences are consciously forgotten, but remain in memory as 'forgotten', though are known facts. These are the memories of "gut feel".
I believe in it and have come to respect and trust this feeling. I cannot always explain why what I feel I "know" to be the right action. Sometimes situations defy analysis. If the subjective "gut feeling" is good then I will go with it even if, objectively, the limited available information suggests otherwise. Confidence in a decision is something that grows with experience.

Have you ever noticed how little the front wheels of a car need to turn to follow the road. To keep you on course may need also very little. Whatever you look at you will probably veer toward. Sometimes the very thing you want to avoid you will meet. The trick is to ignore any distraction, almost as if wearing blinkers. Focus on your goal and you will move toward that in the same way. It's probably true that 90% of any job can be achieved in 10% of the time, but that last 10% takes 90% of the time and that overnight success takes about 10 years. It's at times like these that it becomes more difficult to stay motivated. You should force a break every once in a while to avoid stagnation. Some activities don't have any natural breaks and we have to impose them ourselves.

Self-awareness will become more apparent and it can have an important influence on performance. You will become more self-aware and your self-critical nature will become more pronounced as training progresses. You will no longer be just doing, but noticing more of what you are doing and what you are not doing. You can be improving, but it may seem like the opposite. A break allows you to return with a better awareness of the improvement you thought you were not making. Also, you will be very much aware of the specific problems you may have and particularly what needs to be worked on. Can you identify your stressful times or those things that bother you? These are distractions you must deal with so that you can then get on with your training. It's important. It's life. Deal with the root of a problem and it will disappear. Deal with a symptom and the problem will remain to come back someday. Keep life simple. It can be. If you try to juggle too many things at once you will ultimately fail. Make a problem difficult and it will become so. Thoughts can be invasive, but only if you talk to yourself and attempt to deal with them. Let the thoughts come and go and try not to examine them. Don't try to suppress them either. This gives them a solidity they don't deserve and concentrates the mind on them. That's what you don't want to do.

Have you ever read something or been in the company of someone who has said something that didn’t seem particularly significant at the time, but which later you realise had altered your perceptions? Sometimes you know an answer or think you do without knowing why. It's curious, but how can you be sure it is the right answer? Maybe it's just a long standing thought and not necessarily even your own! When you then logically think that argument through, you may arrive at a completely different answer to the one you originally used to think. It may be that later in life your attitudes have changed or you later know something you didn't know earlier, but you never changed your automatic response. Examine your beliefs by introspection. Always be prepared to change the way you used to do this or think that. You will in many cases find you still agree with the original belief, but if you don’t then be brave and consciously change that opinion. Sometimes it needs courage to question your own beliefs.

If you find out you're wrong don't perpetuate a mistake. Sometimes we change our attitudes and the way we do things without even being aware of it. Think of the route to your goal as a road to experience that has further stops on the way. You cannot detour from this road or take a short cut but must progress onward through these stops to get to your destination. Sometimes you may well be able to go around an obstacle. If you examine the things you do then there is probably not much that you don't really want to do. Some things may not be as exciting as others, but you do still want to do them. There are most likely some things that you would never do, but I bet you do everything else because you want to. Try not to view critical comment as criticism. It's not. It's the opportunity for self-improvement. The challenge is there. If a comment is made that you don’t agree with or is not true or is unfair then ignore it. It does require honesty to self. I believe that is one of the most important things in life. Being true to oneself. If you can't do that you cannot be honest with others.

If I give a promise then I will do whatever it is that was promised. Nothing will divert me from that promise. If I feel that I cannot provide an assurance then I won't give it. This is a very simple personal code. If something is important it will wait for your attention. Some things will go away. Were they really important? Experiment. Try out various things. Practise and it‘ll get better. It's how we all develop. Do be careful that you practise good form because if you practise a mistake, all you will get is an expertise at making that error. You can be conscious of being watched and it's in the mind, but is still a distraction. If you are aware of your surroundings then you cannot give it your all as only part of you is concentrating on the immediate. Try out new ideas. Consolidate things that work. Drop things that are not possible. But are you sure? Many things you may feel unable to do, but that shouldn't be reason enough to stop trying. Nothing should deter you from getting to where you want to go. This is what you need. However, if something is not physically possible, then don't waste time trying to do it. Concentrate more on what you do well, not on what you don't do well.

It is important to use your knowledge. To teach. To advise. To guide and most importantly to be supportive. It's important to help others consolidate what they know. Old attitudes are slow to catch up with progressive ideas, but any change must be for a good reason, not just for change's sake. Question attitudes and ask why something should be done in a particular way. Think for yourself. Sometimes you may do something because you have to, though if you were asked to do something you felt was wrong would you still do it? Tell yourself that you can handle anything and use whatever it takes to stay interested. Avoid those things you don't want to do, but keep training. Many people avoid the things they do WANT because of the connections with those things they don't. Make sure of what you want and move towards it. Focus: it gives you direction and enhances your determination.

Work through what you want. Once you have identified your ideals then you can work your way carefully towards your goal. If there is anything in your way either go around it or simply remove it. Bite the bullet and state your aims. It is not always easy. It is harder to carry out a difficult decision that will give you what you want than to continue doing something else that will divert you from your purpose. Many people fail and have a miserable time because they cannot act. They don't realise how different things can be.

Do what is right not just what is easiest

It's acting maybe for the right reason but using the wrong solution. Mostly we provide our own solutions to our problems. Remember though to make sure your ladder of success is up against the right wall. You don't want to find out that when you think you've made it you've actually achieved the wrong goal.

Your ladder up against the wrong wall!

  • Remember: any journey must start with the first step and success is only a journey. It is not a destination you can ever reach.


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