Become the Constant in the Equation

“We do not rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training.”

One need not be a mathematician to understand that it is impossible to solve an equation with more variables than constants. Yet, when faced with difficult situations in our lives, we often place upon ourselves this unreasonable expectation. Sadly, misguided expectations form the basis of much of the disappointment and frustration we experience and moreover, prevent us from reaching our potential.

How then, do we achieve our goals when we have more variables than constants? How do we make informed decisions, respond properly in dynamic situations, and make progress when life’s equations seem unsolvable? The answer is simple….you, must become the constant in the equation.

I have been fortunate to witness several martial art matches involving true masters, many of whom were more than sixty years of age. Invariably, I saw the masters effortlessly defeat younger, more physically fit and capable opponents. In many instances, the master was simultaneously sparring multiple opponents! It appeared to me that the opponents were attacking in slow motion, and that the master was anticipating their attacks as if choreographed. Having myself been the “victim” of such encounters, I can assure you this was not the case begging the question, “how can one individual so completely control an encounter containing so many variables (opponents)?

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Analysis Paralysis

According to Wikipedia, the phrase describes a situation where the opportunity cost of decision analysis exceeds the benefits that could be gained by enacting some decision, or an informal or non-deterministic situation where the sheer quantity of analysis overwhelms the decision-making process itself, thus preventing a decision. That to me is just a long-winded way to say dysfunctional! Here’s how to avoid analysis paralysis in your life.

Many intelligent and driven people suffer from Analysis Paralysis. It is important to note that making a conscious decision not to act, is different from analysis paralysis. Analysis paralysis is the inability to take action because you cannot select between and among options. The former is healthy, the latter dysfunctional. To reach our potential we need to identify ways to eliminate analysis paralysis.

In the martial arts, the failure to act is generally met with an immediate and unfavorable result – fist meet face comes to mind. To avoid such occurrences, good instructors teach new students only a few basic techniques so that the selection process is essentially negated. When you only have one block, and one strike, your choices are limited. Moreover, these techniques are continuously drilled so that the student can perform them on an unconscious level. By virtue of their simplicity, students are able to understand and apply the techniques and thereby lay the foundation of an effective self-defensive capability. Students taught in this manner do not fall prey to analysis paralysis because there are no decisions to make. Instead, they unconsciously act using the basic techniques they have acquired.

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