You see a mousetrap; I see free cheese and a fucking challenge! -Scroobius Pip

Pretty funny! Mr. Pip does have a point, though. Life is full of challenges and a mousetrap may seem like an irresistible challenge for those inclined to look for challenges. In looking back at my life, I realize that I have been prone to taking on challenges. Perhaps it stems from having been born nearly deaf in both ears. Or it could have been part of my personality all along.

In any case, it seems that I thrive on challenges. For example, despite having a 6th-degree black belt in one art, I chose to start all over again as a white belt in another art.

I also chose to give up a good career in Columbus, Ohio to move to Canada and start all over again. A supposed friend in Columbus exclaimed to me in an incredulous voice “What? You’re over 40! You’re going to have to start all over!

I guess that he just didn’t understand that life without challenges is boring.

What are the five reasons to challenge yourself?

(1) To get out of your comfort zone:  Staying in your comfort zone is the default mode for many people and it’s human nature. Getting out of your comfort zone can cause anxiety. So what? Get out of there and become alive! See what you are made of! If you don’t get out of your comfort zone, you’ll never find out what your limits are! I have known people who did not want to test for martial arts rank because they were stuck in their comfort zone and did not want to face the challenges and uncertainty of a test. Consequently, they never found out what they were capable of. 

(2) Do you want to end up on your deathbed saying “I wish that I had done this?”: You’re going to regret doing the “same old same old” every day and not trying to stretch your horizons and challenging yourself as a human being. After all, we have only a finite amount of time on this planet.

(3) To go beyond your own limits: One of the themes underlying Star Trek: TNG was the limitations of the human species through the characters of Q and Lieutenant Commander Data. The former was always arrogantly and condescendingly lamenting the limitations of the human species and being surprised by Captain Picard and his crew several times. Data, on the other hand, showed a desire to exceed his original computer programming in an effort to become more human. He never gave up on his quest. 

Neither should we. Find new ways to challenge yourself and stretch your limits. Learn new skills or push yourself physically. Find something that really challenges you!

(4) Go for failure: going for a challenge will usually have one of two outcomes, both of which will be beneficial. The first outcome is that you succeed. If you do, congratulations. You’ve overcome a fear, a barrier, an obstacle and expanded your limits. If you fall flat on your face, so what? You have tried and failed. There’s ALWAYS a lesson in every failure. Failure can result in greater growth than success. 

If you don’t challenge yourself, you are not going to get anywhere. If you challenge yourself, you will grow from the experience whether you fail or succeed.

So what do you have to lose?

If you’re concerned about falling flat on your face in public or being embarrassed in front of family or friends, bear in mind this famous quote by Theodore Roosevelt:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

(5) You have just ONE life: Many take this for granted. You only have a finite amount of time on this planet. Make the most of it. You have two choices:

• make the most of it or go through the motions every day.

• You can find challenges for yourself or remain complacent.

• You can go for 5-year plans or go for 5-minute plans.

• Procrastinate or do it NOW.

• Do the same thing or change your routine.

• Play it safe or dare to do something different!

Do the same old dance or hit the quan! 🙂

KC Chiefs Tight End Travis Kelce “hitting the quan” after scoring a touchdown in a recent game.

There is a lot of overlap in the above 5 reasons to challenge yourself. I hope that one of them spoke to you. Pick one and apply it to your martial arts life!

Be Inspired! Train Hard!


One thought on “5 Reasons to Challenge Yourself

  • January 2, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    Hi Brian, I really like this post – it manages to be encouraging and inspiring; but also a little scary at the same time (just to be clear, scary is by NO means a bad thing in this case; in fact I think it’s quite healthy to really understand how high the stakes are, when it comes to making the most of every moment versus playing it safe).

    Btw I think you’ve given six good reasons actually not five, but one of them is embedded in your intro – “I guess that he just didn’t understand that life without challenges is boring”. That is so true!! And the reverse of course – a life full of challenges is awesome, even if it also entails some mistakes etc, as you say . . .


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: