Recently I read this article in the New York Times about Mikaela Shiffrin, an 18 year old skiing prodigy. See Article.

Mikaela Shiffrin is the youngest American skier to be a World Cup Champion. The article details her unusual background and her mother’s coaching methodology. I was pleased to see that Mikaela and her mother chose to focus on the process, instead of the outcome. In relevant part, the article states:

“Not surprisingly, any predetermined strategy was remarkably elemental and always focused on process, not results. Jeff and Eileen, former college-level racers, believed in basic tenets, like keeping a light race schedule for their children as they loaded up on practice days filled with deliberate, skills-based drills and exercises.”

Further: “The message, the Shiffrins insist, is that their approach, which stressed skill development and shunned goal setting, and always involved the family, has been the secret. If there was a secret.” My emphasis.

Let’s go back to that: “deliberate, skills-based drills and exercises” and “stressed skill development and shunned goal setting.”

Too often, I see people too focused on achieving rank and wanting to know how long it would take to become a black belt. While it’s admirable to have a goal (I’m going to get a black belt), many just over look the process involved. In other words, they are “outcome oriented” rather than “process oriented.” Focus on the skill and rank will take care of itself.

There are two great examples. Steve Jobs was well known for being obsessive over every detail of Apple’s products and stating that he wanted to produce “insanely great products.” This was reflected in the iPods, iPhones, and iPads that Apple sold under his leadership. With such obsessive attention to detail to making great products (process), the bottom line (outcome/profit margin) took care of itself.

Ted Williams aka The Splendid Splinter, is regarded as one of the greatest hitters in the history of baseball. He was well known for obsessively practicing his swing. He tweaked his swing here and there. He weighed baseball bats to ensure that they were of the correct weight. He practiced and practiced more. He invested himself in the process of perfecting his swing. The result is that he is the last player to hit .400 in a season and has the highest batting average in the live ball era (beginning with the 1920 season). He was more invested in the process (his swing) than the outcome (batting average).

The same holds true for martial arts. One of the wonderful things about Modern Arnis are the numbers of drills designed to develop skills. A good example is the slap off/pull off drill, which I have my students perform nearly every class.

This is one of the staples of Modern Arnis. There are so many facets to this drill ranging from timing, use of the check hand, footwork, defensive positioning, developing reaction time, control,  and much more. I have found it to be a good barometer of skill. This is a great developmental drill. It is not combat. It is a drill designed to develop skill. This is a process oriented drill than an outcome based drill. If you cannot perform this drill, then how can you reasonably be assured of success in a self defense situation?

Process, not outcome.

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