The Minds of Balanced Life Skills Black Belts

What does it mean to be a Balanced Life Skills Black Belt?

As Balanced Life Skills students and instructors:

  • We practice with a positive attitude and focus
  • We set goals for ourselves and take actions to meet those goals
  • We practice compassion for both ourselves and others
  • We practice awareness of our thoughts, words and actions on ourself and others.
  • We practice respect for all life forms.

Our practice is not just about the physical. Our practice is about creating peace for ourselves and our community.

Balanced Life Skills is looking for students and parents who are of the same mind. Join us in our efforts to create peace in ourselves, family and community.

Open-mindedness: trying new things

Recently we had a motivational speaker visit our school and he told me how he asks young children How many of you know how to color?  They go wild telling him how they know how to color.  Then he asks them How many of you know how to dance?  Again the same reaction.  But when speaking to a group of executives at a large conference he asked the same question and the question received a very timid response, many of them waiting to see if someone else was going to put their hand up.

As many of us get older we become very concerned about what others think and if we are going to fit in.  In fact it many times stops us from trying new things or looking at new ways of doing something.  What do you think goes through someones mind when they are thinking about trying something new, whether it is an idea, getting to know someone new or a new food?  Well I am not sure if this is everything, but I am sure they are wondering if they are going to like it, is it going to be easy, am I going to be good at it, are others going to laugh at me or it looks a bit scary.

Someone once said, ” Don’t fear failure so much that you refuse to try new things.  The saddest summary of a life contains three descriptions:  could have, might have, and should have.”  I would be surprised if I ever met anyone who told me that they have never spoken those words.  But wouldn’t it be a shame if we got to the end of our life and we said I should have tried to be an artist?  I should have learned to play an instrument.  I wish I had earned my black belt.

Most of the time the stories we make up in our head are worse than the reality.  Once we get ourselves involved then we enjoy it much more than we even imagined.  You will never know if you are going to like something until you try it and we must remember that even our favorite food or thing to do was once new to us.  So here is the question for all of us.  What is the answer when a person is fearful or nervous about trying something that they are not used too?  As a friend or a leader how can we help?  How about you as an individual, what could you try this month that would challenge one of your fears?

Overcoming commitment obstacles

Any goal or challenge that we have will have its good days and bad days. We will have time when everything is going right and we feel on top of the world and then there will be other times that ‘nothing’ is going right and we may feel like giving up.

Neither of these extremes are the whole picture. We will have these perceived ups and downs. But in reality whatever is happening in this moment will probably change in another moment. The only thing that will not change is you.

We can still feel challenged though as we continue to strengthen our level of commitments. When we have times that we are not feeling the best about is the time to be sure to talk to someone who can encourage us, keep the end goal in mind, think about some of your heroes in life and ask yourself how would they handle this.

You are responsible for the way you feel about any given situation. I read a story some time ago about 2 drivers who were sitting in traffic after the earthquake in California. The traffic was 3 times as bad as usual. One of the drivers was very angry and voiced his opinion fervently. The other had left earlier than usual, had brought a book, some snacks, and was generally prepared for the long drive. His attitude was that he was sure his boss would understand if he were late.

How we look at things determines our attitude and can keep us on course or lead us to quitting. Of course if we quit we will never reach our goal, keep our commitment, but if we are willing to ask for help, talk to ourselves they way we would talk to a friend and remind ourselves about the progress we have made so far, we will gain the strength we need to stay the course and be inspired to keep our promises.

““I can’t” is not a reason to give up, it’s a reason to try harder.”

Read about Mr. Joe’s commitment to the Ultimate Black Belt Test that started in January 2009 and will be completed with the final test in February 2010. He recently committed to the “Live Like a Champion” journey that begins in January 2010. His journal is My Journey.

Rewards for keeping commitments

Everyone of us has had a time when someone promised to do something for us and then did not keep that promise. How did it make you feel? Frustrated, angry, let down? We have also experienced, hopefully more often, the times when promises were kept and our feelings were the exact opposite. We were relieved, happy, and felt like we knew someone we could rely on.

If we are a young child and we promise mom and dad that we will clean our room and then we keep that commitment – without being asked to do it again and again – your parents are feeling very happy about you being so responsible and trustworthy. Believe me as a child this is a good thing for parents to feel this way!

At the same time when we keep a promise like that we can say to ourselves that we know we are dependable and that we can reach our goals, because we stick to our commitments. Guess what? The same is true for adults! The people around us begin to trust us and see us as leaders and reliable when we keep our commitments. It makes a big difference.

If we break our commitments though others may not feel that they can trust us, they may be upset with us and it will impact the lives of many other individuals. It also has a big impact on ourselves and how we feel about ourselves. When we keep promises to ourselves there is a pride and feeling of accomplishment. Here is a quick example. When it is time for me to do my work out I sometimes do not feel like doing it. Have you ever felt that way? But as soon as I get started it is OK – but when I am done I feel so good about accomplishing a task that I committed to my instructor and have made known to the entire community I would do.

You will feel the same when you keep a commitment to yourself and to others.

Read about Mr. Joe’s commitment to the Ultimate Black Belt Test that started in January 2009 and will be completed with the final test in February 2010. He recently committed to the “Live Like a Champion” journey that begins in January 2010. His journal is My Journey.

Keeping your commitment

When times get tough or things get hard on some front, it is very easy for us to release ourselves from a commitment. When we are good at something, or when it is fun or when we just love doing it and we get rewarded in some manner that meets our needs then it is easy to keep our commitment. In fact we will fight for the ability to keep our promises to ourselves and others.

But when things get hard or doesn’t come as easy as it use to, or we are feeling a bit bored by the activity, or a friend is no longer a part of the activity, then these are obstacles that we need to fight our way through. If we were to give up for one of those reasons we will not reach the goals we originally set out to accomplish.

What would you do if you made a commitment and now were having trouble with it? First we need to be sure that we are talking to ourselves the way we would a friend. We would want to encourage ourselves and give a little pep talk. We would never hang out with someone who constantly told us that we could not do something. So I would suggest that we should not talk to ourselves that way either. Second get some extra help, which means we may have to decide what we need and then be willing to ask for it.

Ultimately we are responsible for our choices. Napoleon Hill said, “Effort only fully releases its reward after a person refuses to quit.” Connecting success with commitment is paramount to staying the course. Ask yourself if there are other distractions or poor influences that you must choose to deal with so that you can keep your commitment.

Read about Mr. Joe’s commitment to the Ultimate Black Belt Test that started in January 2009 and will be completed with the final test in February 2010. He recently committed to the “Live Like a Champion” journey that begins in January 2010. His journal is My Journey.

Keeping our commitments – a personal story

It is very interesting that when I talk to our students about subjects dealing with character, it always make me stop and think about myself. We have been talking about why it is easy to keep our promises to ourselves and others and why it can be hard sometimes too.

It is always easy when it is fun, or we are good at something or if we just love doing it or being around the people we are involved with. On the other hand it is a lot harder when it is something that we do not understand or is boring to us. There really are 3 things that get in our way of keeping a commitment.

I read recently that they are considerations, fears and roadblocks. I have noticed with myself that many times that all three of them get in the way many times all together.

First you have the negative talk, considerations, that happen and you can quickly come up with all the reasons you cannot do something. That many times can lead to fear which are feelings. They may include fear of failure or rejection (two that I battle all of the time). Then of course as soon as the first road block comes up your fears are realized and you are sure that your original considerations were true and so you get frozen.

Now back to promises. The promises we make to ourselves are very important. I have promised to complete the Ultimate Black Belt Test the best way I know how or better than I know how at this moment. I must learn how to overcome the considerations, fear and roadblocks to keep this promise. No matter what comes up I must overcome the negative voice, the fears, and those roadblocks that are bound to get in the way.