It’s easy to tell yourself that you’re training hard when in actual fact you’re slacking off. I find myself doing it far too often for my liking. If in the kendojo I’m fighting beginners, I might fend off attacks in order to get them to try and work out why they are unsuccessful. Nothing necessarily wrong with that, but if that’s all I do, then I’m slacking. More effective for the both of us would be if I tried to fight at a level slightly above theirs and encourage them to rise to that standard.
If I’m not really trying, I notice myself falling into bad habits. I let my feet move move lazily, I block without trying to counter, if the first strike fails, I may not immediately make a second or third effort (all of these rob you of the ability to take advantage of opportunities) – these things are physical manifestations of mental laziness. When I see others being lazy, I take them to task for it. When I find myself doing it, it annoys me. It makes me feel like a hypocrite.
If I don’t put in the effort, then I don’t learn anything, but possibly worse is that my training partner isn’t learning anything, and if you think they don’t pick up on the fact that you’re not putting in 100%, think again. I don’t want to be the person that teaches others that a half-hearted effort is okay. Moreover, by doing this, you are saying ‘you have nothing to teach me’.
You can learn from anyone. This has been proven to me time and again, both in the software testing field and in kendo. Insights can come from the most unlikely sources. Think about the questions people ask (before you rattle off a rote answer). Observe what they do and ask them why.
It’s not easy to alway make the extra effort, but it is something you can train yourself to do. Like anything, there’s that initial force of will required while your brain rewires itself to a new standard, but the more you do it, the more you’re able to do it. Doing it consistently in practise means it becomes second nature when it counts.
Practise doesn’t make perfect, perfect practise makes perfect. Don’t know who coined that one, but they were right.
There are always things you can find to work on. If you find yourself with the luxury of time, or your domain knowledge outstrips the challenge at hand, look for ways to challenge yourself. What is it you are trying to achieve? What can you do to make that achievement something that helps you to grow also?
Not necessarily easy questions to answer. The answers you come up with may not be easy to implement either, but if you can identify something challenging in what would otherwise be routine, then surely it’s worth it.
Forgive me if I’m being overly abstract. I shall try for something more practical in my next entry.