There is a lot of dross on Facebook, too many pictures of cats for a start, and so many motivational statements that I have them coming out of my ears, some are vaguely interesting, some quite interesting and others leap of the screen and grab you by the throat. Two such quotes inform todays blog, one I saw last night and failed to note who posted it and the second courtesy of Billy Brown, President and Chief instructor of Defend USA in Tennessee, thanks for the following Billy;

“There is one quality which one must possess to win, and that is definiteness of purpose, the knowledge of what one wants, and a burning desire to possess it.” – Napoleon Hill;

Strangely I ordered the book this is from‘Think and Grow Rich’ ,  yesterday after Rory Miller recommended it to me, together with ‘How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life’ by Alan Lakein and ‘The Richest Man in Babylon’ by George S Clason (spooky or what). The quote Billy used kind of relates to my thoughts when writing my Battle Plan as described in my previous blog. It certainly chimes with where I am right now, I will use that nauseating phrase for the first and last time, I am in a good place. Times are tough for me like most other people but my head is right, I can see blue sky and sunshine ahead even as we are battered by strong winds and rain. In a short while I am off to the park with another Billy, my beautiful grandson, he is so full of life and energy that he energizes me. Some people are like that, just being in their company makes life worthwhile. I think it is the same with quotes, some people just seem to capture in a few short words the very essence of how we think and feel. Napolean, that is some name too, Hill certainly put succinctly the way I am thinking and feeling right now.

My parents did a great job. they taught us the value of hard work and commitment and that rewards come to those who work hardest for them, that and the lucky UK Euro Lottery winner from last night. They also equipped their children with massive amounts of self-confidence. Hard work, sweat and toil is the unhappy lot of many and the happy, joyous lot of a few. Like two sides of the same coin these contradictory twins exist and dominate our lives. A few years ago I was finding my daily struggle with bureaucracy a pain in the arse, I was creating opportunity and wealth for other people, I ran a small charity and had set up a couple of social enterprises that produced much-needed income for the charity, so not such a bad thing.  Tiring of endless meetings and pussyfooting around unproductive, uninteresting drones with their endless list of futile bureaucratic needs and whims I decided to get out and work for myself. Three years on I am still in the game and continually developing the Academy of Self Defence. It has been a very interesting experience so far, a cool journey and I am continually learning new things. I am, after three years almost at the starting point.

You may think it strange that after three years of trading I now think I am at the start. Well I do not and it is not false modesty. Starting out on my own was tough but the right thing to do, it was time to become selfish. Not that mean I want it all for me you can have nothing type of selfish but what Charles Handy describes as ‘proper selfishness’ in his excellent book ‘The Hungry Spirit’. This is when the time is correct to invest time and resources into doing something for yourself, it could be anything from swimming lessons to learning a language to setting up and running your own business. Earlier I dug out the copy of The Hungry Spirit that I bought hot off the press in 1997 when I was still teaching at the Northern College for Adult Education, the post it notes for different headings are still there.  Handy describes how we find ourselves through what we do, and whilst we are inextricably linked to others as social animals it is often the case that we are forced to be selfish in our pursuit of something beyond ourselves, a vocation, a commitment to a group or cause or indeed our martial art. We need to be selfish occasionally as we search for who we are , who we really are as we evolve throughout life.

So proper selfishness is investing time and resources into oneself in the search for the best possible self we can be to then contribute to the greater good more effectively. That is why I have now come to the stage in my life where I need to seriously address my future. I often describe being me as being a bit like Dr Who, not that I am a Time Lord but that I keep changing. Every so many years I seem to change direction completely, to regenerate myself, to take on a new persona and add it to what is already there to create a new me. Each episode is preceded by a period of proper selfishness and then a short period of stasis, an almost pupae stage when I digest new influences and knowledge ready to re-emerge renewed and re-invigorated.

When I began Ju Jitsu training I had no idea the impact it would have on my life, it was profoundly life changing. When I started I only went because my friend John had just started, I had been sceptical about martial arts my whole life, I still am to some extent, I went for a laugh. I pictured martial artists a bit like Adam Adamant in this clip:

The lower belt stuff was a bit of a chore but I soon began to see the potential and admired the skills of my classmates and instructors, now many years on it is difficult to imagine my life without my training. That this should develop into a business, that this would open up whole new communities of virtual and actual friends was completely unseeable, that I would train with incredible people from many different backgrounds and even set up my business was completely unknowable back then. To even think of starting and writing this blog was unthought of as recently as this April and now I have submitted my first magazine article and am about to start writing my first book.

Notice I said first book and not just book. This is because of millions of experiences I have had in my life, mostly positive but with my own share of negative too, we learn from both equally when we can. Psychologists at the Victoria University in New Zealand have reported that optimists usually win, to quote the aptly named, I kid you not, Dr Garry “Once we anticipate a specific outcome will occur, our subsequent thoughts and behaviours will actually help to bring that outcome to fruition”, (Read More, but later please). This is not rocket science and gels with lots of other evidence to show the same thing from a variety of sources. It is the power of positive thinking, to identify our goal or goals, and the application of ones whole self towards achieving it, unswervingly, with dedication and commitment all the way. That is what drives us forward. If I reflect on the sheer willpower needed to survive and pass my blackbelt the will to win drove me through the agony barrier times many, the word pain is not sufficient in the context of an Abbeydale Ju Jitsu Club blackbelt grading.

I relish a challenge, it is in my nature. I am an optimist, that is in my nature too. When I fight I fight to win, often in real mean fights in the past I went beyond that as I fought to destroy. The will to win is deeply ingrained in my psyche, it is unevenly distributed in society and so many people are prepared to accept second place or worse. Sometimes it is time to put oneself first and enjoy being properly selfish, to invest heavily in oneself in order to return more back to others in the future because you will become better able to as a result. I was listening to the ‘War of the Worlds cd this morning, the Justin Hayward epic and the song the Spirit of Man comes to mind, sometimes we need to think wild thoughts, have crazy ideas and the act to bring them about. Not all are cut out to be the herd, some need to step forward and take up the challenge whatever this is. What is your personal challenge? Do you possess the will to win and can you think of an impossible future that you should, can, will make happen?  I hope you can.

Me, I am off to continue investing in myself, I write this blog sat outside my grandson Billy’s bedroom at our house, his Thomas the Tank Engine room, whilst he sleeps the sleep of the innocent, the gate thing does not fit properly so grandad is on a kind of safety watch. Billy is a treasure, a beautiful bonus that brightens our lives, he inspires me as his learning is so rapid, I need to set him the finest example possible so he learns to dream to be whoever and whatever he can be, we owe it to our children and grandchildren to be properly selfish, we hold the world in trust for them and those who possess the will to win will carry the day in life’s many minor battles.  As Heraclitus, (535 to 475 BC) said;

“Of every 100 men you send to fight, 10 should not even be there. Eighty are nothing but targets. Nine are real fighters, we are lucky to have them, they the battle make. Ah but the one, one is a true warrior and he will bring the others back.”

Set yourself a challenge, rise to it, imbibe the will to win and let it drive you forward, be the one.