“The expectations of life depend on diligence.
The mechanic that would perfect his work
must first sharpen his tools.”
While Confucius himself was not a martial artist, this thought goes right to the heart of what it is that we do. The “work” that we strive so hard to perfect – ourselves and who we are as human beings – is dependent totally on the tools that we bring to bear: our bodies and minds, spirit and attitude.
When we embark on this work, it’s with high expectations—and expectations often bring with them frustration. We notice that the first big motivational hurdle our students confront comes shortly after the newness of this endeavor wears off – the “infatuation” stage in a relationship – and the student realizes that there’s a lot of sleeves-rolled-up, nose-to-the-grindstone work to be done before they are going to be able to perform at the level they want to. Think of the scene where a frustrated Ralph Machio gets fed up with his training, before Mr. Miyagi, in a flurry of punches and kicks, shows young Ralph that all his hard work has amounted to more than just a smooth deck, a freshly-painted fence and a bunch of shiny cars.
For me, the secret to diligence—persevering through all the tool-sharpening necessary to achieving what we want—lies in the appreciation of developing all the little skills and qualities that will help us grasp them. We should never take our eyes off the work itself, the person we want to be and the big things we want to accomplish, but big expectations should never dull our appreciation of a workshop full of awesome tools.