Day 10 of my Intentional Living Challenge is upon me. These first ten days have been a unique experience. I have been required to do things that made me, like most men, uncomfortable. The challenge has, to date, asked me to:
Assess myself for Intention vs. Action.
This was a tough exercise in being honest with myself. The “exclamation point” was put on the lesson as I stepped up and tested before a panel of twelve Master Instructors last Friday. I quickly realized, under their steady gaze, that I had not taken as much action as I should on all those good intentions of training and working out to prepare for the test. It left me wondering how many other places in my life were in the same condition…
Take time to interact with the World… slowly and intentionally.
In our “hurry up” world I often find myself not taking the time I should to simply stop and talk with people. Slow down and enjoy all that life has to offer instead of running from task to task trying to “wring out” every minute of productivity.
Develop Intentional Listening Skills.
This is a set of skills that would do fantastic things for our world. Not only will I be working on my Intentional Listening Skills, I will be teaching them to my students over the next few months. So much that is wrong in our society today comes directly from miscommunication and misunderstanding. The changes we could see if only everyone practiced the skills of intentional listening…
Find someone to encourage.
Encouraging other is not difficult for me personally. It is part of who I am, and a skill that I utilize continuously as a martial arts instructor and mentor. It is, like Intentional Listening, a skill that I believe this world needs more people to practice. Honestly, I see more negative interactions than I see positive interactions each day. Is this where our children are learning to bully? Observing the negative interactions of the adults around them?
Create a “Win” for someone.
Again, not a tough challenge for me. One of the most powerful tools I have as a martial arts instructor is the “Win”. When I can “catch” a student doing something well, showing great focus and effort, or simply giving it their “all”, recognizing that in a public manner creates more moments just like it. Not only does it boost the student receiving the praise, it lifts up those around that student. When we create “wins” for others we are “raising the water level” in the room and helping everyone’s “ship float just a bit higher”.
Look inside my own heart and head, writing down those things that “make me cry”, “make me sing” and that I dream about.
This was a tough series of challenges. As a matter of fact I have not yet completed them. Being that honest, even with myself, is not easy. What man is willing to admit he cries? Imagine taking that thought another step and challenging him to give serious, focused thought to what it is that makes him do what he is unwilling to admit to doing! That was tough. I am also not a “singer”, so finding things that make me “sing” is not easy. I had to rephrase that part, asking the question “What makes me really happy?” The question of dreams was also difficult to answer. It was not a question looking for the typical answers of wealth, objects or vacations. The challenge was to identify those changes in your life that you dream of making, finding those things that make you want to get out of bed in the morning and “make it happen”.
Re-evaluate my priorities, challenging me to take control of my calendar.
Take control of your calendar! Are you setting your schedule or are you letting everyone else set it for you? This is a “priorities challenge”. What are your personal priorities? Are you making sure your schedule reflects those priorities? If not, change that habit! Intentional Living must include intentional control of our daily schedules.
Help someone believe in him or herself.
Not a big challenge for me in terms of my school and my students… however, I realized that I may not be doing such a great job of this with my family. The most important people in my life, my family, and I may be letting them down by not encouraging a belief in their abilities.
At just one-third of the way through this challenge I have been pushed, prodded and outright convicted of being less than my very best. Intentional living isn’t going to be easy. I do however believe that it will be worth it. This is the same evolution of thinking and behaving the modern martial artist needs to go through on their way to Black Belt. Becoming a Black Belt is relatively easy. Being a Black Belt is hard. Living an intentional life, living a disciplined life as a Black Belt, takes effort. For all my fellow martial artists out there, make intentional living a part of your “Black Belt Way of Life” and see if it doesn’t make the entire experience more rewarding!