Humans need motivation to do everything from getting out of bed in the morning to climbing Mount Everest. One could argue that the greater the challenge the greater the need for motivation. In this example, it’s certainly true that you need more motivation to scale the tallest mountain in the world than you do roll out of bed in the morning. If motivation is the engine that fuels our dreams, then where does it come from and is there a science of gathering it?

Rather than motivation being the first step of every journey, the most successful people understand that motivation works like the “pitch back” equipment from our youth. It was essentially a net that bounce a baseball back to for a solo game of catch. The pitch-back was a tireless playmate, but it could never start the game of catch. The harder you threw the baseball the harder the ball game back at you, and one and on.

This is how motivation works and why martial arts is the ultimate performance enhancing system for every possible goal in life. Small actions and accomplishments create momentum and motivation that “pitch-back” the energy to you for the next step in your path. This concept of motivation is supported in psychological research and studies of success. Essentially there are no more powerful sources of motivation that success. As everyone says, “success breeds success”.

In a study of 500 individuals, results showed success and support from a community encouraged greater personal accomplishment compared to people lacking that same support. In fact, two individuals who were almost identical in ability were compared and the levels of their achievement were determined by community encouragement and early feelings of accomplishment on smaller goals.

The belt-driven martial arts path is tailor-made to push people along a set of small achievable goals to reach a larger seemingly impossible goal. Our Grandmaster tells us a story about how his teacher (Grandmaster Ie) taught him this lesson as a 6-year-old. To test his patience, he spilled a bowl of dried rice grains. His teacher told him that he was on a special diet and asked for the student’s help to pick up and count each grain, then blow off the dust and put it back in the bowl. He asked him to report exact number of rice grains at the end. Being only 6 years old Grandmaster Sin stated that he couldn’t count that high since he was only 6. His teacher, Grandmaster Ie asked if he could count to ten instead. Then he taught him to break a large impossible task up into achievable sections. He had him count to 10 over and over and keep track of the sets of ten. This lesson would stick with Grandmaster Sin his entire life and allow him train harder, persist longer and ultimately achieve what others believed couldn’t be done.

No matter how difficult a task seems to be, it can be conquered when you break it up into smaller achievable steps and stay focused only on those steps and not the bigger goal. This is the principle we follow in our Austin Tai Chi and Austin Kung Fu classes.