Thursday, 20 August 2009


This week and last I have been experiencing change.

No, I’ve not been having hot flushes or moments of dizziness. Well, maybe one or two.

I have in fact taken notice of how many things have changed throughout the past couple of weeks. Some of these are changes imposed upon me, seemingly out of my control, and some are changes I have actively sought.
What has been most interesting is that, only once I had let go of what I currently knew to be right, and what felt comfortable and safe, did I really start to experience the benefits of the change.
I’ll start with a Martial Arts example.

If you were to ask me what I am as a Martial Artist, I would most likely answer, “A Karateka”.Whilst I’ve not donned my Karate Gi for many years, I still consider myself a student of the art of Shotokan Karate and if you were to take a look at my fighting style, I’m sure that would still be evident.The long deep stances may have shortened a little, and the traditional low guard ready for long reaching reverse straight punches may have morphed slightly to more of a pugilist form, but the signs will still be there.

No more so than in my Roundhouse, (Mawashi Geri), kicks.
Having spent 20 plus years developing and evolving the intricate body mechanics of this particular kick and countless thousands of repetitions on the heavy bag and with sparring partners, I’ve been quite content and comfortable with my kicking ability.

However, it is this comfort that I have used as my indicator that this is a time for change.

So, the past few weeks has seen me focusing with more intent on changing my body mechanics and trying to modify, not undo, all those years of muscle memory, in order to take on the Muay Thai shape.A big thank you, at this point, goes out to those who have spent a lot of time with me recently, sharing bruised legs along the way, to patiently help guide me on this journey of change.

Now I could take this article down the path of the benefits and the lessons I’ve learned about this particular new technique and the philosophies behind it; such as, throwing the kick with almost a carefree attitude; being nonchalant in the delivery to a point of almost casual relaxedness; trying less in order to achieve more. The lessons were plenty.

But I’m focusing on the act of Change this week and so I will continue with this theme.What I noticed was that I only started to see improvements in this new technique when I let go of the old, familiar, comfortable, muscle memory that I had become so fond of.
This ability to let go of the past in order to take the most from the present is vital if we are to be able to manage and enjoy the act of Change.
In my other life, I have also had a very busy week of change, but this time, it’s a change that those around me have had to endure or enjoy, depending on whom you speak to.I have been tasked with supporting a large group of individuals as they return to work from a short break to be presented with a whole host of new computer software and applications to cope with.
This has been a fascinating demonstration of the power of change, and how its strength can either help or hinder depending on your own attitude towards it.
Those who welcomed the new software, who accepted it had changed, quickly set about learning it with a patience and tolerance that allowed them to grow. It’s not been easy for them, but it’s a fact that often things have to get worse before they can get better.
For example, try fitting a new kitchen without first ripping out the old one and turning your adequately functioning kitchen into an empty, dusty room. You get my point.Those, on the other hand, who refused to accept the new software, spent most of their time procrastinating at how poor it was and how they wanted the old software back. For a time they were effectively living in the past, reminiscing on how good the old times were which served no purpose other than to delay their progress with the now!

These past couple of weeks have reminded me of a great book I read many years ago, and one which I highly recommend you seek out.

Who Moved My Cheese?

This is a story of 4 mice that find cheese, and day after day take the same route from their home to this vast store of nourishment; until one day when the cheese runs out. Now, without their comfortable, familiar and reliable store of food, two of the mice immediately set out in search for more. Not knowing if they will find any but certainly not waiting around to ponder on where their first supply had gone.A brave and courageous decision, but their ready acceptance to this change in circumstance meant they were able to start their search still fit and energised from their last full cheese meal.
The other mice continued to take the same journey each day, in the vane hope that one day their cheese may return.Obviously, the cheese doesn’t return, and all they had done was delay their chances of finding new food, leaving them hungry and weak in the process.

I won’t spoil the rest of the read for you but suffice to say..

We all like comfort, reliability, and consistency. These things are great as they help us to plan and become efficient at what we do. For example, how many of us take the same route to work every day, even when it becomes tedious and boring. We continue on because we become familiar with the average time it will take, and can plan our day around it more efficiently.Repetition is also the key to success, so there is a lot to be said for having constants in your life and continuing to work and develop on the same thing.

However, we also need to have one foot on the starting block of change. Always being ready to adapt and move on to new things, new ideas, new software and new kicking techniques.
It’s said, you cannot steal second base without letting go of first and this is no more evident than when experiencing change.Only when we let go of what feels comfortable can we start to experience the benefits of the new. Yes this takes courage, but no one said it is easy.

And as Dr Spencer Johnson says in his book,

“The Quicker You Let Go Of Old Cheese, The Sooner You Can Enjoy New Cheese”

Author Philip Crosby said

"If anything is certain, it is that change is certain. The world we are planning for today will not exist in this form tomorrow."

“Change should be a friend. It should happen by plan, not by accident.”

So be prepared to change, whether it is imposed upon you or better still, act first and make the change.

Until next time

Stay Safe and Have Fun

Al x

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