It’s a shame that in today’s ever evolving and competitive world our modern media and marketing gurus have made us all believe that the solutions to our important goals are simple and that there’s a silver bullet out there, all bundled up and neatly packaged, that we can simply buy off the shelf. They even have celebrities or athletes endorse their products, as if to imply, “well if they can do it – you can do it”… by using this product. But of course we all know that life’s not that simple.
But because we’re all in such a hurry these days even the most important messages get ‘dumbed down’ for us, to a sound-bite or catch cry, just so that we pay attention or remember the message – and we fall for it! I can’t stand it, but unfortunately it’s become a truism of modern day life.
The truth is that the solutions to our most important quests aren’t quite so convenient or pre-packaged, as they’re as individual as we are. What works for one person is usually not the solution for someone else – and is riddled with our own complexities.
It’s important for us all to acknowledge that to achieve any significant goal in life you need to really embrace that complexity.
There is an element of simplicity about achieving goals also – and you need to be very clear about what that one simple thing is!
My belief is that if you can truly understand these two components of goal setting – the SIMPLE and the COMPLEX – you can achieve anything you want in this life.
Let me start with what I mean by simple, in a goal setting context. I’m referring to your one simple driving force!
You need to have absolute clarity around what success is and what it means to you. There needs to be simplicity in what the outcome looks like, and you have to be completely attached and committed to that outcome. Once you have distilled what it is you want and what it looks like, and accepted that you are absolutely hooked on the outcome, That’s it! That’s the simple part, that is your simple driving force, the motivator that will help you unravel the complex. And believe me, you will need that one simple driving force to get you through.
Now let me explain what I mean by embracing complexity. Things are usually way more complex than the armchair experts will have you believe. Let’s take the sport of kickboxing for example. To many people, the sport simply involves being tough, getting in the ring, and punching and kicking the crap out of someone. This couldn’t be further from the truth. When I was young I was drawn to the sport for many of the reasons young men are drawn to any sport – but what I fell in love with was the complexity of Kickboxing…. It truly is an art form. Let me try and explain what I mean.
To be good at kickboxing you first need to master a lot of different techniques. Mastering even the simplest of techniques – let’s say a simple right cross – means knowing to first open the ankle, bend the knee, twist the hip, rotate the shoulder, extend the elbow, and twist the wrist. Knowing how to move all of those joints chronologically with perfectly synchronised timing will leverage your muscles and give you three times your typical power. This is an example of the complexity within one technique and there are literally hundreds of techniques to master in the sport of kickboxing.
You also need to master timing. There’s no point in throwing a powerful punch if you can’t hit a moving target. Your opponent is not going to stand still.
Once you’ve mastered timing, you’ll need to master distancing – this is knowing exactly where to be and how to get there in order to hit without being hit. One of my favourite boxers is Kostya Tszyu and he was an absolute master at this. If you’ve ever watched any of his fights, you’ll see the obvious sting in his hands but watch his feet – his feet make his opponents miss by millimetres and help him counter attack in milliseconds.
I learned to love these nuances of the sport…. and there’s much much more. To master kickboxing you need to work on your speed, your strength, your agility, your flexibility, your endurance, your conditioning, and your courage. And on top of all that you need to draw on your one simple driving force to give you what’s known in the sport as heart – that dogged, never give up determination.
And success in the sport can’t be achieved with only part of the equation, to be the best you need it all. Anything less and you have weaknesses, and your opponents will definitely find them. Technique without conditioning won’t see you last two rounds. Strength without agility will make you a sitting target, and speed without endurance will have you simply run out of puff.
There’s one more thing required from a champion kickboxer… you need to get it right on the night. Sports history is littered with a long list of talented Chokers. The only way you can ‘bring the magic’ on the night is to have practiced all of these things so many times that when you find yourself in the heat of the moment, and an opportunity presents itself, you pull out combinations of moves without even thinking about them – moves you never knew you had.
This is why you need that one simple driving force. No-one can teach you this… except you. No one taught Muhammad Ali how to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. No-one taught Richard Branson how to be an Entrepreneur. Their one driving force, forced them to explore every inch of their chosen field and just find the answers – the answers that suited them – suited their body type, suited their personality, suited their strengths. It also helped them endure the disappointments, the losses, the broken promises, the failures, the criticism, and the self-doubt.
I was lucky enough or persistent enough to reach my goal of becoming World Kickboxing Champion at the age of 25, but there are millions of people who have dedicated their whole lives to a goal and not achieved it. Often it’s because they keep practicing what they’ve been taught or they’re simply bound by what already exists. I believe for a lot of people the missing link is in embracing the complexity –– exploring all there is to know about your sport, your industry, your art – pulling things apart and putting them back together, in a way that only you can understand.
So find your one simple driving force and learn to love the complexity… and go and live the life you imagine for yourself.
Best of luck… but I know you don’t need it!