Tag Archives: motivational


that moment when your grandmaster stops class to help a black belt candidate learn how to do a brick break and then turns it into a life lesson 😅

I grabbed my phone to capture a video for when she breaks it, and I’m glad I got this motivating speech. The clip is just over a minute.

Caption: Grandmaster standing in front of a thick concrete block upon two others, with a student who is going to attempt breaking it, in front of a class: “think through, think through. This is, you know, guys, breaking is a metaphor for breaking through stuff. You know the challenges that you have – I’ve seen 240lb linebackers, football tough guys [tough guy noise] they can’t break one. It’s in here [points to head]. During testing, they got their black belts, they’ve been kicking everybody and they’re really strong, they’re like this, right? [poses like bodybuilder].

They come and they go ahhhhhh eeek [winds up to break but pauses short]. Stops. The reason is, the brain is really powerful and so what happens is, it tells you, ‘That’s a brick. That’s a brick. I cannot break that!’ And as soon as your brain says that, subconsciously when you say that, your hand just stops because your brain stops everything in motion. And so the biggest guys can’t break through this. Until they learn how to do that. And then after, after 2 years, 2 years, 240-50 pound guy, big guy [flexs again] he broke eleven after 2 years of training.

But he had to train himself to do that: ‘I can do it, I can do it.’ So, this is, you can do this. But you have to tell yourself you can do it. You know what I tell my little dragons (toddler class)? Yes I can? Or I say ‘can you do it?’ and they say ‘YES I CAN!’ It’s the same deal, you have to look at that and say ‘I can go right through that.’ And then you have to convince yourself, (student’s name), you have to believe it, and the belief has to become real, and then you make that happen.

And so, that happens with anything you can do. Any endeavor that you come across. Okay? Right? You wanna be the next Bill Gates? If you tell yourself, ‘Ah, man, that’s already been done’ then you’ve already lost. That’s exactly the same thing! You have to start thinking about that. That – [points at brick] – you have to break through that barrier.”

My reasons for posting this excellent motivational speech to this blog for you writers is two fold. The first is that it’s an important life lesson and reminder about mind over body. Overcoming your own inner negativity is difficult and something I still struggle with when approaching my daily life. Reminding myself that ‘Yes, I can’ and believing in myself are very difficult for me when dealing with depression. To fight through the feeling that I’m worthless and have nothing to contribute. I actually broke three bricks when I was eighteen after passing my third degree black belt test, the first two on the first impact using a palm strike and the third with my forearm/elbow. I had a bruise the size of my forearm for about a month and a tiny scar left over to this day. (That isn’t normally what happens.) However, it took me nearly ten years to accept the life lesson that the brick offered.

It was really scary because you have to look past the brick, aim beyond it, in order to break it. It also has absolutely nothing to do with physical strength, but in overcoming the barriers your mind creates for you. The truth is that we’re all a lot more powerful than we think we are. It’s not some mysterious gift that some people have over others, but rather a willingness to overcome the internal barriers we set for ourselves that say X is beyond us. As the Grandmaster states above, when you say ‘I could never’ then you’ve already lost.

The great misconception most people, not just writers, bring to martial arts or fighting in general is that’s about “the biggest and the best”. This pervades popular culture to the point that perfectly legitimate characters are seen as unrealistic due to the false reality created by the media. We get questions in our inbox all the time about “How can my physically weak character learn to fight?” or “How can my female character learn to fight?”

There is no special path to combat. There is only patience, dedication, and hard work. What is so beautiful about characters for authors who embrace this in their understanding is that they realize that there is nothing holding these characters back. They become action characters, driving their own narrative. Fighting is not some aspect separate from their personality, they are in control and that’s the moment when a character becomes empowered by their narrative.

They are an active force driving their story forward rather than a passive one. They control themselves, they control their own mind, and they are in control of their own destiny.

It’s not the act of violence which empowers a character or person in their life, it’s the realization of their freedom to make decisions for themselves and that those decisions push the narrative forward. They take power and the responsibility which comes with it. When someone is forced to do something, they are not empowered. When they choose to do something, even if they are afraid, even if it is terrible, even if it is a hard choice, a bad one, or a wrong one, then they are.

The ultimately best part about all of this realization is that it’s within your power to make the change. It will take time and hard work, it won’t happen all at once, but you can train yourself to overcome those things which make you afraid or fill you with the belief that what is before you isn’t meant for “someone like me”.

Even if you don’t believe in yourself now, you can train yourself to.

There is no right way, just a way and you’ll find the one which works best for you.


Pt2.I was wondering if you had any advice on how to get better? How to know what criticism to take in and what criticism not to take. How to improve my self esteem and get through these embarrassing last six weeks?

I feel like I’m missing a part one, or it was in a question that wasn’t marked. I suppose that’s trouble with Anon. We love you all, but you look alike.

There is no set way or path to getting better or improving, you just have to figure out which is best for you. There’s a real beautiful freedom in knowing that any direction you take will work because the journey is ultimately what will improve you rather than the end goal, but it’s terrifying too. How can you know what’s right if you don’t know what’s right?

Writing is really about introspection. Telling stories is about people and the more you know about people then the better at it you’re going to be. Spending a lot of time becoming acquainted with or studying various subjects will help you. Writers both good and bad are always surrounded by books, lots of books, often of varying genre. Even just sitting in my living room, I see Joseph Campbell next to Lovecraft, Moby Dick sitting beside a Star Wars novel about a Jedi P.I. during the Rebellion era on Coruscant, my countless books on writing are above my library of roleplaying guides, and Sharon Kay Penman’s novels are probably staring irritably at a few of Mercedes Lackey’s. I know I have at least three or four different thesauruses and a dictionary, a collection of books on King Arthur/Arthurian legend, various myths from around the world, plenty of books on Vietnam, and a lot in between with no real sense of catalogue. Books fill up every nook, cranny and corner of my house. Comic books, art books, books I read ten years ago, books I read ten days ago, books I never read, and the small library I’m building on my Kindle.

If you are not reading then you are not improving, the more you know then the better you’ll be.

1. Writing is Subjective

The problem with entertainment is that it’s a subjective experience. Not everyone is going to like it. Learning to be okay with that and developing a thicker skin to deal with it is part and parcel to the trade. There will be people who don’t like you, who your work doesn’t speak to, or who simply don’t care one way or another. It’s a fact of life and it can be difficult. It’s far easier to focus on the negatives than the positives, but your mistakes aren’t permanent. So, try not to let that bring you down. While we never truly escape it unless you’re going to hide everything you write in your closet, we do get to decide if it matters.

2. Be Patient with Yourself

Stop. Take a moment. Breathe.

It isn’t a race. What’s most important is being patient with yourself, forgiving yourself, so you can go back to doing what you love. The only way to improve is by doing.

3. Think about the criticism you’re receiving

Not all criticism is accurate. You can’t go through life accepting that everyone else knows better than you, but it’s important to figure out where this attitude is coming from. Thinking it through and figuring out what you can do in the future might help. We all make mistakes. When you make a mistake, you address what happened, figure out what it was, and how to move forward. However, if you’re in a state where you don’t know what went wrong then that criticism isn’t helpful. If the criticism you’re receiving is an attempt to shame you into better behavior then that also doesn’t help.

At the end of the day, it’s ultimately about what you decide to take from it. You don’t have to change if you don’t want to.

4. Remind yourself of what you do well

At the end of what you’ve written, pick something that you’re proud of. Something you felt that you did well. A part that you particularly like. There is no shame in being proud of your work, your accomplishments, and reminding yourself of it. You are first and foremost a fan of your work, it excites you, and you love it. Even if you’ve made tons of mistakes, there are going to be bright spots. Find those, remind yourself it’s okay to like them. Acknowledge your strengths as well as your weaknesses, acknowledge your weaknesses by focusing on them and allowing them to become your strengths.

It isn’t easy to travel blindly, but start by taking steps. Make goals. Hammer the nebulous down with the concrete. A tweet a day. A post a day or every three ,even just a sentence will be helpful in achieving your goals. Once you have a goal, you can develop a plan to help you reach that goal, then follow it. You will improve, sometimes quickly and other times slowly. Ascending up the mountain cautiously, a step at a time, is better than not climbing at all.

What’s helped me more as I’ve grown older is the first five in Ernie Reyes’ Ten Steps to Mastery, which seemed silly to me when I was younger but the young are often stupid and memorizing it felt dumb.  

The Ernie Reyes Steps to Mastery

1. Set a goal

2. Take action

3. Pay attention to detail

4. Change if it’s not working

5. Practice, Practice, Practice

There are supposed to be ten, but I only remember the first five and I can’t guarantee that they’re in the right order, but this helps me.

Sometimes, if your head feels too full of worries, it’s best to focus on the small instead of the large. If you’re too scared to look up at the horizon or if it’s too painful, then look down at your feet. Take comfort in those feet moving forward. Remind yourself that each step you take is one more. When you’re finally ready to look up and then back over your shoulder, you’ll find that the problem no longer seems to loom so large. That it’s small and distant instead.

You’ve left it behind.

It may not be better now, but it will be in time. Instead of sitting and waiting, you’re going to get up every day and work to make yourself better.

Pick up a book that’s topical to what you’re working on, write a sentence, write a paragraph, write a page, watch a documentary or a show, go out to a hub and people watch, look up programs in your area, join a book club. Set a goal. Recognize what you need. Orient on the details. Walk with purpose.

So long as you keep writing, keep reviewing your writing, acknowledge its strengths and flaws, then work to improve them then you will improve. Most of all be patient. The first steps are always the hardest. The middle ones can be too. You’ll suffer set backs, your plans will go awry, you may work on the wrong things, but every failure is an opportunity to learn. Keep working, you will be better.

It’s just going to take some time.


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