Life is Full of Competition


There are a number of articles debating that life is a competition or it is not. Maybe that is too harsh a line to draw – it is a competition or it is not? A more accurate statement might be that life is full of competition. If there is ever anything significant that you want, be prepared to compete for it. “Significant” is an important detail. While learning to compete, it is important that you do not make every single thing a competition. Let the unimportant things go – you do not actually need to be first in line at every store you go to, you don’t need to race the car next to you up to that red light, and you don’t have to beat your friends at every video game match you play. While learning to compete, you need to learn what to compete for and what to let go.

Competition in Life

What do you compete for? What is important to you? Are you the first one on the lunch line so you can get the table you want in the cafeteria? Or are you more focused on bigger things? Things like getting the part in the school play, earning first chair in the orchestra, or getting a spot on the team. What we compete for grows with us as we age. Have you ever watched toddlers play together? At some point they will want the same toy – competition on. When we go to school opportunities for competition flourish. Setting aside being first in line or being the teacher’s favorite there is still getting the best grades, your place in social hierarchy, plays, bands, sports, and social clubs. You can finish school but you will not be finished competing. There is still a social hierarchy wherever you go and somewhere in the course of all this competing we add dating. You have other things life altering things to obtain as well. Things like a good job, financial security, and a place to live.

How do you prepare?

First, choose your battles. You can accomplish many many things but probably not everything and certainly not everything all once. Unlike what some of us dream of being as child, the percentage of Astronaut-Doctor-Firefighter-Cowboys out there in the job market is pretty low. So choose. You do not have to choose just one thing, but you will be more successful if you do not choose everything all at once. For example, financial security may be easier to obtain if you focus on getting a good job first.

Pouty Child
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Second, learn how to lose. That sounds counter to what we usually hear. We are frequently taught that competition is all about winning. However understanding how tolose without allowing losing to erode your self esteem or break your healthy attitude can set the groundwork for lifelong success. Whenever there is competition there is a winner. Most of the time there is also a loser. Just because you want something and try for it does not mean you will get it. What do you do when you don’t get it. Do you accuse your competitor of cheating and malign them on Facebook before you go to your room and pout? Or do you try again?

Of course there is also actual learning and refining skills for what you plan to compete in. If you want to win getting a job, make sure you are qualified for it and practice interviewing. If you want a place on the team, practice your sport so you are good at it. There are many details you can get into once you decide what you want to compete for.

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Other than specific detailed preparation for what you choose to do, the other thing to learn is how to win. At first glance that may sound ridiculous. Doesn’t everyone already know that. It is what you are trying to do and it feels good. Who doesn’t know how to win? Some people get caught in a cycle of fearing failure that they sabotage their efforts to win. They worry so much that they will not succeed that the worry takes over and the failure becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. Some people need to learn to be okay with being happy and successful.

There is another side to learning to win. Learn to be gracious. Watch very young children sometime. The toddlers competing for that toy for example. Have you noticed what happens when one of them gets it? The victorious child smiles and is very happy. Frequently the other child bursts into tears. Sometimes the child who won, will taunt the child who lost. This is where learning to win comes in. Taunting the losing side is not necessary. That can be you next time. Winning is great, but because you win once it does not guarantee that you will win all the time, or even next time.


One of the best ways to prepare to compete in life is by participating in sports.

Most of the skills you need to navigate life’s competitions are found in sports. Sports have matches, meets, bouts, or games all the time. You have a chance to practice preparing, winning, losing, and just participating in something. You have a chance to earn your place on the team. If you do not get the one you want, you have a chance to figure out what to improve in your play so you have a better chance to get that place next time or even later in the season. Sports, when done well, will help you learn how to try, how to work through the moments when you want to quit, how to start over and try again when things do not go your way.

Trying and working through challenges helps prepare you mentally. Because of their nature, sports will help prepare you physically. To excel in sports, you have to put some effort into your physical condition. Keeping your body in good condition helps you in everything you do.


AchieveNot every sport is for every person. Part of the reason we have so many sports is so everyone can find ones that they enjoy. If you do not like the idea of touching another person, wrestling probably is not for you – but maybe tennis is. If you don’t like playing outside you might like basketball or swimming instead of baseball.

We like a lot of different sports but we are a little bias toward martial arts. We see in it the best parts of all the other sports plus many other benefits. If you are looking for your sport or trying to find something for your child come in and check things out.

Tale Care and Be Safe

Stay with your routine

Staying active in your summer break may be the best thing you can do for yourself. It might be the best thing for your kids too. Continuing to be part of your normal community through summer may allow you to make the progress you want. Stay with your routine.

Summer Vacation Misconceptions

For a long time people believed and propagated the myth that our schools have summer break because we have, or had, a farm based economy. If children were needed on the farm, it would be for spring planting and fall harvest wouldn’t it? Actually there used to be a break for just those reasons and not the extended summer one we have today.  The school year in some cities were as many as 260 days.

More accurate reasons the current summer break schedule is the way it is have more to do with summer heat. In cities, buildings coming together create an oven and amplify the existing heat. When you are in a brick building all day with no air conditioning the heat is too much. Another reason is that more affluent people started taking trips or moving away from the city in the summer months. The middle class followed their lead. Dismissing school for the summer made it more convenient.

The importance of a break

Beach with Birds
image by Phil_Bird courtesy of

It is important to have a break. How much break is too much? Three days may not be enough time to get some rest and refresh your routine. Almost three months seems like it is too long. At that point it takes another month or more to get back into what you were doing before your break.

How long do you need? Like everything, the answer to that depends a lot on you. There are experts doing studies and working on a number, but really, how you need to recharge will depend on you. Who you are, how you are wired, what you like, what your family situation is, and how creative you are.

Some generalizations can be made. When a student leaves school at the end May they are at a certain proficiency level. Most of them will have back slid, or be at a lower level when they return to school at the end of August. They will spend at least part of September catching back up to the level they were in May.

The importance of a staying at it

School systems have been debating changing the school calendar year for quite a while. While they continue to do that, you can choose to do things that make your break give you what you need. Avoid that back slide whether you are k-12, in college, or at a job.

The NY Times has a good post on why not to take a break between college and that first job. The final point of the article is about getting experience. They suggest if you do not find a job, make one up. Basically they say to do something instead of nothing.

Success Steps
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Nothing comes from nothing has been said for a long time and it is still right. We all benefit from some structure. How much depends on you. Stay with your routine. Or at least most part of it. Staying with part of your normal routine over the summer will give you more benefits in the long term than doing relatively nothing for a few months.

Summer is a chance to get ahead. Instead of that back slide, stay with what you are doing. Continue to learn more about what you have been doing or start learning about something new. You have a routine for a reason, it should help you. Stick with it. If you need to mix it up, then do that. Play some games, try out new things, visit new places, but keep doing.

Stay with your routine

For some people, summer break becomes a time when they wholly retreat from normal life, stop seeing their “daily” friends, and disappear from their communities. That seems excessive. Stay with your routine, but take the time to make some adjustments and make it better.

Take Care and Be Safe

Self Control, Choose Your Reaction

Choice with Magnifying Glass

Gandhi said our greatness lies in being able to change ourselves, not the world. We are paraphrasing, but you see where that is going. Self Control. You control what you do and what you say. You may not be able to change or control the whole world, maybe you can only change and control yourself. Excellent advice from a guy who did change the world. You control what you choose to do.


We all have some reactions we can not control. If you drop a hammer on your bare foot chances are high that you will recoil from you stood and make some strong verbal exclamations. The same is probably true if you slam your finger in the car door or touch a hot stove. Controlling your reaction to those instances is really not what we are talking about – though some people can do it. We are talking about more everyday common occurrences.

Same and Change Street Sign
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When your coach ask you to run one more lap, what do you do? Sure, you run, but what is your reaction to being asked for more? Do you and smile and pick up your pace a little or do you sulk and roll your eyes? What do you do when your boss asks you to revise that report, for the third time? You say okay and then go complain to your coworkers or do you say okay and ask some questions to help make the report better, and then go do it? When it’s time to go outside for recess or the game or whatever you wanted to do, and it suddenly starts to rain – what do you do? Does the gloom invade your day or do you choose to find something to do indoors?

How fast can you change your disappointment with the weather? Can you stop yourself from being disappointed with it at all? When you have to duplicate your work do you focus on the fact that you have to do it again, or on the fact that you have an opportunity to make it better? When you are tired and someone asks you for one more thing do you grouse about it, do you suck it up and do it, or do have the ability to accept it as something that is not negative at all? Can you develop that ability?

There will always be impulses and reactions that you default to naturally. Things that “just come out”. But you have choices. There a moment before that reaction comes out, can you use to change it to change your reaction? Can you practice having a different reaction?

Self Control

The self control that seems to be most commonly discussed is about children and teenagers. Are they being disruptive or are they behaving themselves? Can they wait in line without causing a commotion? Can they stay in their desk during their school lesson? All of these are examples of self control, but many of them are learned skills.

After school or post-high school training is over and you are “Out in the real world” what is self control then? Do you continue to learn self control skills? Some people stop thinking about their own behavior as they become adults. Not everyone, but enough people do this that it is noticeable.

Is there someone at work who insists on interjecting themself in your conversation with another coworker? That would be okay if they have something useful to say. But instead everything they say is aimed at making themselves the center of attention. Whether it is adding in barely related facts to make himself look smart or jokes to make himself seem funny, he is putting his need for attention ahead of everything else that is occurring at that moment. He is showing a lack a self control.

Man with Angel and Devil on Shoulder
image by aechan courtesy of

What do you do when you are in a conversation and those around you are telling you things you do not want to hear? Is your immediate reaction, inside your head, to get defensive and argue with them. Do you do follow that or do you choose to react with something potentially better for everyone?

Self Awareness

Before you can make a distinction on how to choose your reaction, you have to have some self awareness. You may laugh, but not everyone has it. Not everyone can look in the mirror and come close to seeing themselves as they are – a flawed human being. We all are. Sometimes, for some people, ego blocks the view.

This is probably particularly difficult for some parents. You want to be a good example for your child, and you want to protect them. Those are good things, but sometimes they evolve into bad habits. Some parents start to believe they have to be right all the time to be that good example. This leads to that ego problem. The need to be right over shadows facts. Eventually they lose sight of being a good example, and just know that no matter what they are right and everyone else, including the child, is wrong.

Some people just need to be right all the time because it is the only way they can validate their self worth. Instead of focusing on the good things they can do or the positive ways they can contribute to a group, they put up a facade as the person who knows it all and is never wrong.

To have the self control to choose your reaction, you must understand where you might be part of the problem within a conflict. You must understand that there are issues choices beyond the first thing that comes into your mind. There are other points of view that are valid and worth consideration.

Choose Your Reaction

The conversation example, where people tell you things you do not want to hear,  is a good example because there can be some distinctly different outcomes. If your coworkers are telling you things you do not want to hear they must think the topic is important enough to possibly introduce some conflict. What do you do? Do you get defensive or do you listen to what they have to say?

Do you make your side of the conversation about you being right or do you put thath reaction on hold, and patiently let the others speak. Are you respectful and listen to what the others have to say? Is your mind open to the possibility that what they are saying are genuine concerns that can be addressed and resolved as a group, or do you make it all about your ego?

There can be hundreds of examples. Your teenager failed math, do you yell at him and ground him or do you talk to him about it. Not just the fact that he failed math, but why? Do you get frustrated when he says “I don’t know” or do you stay with it and help him figure out what the real problem is?

You have a new boyfriend and you are happy with him. You get a little nervous when he asks you to stop spending so much time with your friends that do not like him. What do you do? Do you give in to the nervousness and do what he wants because you are afraid he will break up with you or do you choose a healthier reaction? What does he really need? Does he need to control who your friends are (if that’s the case you are probably better off without him) or does he need to feel a little more secure in your relationship?

There are choices everywhere

Making choices is part of growing and maturing. Choosing your reaction to things happening around you is the next level of self control. It is part of what makes you an adult, rather than just someone who is getting older. The next time you are about to get upset at something someone said or before you jump into someone else’s conversation, pause for a moment. Consider what you are choosing to say and do. Consider whether or not what you are about to do is the best thing for you and the people around you. Is there a better choice? You may find that you have more options that you initially realized.

Take Care and Be Safe

Get Busy, Get Moving

Get Moving Practice Escapes

April is here, so even in Ohio we are bound to see some nice weather. It is time to get moving. Sometimes we as twenty-first century humans get caught up in our to do lists with work and kids and running from place to place and we forget to take care of ourselves. Have you ever taken a walk through your neighborhood and just felt better after you got home? Some days a walk is all you need to reset and feel a little better. Some days you need more.

How will you get moving?

Walking is a great place to start to get moving. If you want to feel even better, move more. Summer league team sports are good for some people. Others prefer more individual activity. Some people like to run. It helps them clear their minds. Others enjoy biking and the distances that can it take them.

Kids Need to Get Moving Too

This may sound a little bias coming from us, and it probably is, but Martial Arts is a great activity for people who want some of the team feeling and some of the individual focus.

You will get moving in a Martial Arts class. You can not help it. When an instructor is leading an activity you do it. That is why you are there. It is harder to stop and slack off when you have someone giving you direction. When you work with a partner, you have to get moving and keep moving. It is not only your time that you are using, it is also theirs. When you practice with a partner, you help each other grow and develop. That part feels more like a team activity.

Get some help to get moving

If you think you need a little help to get moving, get some. In a martial arts class you have an instructor to help you know what to do and how far to push yourself. You have your partner that you work with for that class to help you. You also have the other students in the class. Even though they may not be your partner that day, other students are typically very helpful when you have a question or need help with something.

Get Moving Practice Kicking Over Belts
Time To Get Moving

Some people need help to stay active. They are okay to start but eventually get they distracted, or think they can not go any further, or become unsure what to do next. Martial Arts can help eliminate some of those challenges. Instructors and other students in class create a supportive environment that helps everyone in the class grow and develop.

We are speaking from our experiences here at our dojo. Not every martial arts school is the same. If you need an activity to help you get moving martial arts is a great choice. Make sure you find a school where you are comfortable. You are welcome to check out a class. We offer a free introductory classes, all you need to do is register. If you have any questions please contact us.

As always, Take Care and  Be Safe.




Instead of Dwelling on a Mistake Stop, and Start Over

Buttons - Stop Start Over

Sometimes when you make a mistake or lose at something, you dwell on it. Certainly it is good to learn from mistakes, but dwelling on them is a waste of time. Forget it. Start Over.

Athletes Start Over

Empty Basketball Hoop
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When a player misses a shot in basketball, they can not stop and sulk about it. They have to forget it and start over. They have to make a new opportunity and take a new shot or they will not have a chance to win the game. The same is true for the baseball player who struck out last at bat, the golfer who missed par, or the martial arts competitor that lost their match.

When you are playing a game you do not have time to feel sorry for yourself for a miss or a mistake. If you think about that you will lose focus and probably lose the game. Besides, focusing on what you might have done wrong does not do anything to move you forward. There is no need to spend too much time on the negative thoughts.

Sometimes when you play a game, you lose. What matters more than losing, is your response. Do you pick yourself up and try again, or do you give in to feeling sorry for yourself?

Athletes are not the only ones who Start Over

Trying again after a loss does not just apply to athletes in a game. The same feeling of losing something can apply to things that happen at work or school. That is not a game. But you can still have control over how you react and what you can do. You can dwell on it, or you can start over.

Stressed Out Student
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If you did not pass a test for a class or certification, there is no sense in thinking about how much better things would be if you had. You have to briefly look at where the mistakes were then move forward by correcting them. Studying more about that area so you can test again and this time pass it.

When you are having a rough time with something, take a few minutes, get cleaned up or clear your mind and start over. If you get overwhelmed by your to do list, stop and start over. Take the time to re-prioritize that list and choose just a couple things you can get done and do them. One or two small successes will put you back on track.

If you have trouble learning something, start over. Go back to the beginning. You might hear the phrase Back to Basics. The idea is the same. When you start over, you give yourself a fresh start to be successful.

It does not have to be something as big as a new job, new school, or new house – but it can be. It can also be as simple as going back to a simpler way of doing something, taking a different route to work, cleaning out your closet/garage/basement, or starting over on an exercise plan. Starting Over is a good strategy to help yourself be successful. Patience with yourself usually helps too.

Take Care and Be Safe