I’ve learned a lot of different things while training in the martial arts. Training in Aikido, in particular, was a practice in patience and persistence. Aikido is considered by some to be a “softer” martial art. (Don’t tell Steven Seagal, though.) It requires sensitivity to energies that surround us, intuition of a pending attack and knowing when to blend with the momentum instead of countering with a block or strike.
As a consequence, it can take longer to develop skills necessary to advance in rank. Many students drop out, not seeing results as quickly as their Karate counter-parts. As I trained, I began to appreciate the life-long approach to mastering the skills. I learned that being impatient wouldn’t speed up my progression. In fact, it sometimes slowed. I hit plateaus. Long plateaus where I felt there wasn’t any forward movement. The more I trained, the longer the plateaus became. But when I came off a plateau, that persistent training propelled me to the next rank—to a deeper understanding.
I’ve been learning the art of writing for over a decade. I’ve achieved a status of published author that feels much like when I tested for my first black belt. I can now be considered a serious student of the discipline.
Recently, I’ve noticed I’m on another plateau. My progress feels nonexistent. There’s my daily practice, my word count. I know I’m gaining ground, but it feels slow. I have tendency to look back on that moment of publication and wonder; will I be ready for the next test when it comes?
George Leonard, in his book, Mastery: The Keys To Success and Long-term Fulfillment, said it best.
“To love the plateau is to love the eternal now, to enjoy the inevitable spurts of progress and the fruits of accomplishment, then serenely to accept the new plateau that waits just beyond them. To love the plateau is to love the most essential and enduring in your life.”
Embracing the plateau isn’t something I do automatically. But my Aikido training has taught me to recognize when I’m on a plateau. When I sense a stall in my progress, I remind myself: “Here it is. Again. Keep working. Love the plateau.”
Thank you for letting me share my challenges with you. Please feel free to share your thoughts and the skills you’ve learned to push through your challenges.