Eat Bitter

You read that right, I said eat bitter. I did not mean eat better.

I cut my teeth in the traditional Chinese martial arts, and there is a common saying that translates into English as eat bitter.

This is essentially a common sense idea that you have to put in the work in order to enjoy the rewards. The idea is not uncommon outside of China. In many countries, the idea that hard work will eventually lead to success is a common theme.

When people see the amazing skills of a Bruce Lee or a Jackie Chan, they never stop to think about the tremendous amount of time and sweat that brought them to such a high level of performance. Muhammad Ali, probably the greatest boxer who will ever live, was inhuman in his training.

In our time, seemingly more than ever before, we have people who do not understand the concept of sacrifice before reward. They don’t want to pay their dues. And it is really sad.

From my perspective, I see this lesson best seen in the lives of the dedicated martial artists. Those who work as hard as it takes to make it learn that the effort spent is worth it in the end. Every long-term martial artist that I have ever known was a person who was willing to do whatever it takes to be successful at whatever task was in front of them.

Challenges can be overcome.

In the end, the work and the training, the time away from friends, the missed parties, the delayed social life, the bumps and bruises, the early mornings where you felt you never fell asleep, the tendons and ligaments that will never be quite right again, the aches and pains that never seem to go away, all of the things that would stop someone who was looking for a reason to stop – lead to a realization. They lead to a transcendental perspective. I can tell you about it, but you won’t know it like I know it, and others like me know it. To truly get it, you’ll have to live it.

There is an experience in this that lets you see that your limits as set by you, and if you choose to ignore them, they cease being limits. No one will ever be able to get to you by telling you that you don’t have what it takes because you know that you can do whatever it takes.

So when the training is not going well and the skills are slow in developing – smile! And eat bitter.

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