by Heather Castellanos
It's been a while, but here is the third installment of my Miyagi Wisdom blogs. In light of the relatively recent release of Cobra Kai Season 2 on YouTube Red, I have been re-inspired to get this installment completed. By the way, to all you Karate Kid fans, if you haven't watched Cobra Kai the series yet, I recommend it. I was a little skeptical at first, but they definitely delivered. It's a lot of fun, and they do some great throwback references.
To catch you up, Mr. Miyagi from the Karate Kid movies is a super-wise sensei and teaches young Daniel San, and all of us, some really important lessons during his karate training. A man of few words, he knows just what to say in seemingly every situation.
So on to the next lesson...
During Daniel's tournament in Karate Kid Part III he incurred quite the beating as a result of the evil Cobra Kai senseis, John Kreese and Terry Silver. Part of the Cobra Kai mantra is "no mercy" and Daniel’s opponent, Barnes, was unabashedly merciless on him. These beatings pushed Daniel to the breaking point- he wanted to quit, he was too afraid of the pain if he continued. This is what happened...
"It's okay to lose to opponent, must not lose to fear!" Freaking brilliant. I love this line. It’s so applicable to everything, as most of Miyagi’s lessons are. I repeat them often to myself.
However, for this particular lesson, I would add a little asterisk....
"It's okay to lose to opponent*..."
*Assuming that you have given 110% in your training for the fight against said opponent.
That training could be for something physical, like training for a race or competition. Did you train as hard or as properly as you should have for that race? Did you rest and care for your body like you should have? Did you practice the course or events? Did you give your best during your training sessions?
That training could be for something career-related, like a job interview perhaps. Did you prepare for your interview? Did you research the company you are interviewing with? Did you practice some interview questions with a mentor? Did you make sure you look the part? Did you get enough sleep the night before? Did you give yourself enough time so you are not late to said interview?
Or maybe that training is something a little more abstract and internal like preparing for the ongoing battle between the less motivated, apathetic version of yourself and the more motivated, vivacious version you are trying to be. Did you plan your workouts for the week? Is your fridge stocked with healthy food? Did you prepare some meals ahead of time? Do you have strategies in place to battle excuses that may (will) arise? Are you getting enough sleep at night?
If you can confidently go into your “fight” where you might lose knowing you have done all you can do to win then, yes, it is okay to lose to opponent. There will be times when your opponent is better prepared than you, more talented than you, better qualified than you. Thus is life. No one wins 100% of the time. However, what is not okay is knowing you might lose and accepting defeat without your best fight for fear of (pain, rejection, humiliation, change, fill in the blank).
We cannot let fear win- not on the mat, not on the court, not in the classroom, not in the office, not in our relationships, not ANYWHERE.
One of the keys to this is to be able to identify when fear is stepping in and messing things up. Sometimes the fear comes right out from the get go- it holds you back from taking even a single step- you don't sign up for the race, or you don't even submit the resume. The fear stopped you before you even started. Sometimes you're courageous for a bit, you take a few steps and then fear rears its ugly head- you sign up for the race, but don't train for it. You get the interview, but don't prepare yourself. Our fears often materialize as self-sabotaging behaviors. Sometimes we have a hard time visualizing, and therefore accepting, how our lives might change if we actually succeed at something. If I get that job, so much will change? How do I know my life will be better? What if it's not? I'm SCARED! It’s a common and completely natural feeling. It takes strength and self-awareness to see and defeat it.
It's okay to lose to opponent, must not lose to fear. Never let fear win. Take the step. Speak up. Move the needle. Turn it up one degree. It can be scary to reach for the next level, and you may get kicked and beat down. You may get kicked and beat down over and over again, but, as Miyagi says, “you you must remain focused.” You will never know what levels you're capable of reaching, what championships you could win, if you let fear hold you back.