Dare you listen to the whisper of your own quiet, inner voice?

Aikido practice

The taste of failure is rarely, if ever, pleasant in the moment or in the immediate period of reflection that follows.

Last Friday, I failed my 2nd Kyu Aikido grading test. Like all grading tests on the approach to the first black belt, it is a challenging test both physically and mentally.

The pressure to perform under test conditions, on that occasion, got the better of me.

I was gutted and, by Saturday morning, in a funk. Self compassion had left the building.

The act of failing wasn’t the issue as I have failed on many occasions at many things.

The inner discomfort arose from the reason for the failure. Once again, controlling emotions under performance conditions had tripped me up.

Reflections were clouded by thoughts of giving up and frustration at the thought of having to find new ways to upgrade my ability to self regulate and be fully present to an even higher standard of performance.

Back in the dojo, the opportunity to grade had been extended to a second week. There was much catching up to do now that hands on training had recently resumed in current circumstances.

My Chief Instructor asked if I was going to test and in an effort to avoid the taste of further failure, I declined.

I assumed I would fail as I hadn’t yet done the work to iron out the issues exposed in the first test.

During the class warmup I was distracted by a quiet, inner voice that was telling me to seize the opportunity to test again rather than wait another month.

What was the worst that could happen?

In that moment, I suddenly realised that the test itself wasn’t the actual test.

Getting back up from failure and continuing to move forward – even at the prospect of further failure – was.

As the famous motto states, ‘who dares wins.’

Happily, I graded successfully at the second time of asking (with extensive feedback on what to work on next and how to grow).

More importantly, I had a more valuable and visceral lesson that can’t be forgotten.

When the student is ready, the teacher (and lesson) appears.

With this in mind, what will you dare to do next week?

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