Perseverance: Getting through the tough stuff

By Mathiam Mbow, owner / instructor at Silver Lining Taekwon-Do

Perhaps General Choi was right when he said: “Pain is the greatest teacher, but no one wants to go to its class.”

If you’ve been following this series on the Five Tenets of Taekwon-Do, you may recall the name. General Choi Hong Hi is considered the father of this Korean martial arts discipline, which is, at its essence, an approach to living life well.

The Five Tenets of Taekwon-Do are Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self-Control and Indomitable Spirit. In my previous articles, I wrote about the first and fifth tenets: Courtesy and Indomitable Spirit. This time, I’d like to talk about the third tenet, which many people find most difficult to maintain. In fact, it’s the very meaning of the term. Perseverance, after all, is defined as persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.

In explaining this tenet, General Choi wrote that “One of the most important secrets in becoming a leader of Taekwon-Do is to overcome every difficulty by perseverance.” Training in Taekwon-Do can be seen as a metaphor for life because all the challenges, growth, opportunities, setbacks, aches and pain one faces through their journey to black belt is the same path one follows in life. We live, we learn, we grow and along the way we face challenges, opportunities, successes and failures but that is all part of the learning. Understanding the basic principle that in order to be successful at something, it requires hard work, dedication and perseverance will help students see the bigger picture of what their training is about.

For example, achieving a black belt isn’t the end of your martial arts training, but rather a huge milestone that serves as a catalyst to something greater. To be successful, one must have a clear goal in mind and know what achieving that goal means to them.

The road to success is not easy, but nothing worth achieving ever is.  You may not succeed at first, but failure is an experience worth experiencing.  Failure will strengthen you and make your success that much more meaningful.  Failure is our greatest teacher!  So, don’t quit when things get hard or you fail at your first, second, and even third attempts. Failure does not define you, but persevering through the tough stuff does.

That brings us back to the words of General Choi that I opened with today. In my opinion, the issue is that we want the success, but we don’t want to experience the pain to get there. We opt to quit when we should persevere. What lessons are learned from that? What are we telling ourselves and/or our children when quitting becomes the solution, not the obstacle to be overcome?

General Choi refers to the legend that Robert the Bruce, the 14th century King of Scots was inspired to not give up his efforts to free his people after watching a little spider try again and again to weave a web, eventually succeeding. The story is probably not historical, but the moral is a good one.

So, I will give you the same advice we give our son: always finish what you start, no matter the difficulties you face.

When you are in the habit of finishing what you start, you build a winner’s mindset, and that is how you develop your perseverance. That is how you grow as an individual because every milestone you achieve comes with great lessons. Lessons that one only learns through determination, hard work and perseverance.

How much are you going to persevere in your life? I look forward to the journey to see your success.

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Taekwon-Do and Martial Arts for All Ages
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3170 Deming Way, Middleton, WI 53562