Thursday, August 28, 2008


"Manage your expectation level," I was advised. Not 'manage your frustration' or anything of that nature. It is good advice- frustration comes only partially from events, a lot of it comes from expectations. What you do is what you do, but the outcome may or may not be what you expect. Martial artists work to limit luck- the floors are clean and uncluttered, the number and type of assailant is generally known- all things I've written about until they make me tired. But in martial arts, in fighting, in life and in teaching you can never control anything completely. You don't get to pick the ending of the story, not even of your story (except suicide, perhaps).
When the ending isn't what you wanted how much it hurts will depend on how much you were counting on your chosen ending. Invested. Attachment. All the same, see?
But you have to deal with the ending you get.

Today was rough. Things have been going really, really well and I was feeling very proud. Through luck or good groundwork done by my predecessors I had avoided most of the problems I had been led to expect. Until today. I asked a simple question and the answer didn't quite work so I asked another and another... when all was done I was a little sick and disgusted and not feeling my usual optimism. (I am an optimist here- I have a deep faith in what individuals are capable of when things hit bottom if they are only given half a chance.)
So I have to decide how disappointed to be. I'll let the feelings wash through me- they are useful, data points in themselves. Then I will get back to work. There is an opportunity for huge growth in this abject failure. I just need to show them, sincerely and persistantly where the growth lies.

This will work. I'll be optimitic again soon.


Irene said...

Good advice. May I repost this?

Rory said...

Of course.

Anonymous said...

I came across the Guru's Handbook the other day ( and thought of you. GH is "a seeker's guide to teaching" and seems to touch on some of the philosophical things you've described recently, especially about patience and teaching.

As with everything out there, I take it with a grain of salt, extract what works and discard the rest.

Best wishes for what you're doing out there.


Rory said...

Asher and I go back a few years.
Take care.

Steve Perry said...

Biggest demon in my personal forest is ole debbil Expectation. I keep thinking I've got his number, but he keeps coming back in a new disguise, and I still get fooled.

You learn the easy stuff early. The hard lessons take longer ...