“It’s all about the journey, not the outcome.” – Carl Lewis

Carl Lewis’ quote is surprising to me because he was a 9x gold medal winner in the Olympics – gold medals are the outcome of winning and being the best in the world. Yet, Lewis clearly says the journey (path) is important.

Last year, I began taking To-Shin Do martial arts classes at Boulder Quest. For me as an achiever, a program where I can progress from white belt through a dozen belts all the way to black belt (then beyond) I learn, demonstrate and assimilate self-defense skills along the way is an ideal program for me to meet my need for achievement.

But, I have a conflict.

Part of me wants to progress as fast as possible through the belts in order to achieve my black belt (the outcome) by taking as many group classes as possible each week, studying demonstration, videos online, taking private lessons and practicing with a partner outside of the dojo.

On the other hand, part of me recognizes that enjoying the journey – the path to black belt – is what’s important. If I rush through the program, am I setting myself up for disappointment or am I missing the purpose of the training?

As Oscar Wilde once said, “In the world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants and the other is getting it.”

Our sensei, Mary Aitoshi Stevens, said to me when I received my white belt, “The white belt is the most important belt because it represents the start of your journey.”

In the past, I would have rushed the journey (i.e. belt progression) to get to the outcome (i.e. a black belt) more quickly. Maybe, instead, I’ll focus on the journey (i.e. the path) this time and enjoy the experience of being a white belt while I’m here – and I’ll only be here once. I still want to take as many classes as possible and practice on my own, so this is more a shift in my approach and my mindset than anything else.

Perhaps, too, this conflict is a metaphor for enjoying life and not trying to grow up too fast versus continuously trying to achieve more and more and more…