Have You Ever Given Up Too Soon?
I am an outdoor enthusiast. Hiking, biking, climbing, training — it doesn't matter. If it takes place outside, I love it. Some time ago, I went on an intense mountain-bike ride with two friends. We picked a challenging course near Forest Hill, California. I do a decent bit of cycling on the road, but it had been years since I pushed myself on a mountain bike on a hard trail.

Both my friends had better bikes and a lot more trail experience than I, but I did my best to keep up, and we had a great time. The ride illustrated to me one of the wonderful things about martial arts training: The attributes of balance, timing, strength, flexibility and focus carry over to other activities. (Another bonus became evident that day: I had only one crash but managed to avoid injury.)

The highlight of the day was swimming in the American River after the ride. We picked the perfect spot for it. The water was deep, calm and cool. One of my friends mentioned that when he was in college, he used to pick up a large rock and try to walk across the river in this very spot. Of course, I had to try it.

I found a perfect rock, probably around 30 pounds, and began to make my way to the opposite side. As the river got deeper, I did my Wim Hof breathing so I could absorb as much oxygen into my system as possible before my face went under. Once I was fully submerged, I stayed calm. I knew I could do it. All I had to focus on was taking one step after another until I got to the other side.

I was doing great and was certain I was almost there — and then a voice in my head started saying, "You better quit now. You are not going to make it. It's too far."

I tried to block out the voice and stay calm because I knew I still had plenty of oxygen in my system. Sometimes, however, once fear grabs you, it's all over. This was one of those times. I dropped the rock and made a dash for the surface, only to find that I was literally two steps from completing the journey. Ugh!

This experience got me thinking about how often we give up without knowing that a major victory is just two steps ahead of us. Many martial arts businesses are experiencing the hardest times they've ever had right now. We see and hear about schools closing every week, and it's not hard to understand why. It's difficult to run a school even under the best of circumstances; it's even harder with COVID-19 rearing its ugly head.

In these challenging times, I encourage all of you to double down on your commitments and work harder and smarter than ever. Remember that the world needs what we have to offer. We owe it to our communities and students to improvise, improve and adapt. We need to find a way to adjust to this new environment.

Adversity doesn't make a person; it reveals the person. This is our chance to step up. I encourage everyone to join me in striving to be a little extra compassionate, a little extra calm and a little extra confident in the face of adversity. Often, the difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that "little extra."

To contact Dave Kovar, send an email to dave.kovar@kovars.com.

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