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Growing up, did you often hear that you’ll grow up to be like the people you surround yourself with?

That advice is something that is stuck in between the ears of many of us and yet, it has more depth than many at first notice. First, yes – it is important to bear in mind the company we keep. If we surround ourselves with high quality people, we often unconsciously elevate ourselves to the same level of excellence. Of course, the unfortunate opposite can be true if we carry the company of lazy and sloven folks.

Here’s where it gets tricky however. We don’t just assimilate to the people we hang out with on the weekends. We assimilate to our environment – the media we consume, the thoughts and words we entertain, and the places we frequent.

To send our improvements into hyperdrive, we have to take stock of what we are unconsciously digesting and ensure it is high quality and aligned with what we desire.

With that being said, it can be so hard to find the gorgeous treasure of helpful information when there is so much to sift through out there in the wide world.

Breathe. Wipe the worried sweat off of your forehead. I’ve got your back!

Listed below our five written resources you can delve into to kickstart the elevation of your environment.

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A martial arts teacher helps another teacher with her sword technique.

After a certain number of years in karate-do, I sometimes imagine that nothing can surprise me. However, when a friend related a conversation he’d had while attending an open clinic presented by a visiting instructor, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

My friend was introduced to some karateka who let him know very quickly that they were “seniors,” highly positioned instructors in their organization. As the seminar began, he noticed immediately that these people didn’t participate in the warm-up session or the training that followed. Instead, they stood at the front of the room and watched. During a break, my friend approached one of them and asked if he would join the training later on.

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three women in a Japanese dojo about to engage in weapons sparring
Black Belt Photo

Seek wisdom from other sources to better understand your art.

A fellow who used to come to the dojo, one who was very taken with the spiritual aspects he saw in karate, once said that it was OK for him to miss training because he was practicing karate even when he played the guitar.

We were patient with the guy, though he was the butt of some jokes when he wasn’t around — no doubt polishing his reverse punch by twanging the chords of “Stairway to Heaven.” We weren’t that surprised when he quit.

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Read the Air

If you follow any of the social media used by young people in Japan, you’re probably familiar with the initials “KY.” It may sound mysterious. It won’t be any less so when you learn that KY stands for kuuki yomei. Even if you speak Japanese, it may not mean much: “Read the air.” Knowing what it refers to can influence the way you train in the dojo.

There probably has never been a civilization that has as much homogeneity as that of Japan. In contrast, there probably has never been a society as heterogeneous as that of the United States. Think about it: No Japanese person ever says to another, “What country did your ancestors come from?” All Japanese came from the same place.

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