Burn Out

I read somewhere not too long ago that there is no such thing as burn out. There is only boiling water.

We’ve all boiled a pot of water before. It takes heat or fire to bring that water to just the right temperature to make it boil. Once it reaches that temperature it has to be controlled. If you add more heat, the water will boil over. If you use to little it will cease boiling at all.

You must compare your training to that pot of water. Your desire is the fire that brings it to the boiling point. Your determination and devotion are the heat that turns that container of water into a boiling cauldron. If you allow that fire to go out, the water will cease to boil. Soon it will become just a pot of luke warm water. Then finally it will become cold again.

It is easy to find an excuse to not train. Most cases of burn out begin with a real reason whether it be legitimate or self – perceived .
Legitimate reasons might be things like a sickness or injury. You might not feel well and miss class for a couple of nights. You may injure yourself in the dojo or outside of it. Of course it takes some time for the injury to heal. You have no real control over these things.
On the other hand there are things that happen that we do have control over. You have a disagreement with an instructor. You get angry with another student. You feel like you aren’t learning anything and are bogged down.

So you take a few nights off. You catch up on a television show you haven’t seen in a while. You hit a new level in your favorite video game. You see some people you haven’t seen in a while. It gets easier and easier to simply not go. Soon those few nights have become a couple of weeks. Those couple of weeks turn into a month. Then one night you think about it and decide maybe you should go to class. You miss it. You didn’t realize how much it was a part of your life. Yep, you want to go. There’s just one small problem: how do you explain to your instructor why you’ve been away? As you sit there and debate that in your mind, a door closes. Most times if it reaches this point the student never returns to the dojo.

What a bunch of crud. It’s a cycle, people. It’s one of those things that after it starts the fire gets cooler and cooler until finally it goes out. Most people don’t even realize that they are deluding themselves until it is, in their minds, too late.

Always remember the Spirit of First Beginnings .

This part of the Go Do Shin that is your most powerful weapon in avoiding burn out and not letting the fire and devotion dissipate . When you first began training you were excited. Everything was new. You were part of something that you had always wanted to be. You met new people. You learned new things. You felt proud to be a part of this brand new experience in your life.

Guess what…
All of those things are still true! Don’t be embarrassed. Believe it or not most of the time your instructor will understand. Get up off the sofa, pack your uniform, and get down to the dojo!

Don’t let the fire go out!
So you feel like you’ve reached a sticking point. Well tell somebody. It’s completely natural to reach this point. I think everyone has. The thing is there are things that can be done about it but only if someone actually knows that is where you are. A lot of the time it is simply because your instructor is waiting on something from you. Maybe your front kick isn’t looking “right”. Maybe the timing in your forms is just a little bit off. As strange as it sounds maybe your instructor is waiting on you to come to him. It could just be that your instructor is waiting to see some kind of spark from you.
No matter. It is up to you to keep that fire lit inside of yourself. It is your responsibility to be your very own thermostat and notice when you think you are cooling off. The last thing you want to do is hide it if it happens. If you can’t fix the problem how do expect someone else to if they don’t know there is a problem to begin with.

Have determination (Never forget Effort) and find that determination inside of yourself to keep training.

  1. June 9, 2011 at 10:50 pm

    it happens all the time, sensei. I used to obssess on Tom Clancy and Robert Ludlum books, then I suddenly stopped reading. Right now, I’m reading another Ludlum book on Jason Bourne( but by another author… Ludlum is deceased ), but I;m stucked on Chapter 11 and don’t have the interest to pick it up again. But, one thing, I’m sure one day, that passion will return. Maybe it’s just a phase… I don’t know. I hope my interest in blpgging doesn’t wane, either. I’m losing steam.

  2. June 10, 2011 at 7:06 am

    Keep the water in the pot at a smooth steady simmer. I know what5 you mean. I write sometimes. I say sometimes because I usually let the fire go out and the water becomes cold after a while. I will go for months without writing. It’s sort of the same with the blog. Sometimes it takes me a while to either come up with, or find, useful information to post here. Then when
    I do it’s like a wildfire pouring out of my mind through my fingers and into the blog.

    I have a suggestion for you. Put the Jason bourne book away. Think of something else you are really interested in. Find some writings on that and read them. You will probably jump start your interest in reading again. then you can come back to Jason with a new vigor.

    As far as writing on the blog my philosophy is quite simple. I would rather write things that are interesting and useful than to simply fill the pages with rantings and gobly gook. So I may go for a while without posting. It’s the same with my training. I may get really aggravated at a kata I’m doing. I will put that form on a shelf for a while. Let it rest. I may focus on kumite (sparring) or even other forms. Then after a while I will come back to it and it’s like it’s frsh and new to me.

  3. June 13, 2011 at 10:22 am

    I guess I ‘m the type who jumps from one thing to another, unless of course, it’s something that I get paid for. A job. Last year, it was cooking/baking and gardening,( planted all kinds of veggies.) Very productive though. As for cooking… although I don’t cook much nowadays, the skills stayed with me. I think the need to explore is part of human nature….. otherwise, we’d become like robots, just doing things without passion and emotion.

  4. June 13, 2011 at 10:31 am

    I agree. Passion, emotion, desire, are the things that make that fire I keep talking about.

    I planted a garden myself this year. So far (keeping my fingers crossed) so good.

  5. June 17, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    Great post. Where I train if anyone goes missing for a period of unexplained absence everyone notices and starts contacting them on Facebook to find out what’s going on – knowing that the rest of the class wants you there is a great motivator.

    On another note my Fiancé works in Human Resources and she works really hard to get those people on sick leave back into work. Like you’ve mentioned, the longer they are off the harder it is to get them back to work. If they are off for longer than 6 weeks then they are highly unlikely to ever come back. Their fire has gone out.

  6. June 20, 2011 at 7:11 am

    Thank you very much for the insights and comments, Jamie. I see you have studied Kung Fu. I presented a seminar on our Tensho kata this past Saturday. The kata has some very deep Chinese roots and we had three Kung Fu practitioners attend. Afterward we had a great conversation on karate, kung fu, and the martial arts in general.

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