You want to get better at karate, but you don’t want to look or feel stupid while doing so. What do you do?

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Imagine that you have a karate tournament coming up. You’re going to be competing in kata, and you’re trying to decide on which kata to perform.

Do you go with the kata you always do? Or do you go with the new kata you’ve just learned?

The first choice—the kata you always perform—is your go-to kata. You know it like the back of your hand. You could perform it in your sleep. You’re good at it, you feel confident with it, and you often place in tournaments. It seems the obvious choice.

But the second one—the kata you’ve just learned—has quickly become your favourite kata. It’s new and fresh and exciting, and you feel really driven to get better at it.

So what do you do?

IF YOUR GOAL IS TO WIN your division, you should probably choose the first kata. The one you always do, even though you’re feeling a little bit bored with it.

IF YOUR GOAL IS TO IMPROVE at karate, however, the second kata might be the better choice.

But here’s where your inner voice chimes in: “But the second kata—you’ve just learned it! Yeah, you’re really excited about it, but you still make a lot of mistakes. You don’t want to look stupid, do you??”

And that voice is right. You don’t want to look or feel stupid. You don’t want to make mistakes. You don’t want to fail.

But… want to know something that little voice doesn’t?

Making mistakes is how we grow.

There is tremendous value in putting yourself out there and making mistakes.

When you’re doing something new or challenging, you’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to feel dumb. You’re going to feel like you’re being judged. And no one likes how that feels. But it is only through moving out of your comfort zone and making those mistakes that you will learn and improve and grow.

If you want to get better at karate, you need to take some risks.

If you perform that new kata in your tournament, you might not place in your division. You might, in fact, bomb the whole thing. But, you will improve so much more as a result.

You WILL make mistakes: but these will show you what to fix.

You MIGHT feel stupid: but this will motivate you and inspire you to improve.

Your first efforts WILL be your worst: but you will get better.

Think of it in terms of building muscle. Do you build muscle by lifting the same amount of weight all the time? No. You build muscle by lifting progressively heavier weights. You get stronger by making things more difficult.

And you improve by trying something challenging and new.

If you really want to get better at karate, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is exactly what you need to do.

What kind of self-talk do you engage in when you make mistakes or try something scary and new? I’d love to read your comments below.