I started taking Hapkido, a Korean martial art, along with my youngest son as a way for us to stay in shape and be more connected to each other. We started in January and just received our yellow belts last Saturday. Even at 40 years old, that was a very proud moment for me and I look forward to continuing to develop my abilities and gain in rank.

One thing about taking Hapkido that has stuck out to me is the challenge of learning something so complex at this age. The movements are not simple at all. They involve lots of body rotation, knowledge of pressure points and angle awareness. It takes a lot of practice to pass your test, never mind actually becoming any good. But I really like it, and I’m working hard to develop myself into a martial artist (I certainly would not call myself one right now).

This week in class our teacher, Master Lee, said some profound things. Knowing that the movements he is teaching us are not simple, at the end of class he began to briefly lecture on how to achieve good technique. The first thing he said, was that “we are not like him”. That’s obvious, he’s incredible when he moves. But that wasn’t what he meant.

He went on to elaborate that he and his best friend grew up together in Korea, and spent all their time together and learned from the same Master. But their techniques developed to be completely different. Why? Because no two people are the same, and ultimately you must learn how to do all of these techniques “your way”.

Then he asked us all to share what the difference between good habits and bad habits are? After a short silence, many of us said “practice”. “No. You can practice both good and bad habits.” said Master Lee. He then went on to say, “The difference between the two is that good habits require thoughtfulness. Bad habits, you just do.” Of course. That’s exactly right.

Doing the right thing requires thoughtfulness. You must visualize yourself carrying out the good habit, and all the benefits that will come from it. Bad habits do not require any thoughtfulness, in fact they usually weaken our ability to be thoughtful. I think these two lessons (be yourself and be thoughtful) apply to everything, but certainly they are critical to those on the path of entrepreneurship. The Grind is hard enough… trying to fashion after others is a fast way to lose all that is so special about you. And failure to be thoughtful can easily develop bad habits that can crush your venture. Thanks Master Lee.

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