I was the best in the world.
I was best in the world at one Karate form (kata). I practiced it and competed with it for fifteen years.
The form was unique and particular.
So was I.
Here is what becoming the best taught me.
From the moment I learned the movements of the form I loved it. It somehow just felt special to me. At that time very few other people were practicing it. I enjoyed it and it was rare.
That’s a key to being the best in the world. Pick something you like, something you can make your own, and something that not very many other people are doing.
Don’t worry when people copy you.
Near the end of my “best in the world” run people started copying me. It’s normal.
God put you here to do something unique. If someone starts to copy you (and is doing it as well as you) it’s only God’s way of telling you you’ve overstayed. Someone else is now ready for the job; the universe doesn’t need two of you.
In a way you’ve done the executive maneuver of replacing yourself. That’s a great thing.
The trick to being the best in the world is not to compete for that spot with others. You have to find a thing unique to you. Find a niche; something that only you can do. Remember; the best fishing is where there are the fewest lines.
Keep doing that unique thing; only stop doing it when you notice other people are as good as you. When others are as good it’s time to move on. Find something you can be best in the world at again.
You’ve got to work hard.
I was best in the world because I worked harder and longer on the form than anyone alive. I won more tournaments with that form than anyone too. (Probably before or since).
Show up to win.
I traveled to a lot of tournaments. I noticed other competitors who would spend thousands of dollars showing up to an event, and it was obvious they weren’t going to win. You could tell just by watching them warm up.
One time I asked a guy if he had prepared to win. He said no; he really didn’t intend on winning. Going to tournaments was just a hobby.
I realized that the vast majority of my competitors where just like that. They didn’t want to win; they just enjoyed showing up. Life is like that too; the majority of people you think you are competing against haven’t even joined the competition.
Nothing wrong with hobbies; just know the difference. Most people are enjoying a hobby. They don’t intend on winning at business, it’s just a hobby. They don’t want to win the girl; she’s just a hobby. They don’t want to win the bid on the dream house; it’s just a hobby.
Hobbies are fine. Just don’t kid yourself and pretend you are competing when you're really just enjoying a hobby.
To be the best in the world it can’t be a hobby. You have to want it.
How to use politics.
I noticed some judges liked my performance some did not. These judgements were subjective; they were based on unique life experience. I got to the point where I could look at who the judges were and know if I was going to win or lose.
I wanted to win every time; not just when the right judges were present.
I made a decision. Whenever a judge gave me a poor score I would go up and talk to him after the event. I’d ask for advice; what was he looking for? How could I have done a better job?
Some of the advice was great; it made my form better.
Most of the advice was crap. It it didn’t matter, because I noticed whenever I talked to the judges and asked them for help they always gave me higher scores next time. I even became friends with some of them.
If you want to excel you’ve got to communicate with those who can help you. That’s what politics is; making friends - even with people you disagree with.
The people that will help you become best in the world are not the ones that agree with you. The people that make you best in the world are the ones who don’t like you!
When I started competing I was good; very good.
I noticed early on that my form was better than some of the people I was losing to. This is not arrogance or ego; this is fact.
I was an unproven commodity. Judges saw my form; but they sometimes didn't give me the scores I deserved because often they were afraid. They didn’t want to embarrass themselves by making a wrong choice.
People don’t trust their eyes until they see OTHER people trusting in you first. They didn’t trust their eyes until they saw OTHER judges give me high scores.
This is called a glass ceiling.
No one wants to give you what you deserve until they see other people giving it to you. No one wants to hire the woman executive until everyone else does. No one wants to be the first to give the young public speaker the gig. No one wants to put themselves out on a limb. They need someone else to do it first so they know the limb is safe.
The way through the ceiling is through tenacity. I’d just keep showing up and doing my best. I knew eventually I’d show up at an event that the front runner didn’t show up for.
With no other front runner, the judges then had no pressure; they could give higher scores
because there was no one else.
After a few easy wins I became the new front runner.
When you become the new front-runner you are the one who gets the benefit of the doubt. You are the one the judges trust. You are the one who won’t embarrass them in front of their peers.
To smash through the glass ceiling, keep showing up. Show up especially in the places that no one else is willing to go. That’s when you win them over. That’s when you become the new front runner.
When I was the front-runner I got the benefit of doubt. There were even a few days where someone performed better than me. The judges still gave me the victory.
I deserved it.
The power of timing.
I noticed the order of competition had a big impact on scoring. If a competitor got stuck having to run at the beginning of a division they always struggled. Judges would just naturally loosen up the scoring as you got closer to the end of the event.
Early in the scoring process judges are less likely to go out on a limb; they are still feeling things out. Near the end of the division the high scores usually come out because the judges feel more secure.
It’s hard to win if you get an unlucky draw.
… you become so much better than everyone else it doesn’t matter.
I learned to never use bad luck as an excuse for not winning. My job was to be so good that even if I went first; they would still remember me at the end.
The power of one right move.
In my competition days I had one signature move.
I would pivot and do a back leg side kick; high in the air, in SLOW MOTION. To pull the move off my balance had to be perfect; one wobble and I’d lose. My balance had to be perfect. My posture had to be perfect. My breathing had to be perfect. If my heart was beating too fastI would be thrown off. If my heart wasn’t beating fast enough that would throw me off too. In other words I had to do dozens of things right to be in position to pull off the perfect move.
Sometimes in life everything depends on one right move. You’ve got to do thousands of hours to be in position for the move. You’ve got to know the move. You’ve got to execute it perfectly.
But when you put your leg down; and you hear a roar in the crowd - you know you’ve got a ways to go ….
… but you’ve already won.
Pick something that is unique to you and work harder at it than anyone else.
When others copy you move on. God doesn’t want two of you.
Success is more than a hobby.
Glass ceilings are overcome by showing up when others don’t.
Understand relationships and timing.
Know the value of one well executed move….
Pick one thing and it. That's it.