Psychology Over Mechanics

Recently we enrolled our son Miguel, who just turned 7, in
tae kwon do classes.

He’s excited and enthusiastic. And I’m quite proud, since one of
my life-long loves and passions has been martial arts. A chip off
the old block, as they say!

Miguel in his fighting stance, ready for action. How's that for enthusiasm?
Miguel in his fighting stance, ready for action. How's that for enthusiasm?

One of the most important lessons we are seeking to teach Miguel,
with his TKD lessons as well as with his other activities, such
as soccer, is the importance of showing up.

You’ve heard that saying, “Ninety percent of success in life is
just showing up”.

It’s attributed to Woody Allen, and I believe he actually said
50 percent. People grabbed hold of the thought and embellished
a little.

But he has a great point. It’s true that, very often, we avoid,
dismiss, or shy away from the meetings, classes, events and so
forth that could really make a difference in our lives.

Could be that we think we are too busy. Or we are intimidated or
afraid. Or we are not ready or willing to make the commitment

I know the feeling well. There have been plenty of times over the
years when I didn’t feel like participating in a meeting. I knew
it would be boring, would go on for too long, and might not
achieve any sort of resolution.

But I went anyways, because I knew I might have one piece of
information that could move things forward, or get others thinking.
Or I could add moral support to someone else’s position. Or I
might make a new contact that would prove to be beneficial.

Same thing happens when it comes to your efforts to improve your
fitness or health, lose weight, or better manage the stress in your

You may avoid doing anything because you are afraid of “showing up”.

You are not yet ready to make the commitment to follow through –
to be an active participant and put forth your best effort into
getting better.

Well, when you find yourself hiding or retreating from the
meetings, the classes, the workouts…or from getting the
information and programs you need…or from making the lifestyle
changes that could really move you forward….think about what
Woody had to say.

Just show up. Attend that meeting or class. Do that workout. Order
that book or program. Make a few simple changes to your diet.

Don’t put excess pressure on yourself. And don’t expect perfection.

Guess what: you don’t have to be perfect. In fact, you don’t even
have to be that good to begin reaping the benefits.

For example, Miguel isn’t that good yet. Although he and I have
“trained” together and I’ve shown him some basic stuff, in truth
he is just startigng out. He has a lot to learn.

BUT — he’s enthusiastic. If he shows up regularly for classes,
if he focuses and participates during class, and if he practices
a little each day outside of class…the sky’s the limit!

The truth is, all achievement, all self-development rests on a
very basic principle: “Psychology is 80 percent, mechanics is
20 percent.”

The mindset and attitude that you bring into the endeavour is far
more crucial to its outcome than the specific skills or knowledge
you bring.

Holding positive expectancy firmly in place can help accelerate
your efforts, especially when it comes to the major challenges
that so many of us face, like improving our breathing, losing
weight, better managing our busy lives, or regaining that vital
energy we used to have.

I’ve seen it time and again when working directly with clients
and students.

The ones who are positive and excited get the best results. They
improve their breathing. They reduce their levels of stress. They
lose weight (or gain weight if that is their goal). They feel
energetic and alive again. They begin achieving major goals in
other important areas of their lives.

AND — they enjoy the process.

The ones who are negative or feel like they are being imposed
upon do not get as good results – even if they are already in
better shape to begin with.

And they are the ones I very quickly cut loose. I have better
things to do, and other people to help.

I’ll leave you with some words of wisdom by Norman Cousins, from
“Head First: The Biology of Hope” (1989):

“Hope, purpose, and determination are not merely mental states.
They have electrochemical connections that play a large part in
the workings of the immune system and, indeed, in the entire
economy of the total human organism….

“The modern physician, therefore, will prescribe not just out of
the pharmacy or his little black bag, but out of the magnificent
apothecary that is the human brain, which can activate and
potentiate the healing system.

“The rosters of emotion are hope, faith, love, will to live,
festivity, playfulness, purpose, and determination. These are
powerful biochemical prescriptions.”

You Can Do It!


“Best Breathing Exercises: Transform Body Mind and Spirit with
Dynamic Energy Exercise!”

Copyright, Karen Van Ness, 2011

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