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At What Lengths?

Josh Davis, three-time U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist in Swimming, said as he stared down his lane at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, the thought crossed his mind that 4 hours of swimming each day for 10 years—a total 25,000 miles—now came down to one moment in time. That’s unbelievable!

I love studying the championship habits of Olympic Athletes—well, really, the habits of any successful person in their field. What is their secret? At what lengths did they go to reach their goal?

As you know, from my earlier blog, “Committed or Interested”, (if you haven’t read it, stop now, scroll back, and read) I don’t believe there is a “secret” to success. The secret is busting your tail with hard work and putting in long hours.

Sifu Fogg always told us there’s nothing secret about mastering mantis kung fu. He said, “You just train hard, then do it again and again.” I’m doing that, but I’m still holding out for the kung fu download that Neo got in Matrix.

I remember before a tournament, I often trained 3-7 hours per day. John Cheng did more than that!

So, at what lengths will we go to achieve our goals? Here is a (very) few of the successful people I studied.

  • Eight-time U.S. Olympic Gold Medalists Michael Phelps swims a minimum of 5 hours per day 6 days per week.
  • Vladimir Horowitz, an acclaimed Russian-American concert pianist practices from 4-8 hours per day. Closer to home, my kung fu student, Shawn Bradley, when practicing for his final concert to graduate, played his piano up to 10 hours per day!
  • John Grisham wrote every day in the predawn hours before he went to work.
  • Stephen King writes a minimum of 3 hours per day 7 days a week. He says doesn’t even take Christmas off.
  • Walt Disney worked tirelessly on achieving his dream of creating the first full-length animated feature, despite all of Hollywood, and even Walt’s family, saying he couldn’t do it.
  • Sylvester Stallone loaded up on caffeine and wrote the Rocky screenplay in just three days.

After studying these people, I did discover their one common secret: persistence.

Psychologists tell us that to develop a habit, you must practice something one hour per day for 40 days.

To master something it takes 10,000 hours of practice to know all about that subject.

That’s 20 hours per week for 10 years!

Who’s up for the challenge?

Please comment and share your success stories with me.

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3 Responses to “At What Lengths?”

  1. Adam C Says:

    Great post Sifu, so true!

  2. Michael Miller Says:

    The motivation of continuous training to achieve a personal goal has been a lengthy process. Even during the earliest writings in the Bible dating back to approximately nine to ten thousand years we see that each time advances were made it came at a huge price, but the persistent over came.

    My example is I have been developing through my studies in college. The average time spent studying in graduate school full time is twelve hours per week per class. Undergraduate was about eight hours per week per class. Which is why graduate school is full time at three classes as appose to four undergraduate. The persistent will over come as I did with the education system but as that comes to a close, I need a new challenge to over come and face which is why I decided to keep studying Kung Fu. I want to be a master one day and stay persistent with Kung Fu and fully develop my mind and body not just my mind as I did with school. If I practiced horse stance for 20 hours per week I bet I could have my 2 minutes down flat lol.

    So from a HRD perspective. HRD is about understanding the motivations of people. Specifically, but under much debate, rather its just for work relationship or for life relationships. My experience in life has taught me that life challenges helps motivates change and that’s what people are motivated by. The process, of change, is hard but for the persistent that see it through and never back down they can over come their circumstances, or pains in the case of kung fu.

    All in all “At what Lengths” is explaining the human nature transformation learning process. In order to transform from one person to a better person, or a person you desire to be, takes hard work and persistence to overcome but also learning from our experience (both mistakes and good outcomes), people can develop into something much greater than they see themselves ever being.

  3. Ja Gow Andre Johnson Says:

    I enjoyed reading your blogs Sifu Jones. Nice work!