Sunday, July 24, 2011

Three Ingredients for Success

The phrase "time and effort"-- as in "Thank you for your time and effort!"-- is a fairly common one. Most of us have used it at one point or another, but I've often felt that the expression lacked something, and after a bit of thought I realized: worthy accomplishments involve more than just time and effort: they also involve focus.

Think about it: if you're learning to play a musical instrument, you need to put in the time; there's no way around this. You also can't simply sit in your practice chair for hours, doing nothing, and assume that time spent equals effort made. No: you actually need to practice. So effort counts, too. But if your effort lacks direction, if you don't have any specific goals and guidelines by which to operate, then it doesn't matter how much time and effort you put into the task-- you'll never succeed at it. Focus is the missing ingredient, here: focus refers to one's ability to strip away all the extraneous thoughts and actions and simply concentrate on doing what needs to be done. Focus is what links a person to his or her goal: it's clarity of purpose. Time and effort are linked to willpower, but willpower is never enough. You have to know what you're doing and where you're going. You have to possess direction and vision.

Time, effort, and focus. I'm not saying that these three ingredients are the only ingredients to success; there may well be others, e.g., talent, for instance. But these three ingredients seem so basic to me that it would be silly not to mention them.

So that's why the blog has the title it does. The blog's URL, "seongdo," comes from the Korean pronunciation of the characters for "attain/succeed" (Chinese 成, Korean 성, seong-- sounds a bit like the English "sung") and "Tao/the Way" (Chinese 道, Korean 도, do-- sounds a bit like the English "doe"). In China, the term originally referred to the Taoist notion of attaining and becoming one with the true Way; when Buddhism entered China, however, the term also took on the Buddhist meaning of enlightenment.

This blog is all about teaching people, but I don't want you to think I claim any enlightenment for myself. I tend to look at enlightenment the way most people view self-improvement: it's an ongoing process. Not only that, but it's cooperative: in any teacher-student relationship, the teacher is often learning as much as the student is.

In subsequent blog posts, I'll be talking more specifically about what I'm doing-- what subjects I'm hoping to teach, who my market is, and why I'm teaching. Stay tuned!