Show others you appreciate them

  • By Martin ACTON
  • 06 Jul, 2017
Today I want to tell you about something that will help you in business, in your career, in your family, and really every area of your life.
Because here’s the truth: Everyone likes to be encouraged and edified. Everyone likes to feel special and important. And when you bring this principle into your company or your home, you won’t believe the difference it makes!
What does it mean to edify someone? It means to build them up. To uplift and encourage them.
But it’s so much more than just saying nice things to someone. There is such a huge benefit, both for you and them. And it takes a certain level of leadership and maturity to recognise that benefit and to actually use this strategy in your circle of influence.
First of all, when you edify someone in your company, in your community, or in your family, you are building that person’s reputation. When you edify that person in public, you are positioning them as a leader, as someone others will follow. You are actually positioning other people’s perception of the person you’re edifying.
I want you to think about that for a minute. Imagine that you are a CEO, and you see Sue, the receptionist in your office, who is doing a really great job. She is on the front line – she is the first person your clients come in contact with, and she is quick and efficient, and she always honours your clients and does her best to fill their needs. So you decide to call Sue out and edify her in front of the other staff members in your office. You tell her what a great job she is doing, and that you really appreciate her dedication to helping the team. You tell your staff that Sue is a great example of the kind of leader you are looking for in this company.
What does that do for your employees? It causes them to see Sue as a leader in the company. It totally changes their perception of her. And who is she? She’s the receptionist! She is the voice of the company. And by edifying her, it causes the rest of the employees to want to be part of it.
What does it do for Sue, the receptionist? It gives her a reputation she wants to live up to! You just set her up as a leader in the company by encouraging the things you want to see more of. And guess what? She will continue to step into that role.
And what does it do for you? It positions you as a leader. It shows that you are someone who encourages and speaks highly of others. It creates a mutually beneficial relationship between you and the person you’re edifying.
When you cultivate an environment of encouragement and edification, people want to be there. When people work in a positive environment, they want to come to work, and they will work better and produce more results.
Have you ever seen a company where there is a lot of negativity, a lot of belittling, and a lot of gossips? It’s because the environment allows it. Edification changes the environment into a place where people are happy to be there. It creates a certain standard for that environment and gives people the proper frame of mind.
There’s no downside to edification. Seriously, who doesn’t want to create more harmony, more productivity, and more effective teamwork inside of your company or family?
A lot of people won’t edify others because they are so full of pride. But edification is not about building the other person’s ego. It’s about positioning. Even if you can’t stand the person… Even if they drive you crazy sometimes… Even if you could do a better job of it… Edify them! It’s not about you; it’s about positioning them and pulling the best out of them.
Whether you are the CEO of the company or you were hired yesterday; whether you own the company or you work in the mailroom, this is something you can start practising today. Edify your boss, your co-workers, your clients, and your prospects.
And it’s not limited to work situations. Edify your family! Edify your spouse in front of your children. Edify your children in front of their siblings. Edify your kids’ teachers in front of your kids.
You will be amazed by the changes you will see in the people around you. You will not recognise your work environment after you start creating this kind of culture. I’m telling you, by creating an atmosphere of edification, you are setting yourself and your company or family up for outrageous success.
It’s no secret that our world is full of negativity. All you have to do is look around you. But my friend, we can do something to change that! Imagine if you lived in a culture of honour, encouragement, and edification. Imagine how great it would be if everyone around you used this very simple strategy to create better relationships, to build bigger profits, and to expand their influence. How awesome would that be?! Until next time I wish you peace, love and success. Martin Acton sensei

Martin Acton's Aikido Institute

By Martin ACTON 17 Oct, 2017
To deal with aggression and difficult people is not easy. Aikido teaches us to develop a positive consciousness. When someone is becoming agitated, confrontational and getting up in your face, what are you going to do?

How you think and deal with your thoughts is very important in Aikido. Everything begins with one thought. The more you have give & take with that thought the more it will lead you to a good or bad result.

How do you extend a positive mental attitude? This is a very popular question that Instructors get asked all the time.
You can do it many ways:
When you are very cheerful. We say you must be extending positive energy.
When you feel healthy. Oh, you must be extending positive energy.
When you are really motivated to do something. You are extending positive.

From another point of view. Some people look at it as energy flowing through a person when the person performs an activity, exercise or technique.
When you think a positive or negative thought you are extending energy. If you think negatively towards someone, yet at the same time smile at the person pretending to like him or her, the person knows your real thoughts because the person can feel the energy you are sending to him or her. So in reality, you are only fooling yourself. It is smarter to honestly let the person know there is a problem and to see if there is a way to resolve it together.

One day my Master Tamura Sensei came to me and asked me to teach a 21-day intensive Aikido course to a group of businessmen. I agreed and the lessons were to be taught at their company facilities. I prepared for the lessons and left to begin teaching the course. It was about a 3-hour train ride from my home. That meant I would either travel 6 hours a day or I could stay at the company for the duration of the course. I decided to stay at the company.
The first day the lessons started most of the businessmen were keen to study. However, there was one manager that took an instant dislike to me because I was teaching Aikido in Japan and I was not Japanese. The first thing out of his mouth to me was a derogative question full of contempt “How can you teach Aikido to us? You are a foreigner!” He used a bad word to describe a foreigner. I smiled and explained my credentials and how I was Tamura Sensei’s private student, etc. He folded his arms and told me loudly he did not give a blah blah blah about my credentials or experience I should not be teaching Aikido as I was NOT Japanese. I offered to leave but the other students apologized and pleaded with me to stay and teach the course. They convinced me that they would follow the curriculum and do what I asked them to. The manager said to “I have to be here because my company wants me here but I am not doing anything for you!”
The class started everyone bowed in, except the manager. He sat with his back to me, showing his disdain and contempt for me.
Every day for two weeks he would do what he could to embarrass, criticize and to prove his point that I was unqualified to teach Aikido. This one day he really pushed my button and I called Tamura Sensei and asked if he would replace me. Tamura Sensei was the kindest, loving, and most giving person I have ever met. After listening to my complaints and “poor me” story, he told me that I needed to stay and complete the course. This manager was a great blessing to show me my limitations and when I could accept him and love him then I would gain the victory.
I meditated on the problem and what I discovered was that I was extending negative energy back at this manager and justifying it in my head, that he was a racist. If I did not change my thinking and the way I responded to him then this would scar me for life. I needed to send him my approval regardless of what he said or did. I would extend my energy more positively. How did I do this?
He would hiss at me and tell me I was stupid. In my head, I said, “I love you”.
He would say
“Your Aikido sucks!” In my head, I said, “I love you”.
“I have a Karate friend that will kick your butt” “I love you”.
“I will see to it that you never teach here again!” “I love you”.
“You will not be paid your transportation fees”. “I love you”.
I felt responding this way protected me from any negative energy coming at me. I felt great inside, calm, confident, peaceful and fully in control of the situation.

After the 21-day class was completed he came and bowed deeply to me and apologized for the way he has acted and how badly he had treated me. He explained that he had hated foreign people because in the second world war an American had raped and killed his grandmother and he wanted revenge. He took his revenge on me. But he felt I had responded every time to his attacks only with positive energy. He respected my internal strength and commitment to walking the Aikido path. We connected heart to heart and all the animosity was gone. I thanked him for his honesty, apologized for the wrong that had been done to his family by the soldier and hoped we could train again in the future. we parted as good friends.

After I got back to Tamura Sensei’s dojo, Tamura Sensei took me out for a special dinner to thank me for doing the course. I was given an envelope and informed that the manager from the company had instructed Tamura Sensei to give it to me. There was 100,000 Japanese yen inside. It was a thank you present. The manager gave me the highest recommendation he could and promised to secure the contract with Tamura Sensei so that we would be the only Aikido group to teach at his company and its promotions. This was really a big contract. Tamura Sensei was very happy. Inside I felt very fortunate to have this experience.

I share this hoping that it will help you to deal with difficult people in the same way. Everyone responds to love. By giving the person approval the situation will improve for the better. Test it and see for yourself. Until next time, I wish you peace love and success. Martin Sensei
By Martin ACTON 10 Oct, 2017
Everyone has stuff going on in their lives. We like our stuff, we cling to it and identify it as being part of us, it is my stuff. What do I mean by stuff? I mean things that we don’t like, things we complain about, things that upset us. You say you don’t like your stuff? Really? Well if you don’t like your stuff why are you clinging to it, suppressing it and carrying it around with you like a bag of garbage?

I have worked on a world level since I was 16. I have worked in England, the U.S.A and Japan for long periods of time and not just going for a holiday for a week or two. This has taught me people are the same all over. The only difference is the language we speak and the colour of our skin. Our thoughts, feelings and actions are the same. We are all human beings trying to get through life as best we can, trying to deal with what life throws at us and we are all into figuring things out in our heads.

I was thinking about what I should share in this blog today and I remembered an important lesson I learnt in America. In 1987,  I was  27 and was living and working in L.A. California. I lived in a bad neighbourhood in Huntington Drive. At that time there were two gangs fighting the Crips and the Bloods.

The Crips are mainly an African-American gang. They were started in L.A. in 1969 by two men called Raymond Washington and Stanley Williams. The Crips are one of the biggest and violent gangs in America. They have about 30,000 to about 35,000 members. They are engaged in murders, drug dealing, robberies and lots of other criminal pursuits. They are recognized by the use of the colour blue in their clothing.

The Bloods are made up of mostly but not exclusively African Americans. This gang was also started in Los Angeles. They wear red in their clothes and they have special gang symbols and hand gestures that they are identified by.

At the time there were a lot of drive-by shootings going on in L.A. by these gangs and it was becoming more and more like a war zone. I wanted to help try and solve the problem by offering the young people another option. Instead of joining a gang to turn their focus to sports and education. I wanted to use basketball, boxing and several other sports and educational programs to motivate the young ones to set goals to develop themselves into leaders. A good way to reach the young people was through the churches in the area I thought. So I put my ideas down on paper and set out with my proposal to meet the various church leaders in the area.

The response I received at first was that I was cute being from Ireland and a nice novelty. After they saw that I was serious about trying to assist they started coming up with the “ Yeah but … ” responses. It turned out these leaders were more interested in talking about the problems than actually doing anything to solve them. The other response was I was too young to understand the complexity of the problems. Having grown up in Northern Ireland in the troubles, I did not see things their way. It was clear that the solution was not going to come from these churches.

Next, I reached out to the grassroots leadership the community activists and shared my proposal with them. They were interested and thought it was a good idea but the problem came to lack of funding. I was an outsider and they did not know me from Adam. I told them that I would set up fundraising programs to support the program but I would need their members to assist in the fundraising campaigns. They wanted money but not the additional responsibility or making it. Lastly, I approached schools in the area and offered to start after-school programs to help the young people. I again was rejected because it was too dangerous to bring children from the different parts of the city into a local school. If one was shot or beaten up the schools would be held responsible.

I looked at the situation and realized this was not my fight. It was time to let it go and let things play out as they would. Soon after I left America and went to Japan to get on with my life. At that time I did not have the skills, experience and knowledge I have today. Aikido and living in Japan taught me the skills I need to help people and that is what I am doing every day.

The lesson this taught me was that you cannot help people to change or solve problems until they are open and ready to change. Even then most people will resist change because of fear, being comfortable with their problems and having bad habits for a long time. The sad thing is we don’t have to suffer!. We have the knowledge, the technology and the skills to be happy peaceful and successful, but until we come to the point of being sick and tired of being comfortable yet miserable, things will just stay the same. I hope this can help you see that when you focus on problems all you get is more problems. When you let it go and focus on what you want you have the power inside to create the life you want. Problems or solutions, which do you choose to give your energy, attention and focus to today? Until next time I wish you peace love and success. Martin Sensei
By Martin ACTON 03 Oct, 2017
What others think about you is none of your business. The most important thing is what you think of you. So much time, energy, and life are wasted worrying about others opinions, wanting to be liked by others, needing to please others.
Real mastery and bonafide leadership are all about ascending above social approval and getting to self-approval. No matter how many people tell you that you are great it will not give you the security you are seeking. Because people change on a dime, one minute you are like a god the next instant they hate the sight of you, ignore you, or abandon you. Social approval is fickle, unpredictable, and utterly fragile.
Look at historical people through social approval eyes and see if what I am saying is true. When the world is telling you that you are wonderful, be careful because then you are heading down the wrong track. When the world tells you that you are bad then you know you are doing good.
Respect yourself. Live by your values, be authentic, run your own race and build your dreams. Be true to yourself. At the end of the day, you may have messed up or may have been successful, either way, you walked your walk and learnt the lessons of the day. That is how a master and authentic leader walks.

Seiji was a young man that wanted everyone to like him. He would do anything for anyone as long as they gave him approval. In elementary school, he was always the class clown. He made people laugh, but not always with him, a lot of the time people were actually laughing at him. In high school, he tried to buy friends. If you spent time with him he would give you presents, buy you things and he constantly tried to impress and please others. When he let someone down he felt terrible. Of course, a lot of people avoided Seiji because they did not want to be indebted to him. A few not so high-level people took advantage of him and took him for all he had. Leaving him alone, abandoned and rejected.
One day I met Seiji as I was giving out flyers for my classes at the train station. He came up and asked if he could help me? I accepted his offer and we gave out the remaining flyers. After that, I took him for a coffee and a chat.

He asked me about Aikido and what I was doing in Japan teaching a Japanese martial art? Why was I not teaching English? That would be a much smarter way to earn the money he said. I answered his questions and tried to explain that I love Japanese culture and Aikido is one of the best things Japan has to offer to the world. It teaches self-control, respect for oneself and others and builds harmony and peace. Suddenly he started to cry and became very upset. Why do people not like me? He asked. I am so lonely. I don’t know what to do with my life? Maybe it would be better if I just died. We were sitting in a coffee shop and people were starting to look and it felt uncomfortable. So I suggested Seiji come back to the dojo with me and I would try to help him.

When we got to my office I took him and we meditated for some time. This helped calm him and to clear his thoughts. He was then more open to what I had to say. I asked him what he wanted most in life? He replied to be liked by others. It felt good when people liked him. But when he could not make them laugh anymore or when his money was gone, so were the friends. I explained that his problem was that he was seeking social approval too much and no one can give him the approval he seeks because he was looking for it in the wrong place. This got his attention. When we want approval it means we lack it. This feels very bad. So we have to choose which is better to want approval or to have approval. Of course, he said to have approval. The problem is people don’t know how to obtain the approval they seek. Consequently, they run after external things, money power, position, etc. We need to stop. To take time, and look inside for the approval.
I told him to do the following exercise. Close your eyes, put your head down and focus on your stomach or your chest. If you feel bad, in your imagination open up a door in your stomach or chest and let the energy out. It feels good to let the energy out because it is not good for your body, and it wants to leave. When the energy is gone, close the door. The Universe does not like a vacuum.
So please imagine a white pearl in a dark room on a black table. This pear is giving out light, warmth and love. This pearl is located in your centre. In your imagination let the light, warmth and love expand out to your stomach, down your legs, into your feet and into each of your toes. It feels so good there is nothing to compare it to. The light, warmth and love expands to your chest, shoulders and slowly down both arms into your hands and into each finger. You are feeling ecstatic. every atom, molecule and particle is feeling alive, healthy and wholesome and it feels incredible. It is so hard to put it into words, it feels that good. The feeling expands into your head and you are in Nirvana, Heaven or some other really beautiful place everyone wants to go to. Give yourself more, more and more approval. Have an approval bath. Once you are overflowing then nothing or no one can bother you. You don’t want or need anything. You can then give your approval to others and watch as they suddenly change. This is what everyone wants, needs and is hoping to find.
When we finished Seiji was converted and he begged me to let him join my dojo. I could not beat him away with a stick. He was so resolute in his determination to walk the path. He grew into a very mature man. He became a therapist and counsellor. His practice is growing more successful every year. Life is good. You just take it one day at a time.
We are all searching for something. Peace of mind, security, etc. I hope something of Seiji’s story can touch you and help you get through life a little easier. Until next time I wish you peace love and success. Martin Sensei
By Martin ACTON 26 Sep, 2017
Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.

What happens when you make a goal, decide to do something you have never done before or to go to a new place where you don’t know anyone? Listen to your body it has a special message for you. Can you feel it? That knot in your stomach or chest that feels bad. Go ahead and invite it up and just stay with the feeling for a while and observe it. This feeling does not feel good, does it?

Most people deal with bad feelings in three ways: they express, suppress or escape.
Here is an example of expressing or venting. A person meets a friend and complains, shouts or cries and dumps the feeling on the other person. This alters the feeling into action and may even give some short-term relief. It will not eradicate the feeling, it merely relieves the pressure for now. The person listening may really want to help, but it does not feel pleasant spending time with someone who is verbally throwing up on you. This can lead to further distress when the guilt kicks in and we regret saying what we did, or the way we behaved.
To suppress or hide is the most common and most detrimental thing a person can do with the feeling. When you push a feeling down the result is that it causes the repressed energy to build up leading to stress. Eventually, you are driven automatically to act in ways that you don’t like, and would not do if you were not being driven by the feelings. Eventually, these suppressed feelings will sabotage you by taking their toll on your emotional and physical health.

We try to cope or escape the bad feelings by watching TV, going out, having a drink, smoking, exercising, playing music – something and anything to get away from that disquieting, perturbing and vexing feeling. However, the feeling does not go away. you still have it. It has just gone underground and it is sabotaging you even though you may not be aware of it.

Today I would like to offer another alternative to dealing with negative emotions. Just do nothing. Sit and stay still and remain quiet for a couple of minutes. Focus on your breath, breathe in through your nose and out your mouth slowly. Do this several times and you will calm down and feel better.
Our feelings and thoughts are well-wired together. Everything starts with a thought. How do you know you are thinking wrong thoughts? You feel bad. You have let a bad thought into your head and have chosen to have give and take with it. The more give and take you have with the thought the worse you feel. The opposite is also true. If you have a good thought and have give and take with it. you will feel great.
I would like to share a story about a student of mine and how she changed.

Junko was an office clerk for an insurance company in Tokyo. She liked to analyze everything to see the problems in life and was always very serious, grumpy and miserable. She kept her feelings suppressed and dealt with people only on an intellectual level. A real hard worker. She was always first into the office in the mornings and one of the last to leave a night. In her head, she was honest and hardworking and always busy.
Every time there was a meeting others would talk about the positive things happening with clients, how things were improving and the goals previously set were being achieved. Then it would come to Junko’s turn to speak and she would just shoot out problem after problem after problem. By the time she finished everyone would feel like they just wanted to run away and have a shower.

One day there was a meeting scheduled for 7 pm. Junko had been in the office from 6:30 am, and all day she had a migraine headache. She pushed on past the pain but it grew worse as the day went by. When she entered the meeting she was hardly able to stand and actually collapsed. Everyone rushed to help her. She was taken to the nearest hospital and it turned out that she had a stroke. The doctors worked on her for 20 hours straight they had one problem after another. Eventually, they finished and had given the best service they could. Now it would be up to Juko and fate to decide what would happen next. Junko fell into a coma and stayed there for 6 months. Her family supported her every day coming sitting and talking to her. Eventually, she came out of the coma, but she had lost the ability to use her left arm and leg. She would have to give up work and stay home. This news and situation drove Junko into a state of heavy depression. She just wanted to die. Her mother was a very strong woman and she told Junko that she was not prepared to let Junko just lie down and die.
“You can overcome this situation it is just going to take time and effort, but you can do this!”

Junko returned home depressed and spent all her time in her room. Her mother made sure she had lots of positive influences surrounding her and filling her head. She brought freshly cut flowers every day. Bought Junko’s favourite foods etc. Everyday Junko had the poor me thinking going on, and she felt terrible.

Eventually, a travelling monk came to the house and he was very powerful in everything he did. His walk, talk, gestures and his laugh. No one could resist his positive influence.He was like a modern-day Buddha. He came into Junko’s room, bowed to her, and asked her how long was she planning to stay here in this situation? This shocked her because she had the “victim mentality” that there was nothing she or anyone else could do. She said she didn’t understand what the monk was asking. He scolded her strongly for being weak and informed her that he was going take her to his temple and within a year she would be back to normal. She made several excuses for not going, but the monk had made up his mind. there was no negotiating. He left and made arrangements for Junko to come to his temple within three days.

The monk made a daily, weekly and monthly schedule for training Junko. This was made up of meditation, physical therapy, massage and purification of mind and body. She would sit in a cold river and clean her mind of all impurities for an hour a day. On weekends she was taken to a waterfall and she sat under the waterfall for two hours. After a month she started to feel better. After 6 months she could walk and use her arm a little. Junko changed her thinking and became open to what the monk was teaching her. Within a year Junko was fully recovered and was like a new person. Completely changed internally and externally. She laughed and played with the monk, made friends with everyone she met and shared her experience with anyone who was down. She returned home met a man fell in love got married and lives now in Kawasaki.

She came to my dojo and wanted Aikido lessons with me. She became one of the top instructors in Kanagawa. Tough love saved Junko. However, she dug down deep, deep, deep inside and found that the resource she needed was inside. She learnt how to let go of things to extend positive energy and to let whatever happens be ok. Every day she spends time externally doing nothing. But internally she is dealing with the things that have been suppressed for years, loving them and letting them go. When you meet Junko you feel so peaceful, calm and that she understands everything about you, without you having to say a word. The love that she extends is so unconditional no one likes to say goodbye to her. You also have this power within. Why not take the time and discover the genuine you?
“All you need is to go inside and find the power within. Solutions are not found externally”
Until next time I wish you peace love and success. Martin Sensei
By Martin ACTON 19 Sep, 2017
Everyone has twenty-four hours in a day. You have the power to make today something that you regret or something you can be proud of. Everything starts with a thought. The thought leads to a feeling and a feeling is followed by an action.
Own the day! Today you are going to make today count in everything that you think, say, and do. When you walk into a room you are going to brighten that room. People are going to gasp when they see you because they will feel your powerful positive presence. Today you are reaching for brilliance stand for excellence and love everything that is in your life, the good, bad and the ugly.

You are not merely wanting to be the best at what you do. People will consider you world class when you give your all, holding nothing back, stay true to your dreams and pursue your ideals.
Nothing may happen for a while. That is just how things appear. Everything matters every choice, decision and conclusion matters. The world turns at its own pace, not man's pace. Be patient. Believe. What you desire is coming to you if you hold tight and don’t waver. A Master stone cutter chips away at a large piece of a stone day in and day out. He devotes himself, invests his whole mind body and spirit into the job and finally with one last blow he is finished. Before his eyes out of the stone stands a beautiful world-class work of art. Michael Angelo’s “David”.
Have the courage to present your gifts with all your being. By giving to the maximum of your ability this will yield spectacular rewards. Today is the best time to be the best you.

Sumiko was a 30-year-old brain surgeon in Tokyo and she joined my dojo in Yokohama, Japan. She was one of the best students I have ever taught. She moved so gracefully like a little doll. Absolutely fantastic at whatever she put her hand to. When I showed her a technique, she would watch it from several perspectives, after that she would make notes, then go on to experiment with the technique playing with it using all her physical power (number 1), going to try it with no concentration or power at all (number 2) and then unifying her mind and body focusing on doing it exactly as I had shown her. 10 times out of 10 times she would nail it perfectly. Sumiko was so driven to make the most out of every day.

I asked her why she did what she did? She told me that nothing came easy for her in life, that whatever she wanted she had to work really hard at it because she was instinctively lazy and uncoordinated. When she was little she did badly in school because she could not focus on what was being taught. No one could help her and she was bullied by other students in her class because she was slower than them. One day a monk came and talked to her class and he inspired her to make each day a day to be proud of. Regardless of what others said or did, we all have the ability to make today better than yesterday.

From that talk, Sumiko decided to take her weakness and turn it into a strength. She paid more attention to what she was being taught, she asked questions and experimented with everything. Soon she developed a love for learning, growing and improving. She went on to graduate from medical school being the top student not only in her class but in the whole year.

She paid the price for success and when it came she enjoyed it fully. She lives every day being world class at everything she does. Sets the bar at its highest and lives at a level that few in the world will attain. Lives in a movie star house, she drives the top level automobiles, wears only top-level brand name clothing. Helps everyone she meets and never thinks she is better than anyone. When she sees someone struggling she is the first to go to that person and assists the person. Everyone loves Sumiko because she is the real genuine deal. Every day she starts the day with the thought “Today is another chance to excel and to be so good that when I put my head down to sleep tonight I can say that I lived that day fully and I am proud of it”. Until next time, I wish you peace love and success. Martin Acton sensei
By Martin ACTON 12 Sep, 2017
When you go after a goal, it is important to enjoy the process not just focus on attaining the desired result. The journey offers you far more value and as many rewards as getting to your destination. How come? Because it is the journey to your ideals that moulds your character, offers you opportunities to realize your potential, and tests you to see how committed you are to succeeding. The journey teaches you, transforms you, and stirs up the genius within you. You discover and develop the qualities of greatness such as courage, tenaciousness, resilience, compassion and understanding. Reaching the destination or goal feels fantastic. However, it doesn’t bring you the same sustained gifts that the journey does.
The next time you feel impatient, frustrated or hopeless on your path to the personal and professional life you want, keep in mind that exactly where you are might just be the best place you could possibly be. Also maybe the journey is better than the destination.
It is important when going after a goal, to never lose sight of the integrity of the journey .”
Andy Garcia the actor.
Makoto was a 23-year-old business man that came and joined my dojo in Yokohama, Japan. He really had the fire in his belly to get promoted as quickly as he could. His thinking was that if he attained the black belt position he would be peaceful, contented and happy. He trained hard every day. When he was shown a technique or a move he would practice it 10,000 times until he could not get it wrong. He got through the grades up to 2nd kyu and he hit a wall. The harder he practised the worse the techniques became. Eventually, none of the techniques worked and he was growing more and more frustrated. One day he came to me in tears and said “Martin Shihan,  I can’t do this anymore! No matter how hard I try or how many times I try I just can’t get this to work. Can you please help me?” Makoto was a hard working, honest, and sincere man that helped others every day, so I told him I could help him but only if he was willing to apply what I told him to do. Of course, he said he would do anything.
I asked him if he enjoyed the process of learning Aikido and he said he did, that he always felt much better after coming to the dojo. I asked him what he got out of his practice sessions, was it just a feeling of getting another move down? He said honestly it was, and his goal was to learn more techniques than any of his friends knew. He wanted to become the top martial artist in the world that could not be defeated. I asked him that if he achieved this goal how would that change his life? He had a grand picture in his head of being  a movie star with fancy cars, a big house with a swimming pool, fans admiring him and beautiful women throwing themselves at him. He would have more money than he would be able to spend and all his problems would be solved. I smiled and asked him to remember me when he achieved his dreams.
But in order to get there, he would have to get past the 2nd kyu grading. The way to do this was probably one of the most difficult tasks he had ever faced in his life. It required him to do less not more. To feel his partner’s Ki and lead it softly, lightly and gently with a clear purpose. Makoto was a young buck and he loved doing things with physical power. This is the way men do things in the relative world. I told him he was doing Aikido in a way similar to a beginner driving a car. the beginner wants to go fast but can’t control the car so the person has to learn how to use the accelerator. Makoto had to learn to take his foot off the accelerator and slow things down. He had to learn to enjoy the journey and not just focus on being the best martial artist in the world. Because even if he attained this goal it would be a shallow achievement.
He had deeper issues that he needed to work on mentally such as his desires for approval, wanting to control everything and wanting to be safe. I worked with him on these issues and he grew a lot in the year that followed. eventually, he got his black belt and continued his studies. But the point he came to was that it was ok for him not to be the best martial artist in the world he still was the best Makoto in all of history and never has there been or ever will be another Makoto like him. Internally he found his real self and the external things he had been chasing ceased to be so important to him. He still wants those things and is still working to achieve them but he has his priorities in order and his Aikido is world class level. I hope you can get something from this article to help you.Until next time I wish you peace, love and success. Martin Acton sensei
By Martin ACTON 05 Sep, 2017
What distinguishes people who have an extraordinary character from the average person is the way they respond to inevitable curves that life throws at them. These people don’t fold like a paper fan, throw in the towel and quit. They reach deep inside themselves and exhibit even more of their highest original nature to the world.
No one has a perfect, trouble free life. We all have to deal with challenges on a large and small level. Right now in the world, people are divorcing, families are breaking up, parents are dealing with the death of a child. Someone has been in an accident that will leave them handicapped for life. A person is told he or she has a terminal disease and only a short period of time left to live. Sickness, loss disappointments, no one gets through life without experiencing these things.
However, you and I have the power to choose to rise above our external circumstances. We always have the choice to be strong, positive and to pick ourselves and others up when things fall apart. We can use the stumbling blocks as stepping stones to our greatest life.
I lived in Yokohama, Japan for about twenty years. There was this man named Mr Ota. He was a very humble, kind and loving man that always had a smile on his face. He passed away at the age of 55 which is very young. On his cremation day, 7000 people came to the service. Why? Was he a famous movie star? No. Was he a world level politician? No. Was he a corporate level successful business man? No. Mr Ota was a man that was always the first to help others in need. He treated everyone from beggars and homeless people to doctors and lawyers like that person was the most important person in the world. He was always polite, gentle and sincere. Never boasting about anything he did. He lived by the highest moral standards and served others every day to the best of his ability. Nothing was too much trouble for him to do if someone was in need. Mr Ota never made others feel like they were indebted to him and that they owed him anything. What he had, he gladly shared. He worked as a shoe repair man in one of the railway stations in Yokohama. People travelled half way across the country to have their shoes repaired by Mr Ota. Why? Because his work was world class level. He WOWED people every time they came into his work area. He was a master at what he did. Consequently, 7000 people showed their respect and gratitude at his cremation. Mr Ota was a truly good man.
Why does society not value being good?
We have so called reality TV that exhibits the worst of human behaviour! We see rock stars hanging out of hotel rooms, spitting on, mocking, and abusing their young female fans and swearing every other word. In the news, we hear about corporate leaders filling their pockets to buy more bigger boats, while share holders lose their entire life savings. These people think they are smart, cool and better than others. They laugh at the idea of being noble, honourable and nice. To them, these things are signs of weakness. I say these people are wrong! Greed is bad.
Being nice, decent and honest is a sign of strength. It is difficult to put others needs before our own, but this is the difference between living in Hell and in Heaven. It takes guts to stand for something higher, to behave greater and to be of service to others. A real leader does what is right and what is good. Let us become real people and show our extraordinary character in all that we do, every day. Until next time I wish you peace love and success. Martin Sensei
By Martin ACTON 29 Aug, 2017
How you live each day represents your life on a miniature scale. What you do with the hours today is being used by you to create your future. from the thoughts you think, to the words you speak, and the actions you take, all these are defining your destiny. These things combined create the person you are growing into, and ultimately what your life will stand for.

What seems like insignificant choices in time lead to colossal consequences. Every day is an important day. We are all born with a purpose and a role to fulfil. We are here on the planet to become the best individuals that we can be. To step into greatness. To thrive. To live a life of imperturbability. To excel at whatever with give our attention, energy and focus to. There is not one person on this earth that does not have an exquisite power within. This is what the Japanese call “Ki”. Everyone can choose to have a monumental impact on the world. The question is, will you choose to do it?

In order for our power to grow, it has to be used. The more you use it the stronger it becomes. The more you tap into this power, the more your confidence expands. You decide what you want from life. Look around and see the other people who are successful. Ask yourself “What would it be like for me to live the life of my dreams?” Then go for it! Whatever your dreams are, just take what ever action is required and keep going until you get there.

World class people are not more gifted than the rest of the people in the world. They just keep putting one foot in front of the other every day and keep moving towards their idealist life. An hour slips into a day, days slip into weeks, weeks slip into months, and months become years, suddenly they wake up one day and they arrive at a place called EXTRAORDINARY.

As you live your days, so you craft your life. I started doing the martial arts when I was eleven years old. In the 1970’s Bruce Lee impacted the world with his martial art skills. I read every book I could get my hands on about Bruce Lee and different martial arts. I watched TV programs called “Longstreet”, here Bruce Lee taught a blind man the arts of Jeet Kun Do. This was Bruce Lee’s unique fighting system. Another TV program that really impacted my life was the “Kung Fu” series with David Carradine. Bruce Lee’s movies like “Enter the Dragon” touched, inspired and drove me to become a martial artist. The walls in my bedroom were covered in Bruce Lees posters. At that time I had no idea how I could become a martial artist because there was no place teaching martial arts where I lived. So I prayed and asked God to guide me on my path.

It has been a real rodeo of a ride, full of unbelievable hardships, trials and challenges combined with, out of the world highs like working with world class Masters like Koichi Tohei and Iwao Tamura. Being able to help people improve their lives. Seeing people coming with absolutely no confidence at all and being able to leave to live successful, happy and independent lives. Helping people to heal and recover from physical, mental and sexual abuse. From living a humble, meagre, hand-to mouth life to becoming one of the top Masters in the world. The Universe has built me up to heights that would make your head spin, and taken everything I loved, cared and cherished away from me. It has taught me that I can be sent to a foreign country, with nothing, and within ten years I will build something substantial that can contribute to helping make other peoples lives better. My skills are priceless and I thank God, the Universe and life for teaching me what I know. I live my life every day trying to make each day better than the day before. To push my body and mind to the maximum to take a technique and work it so that I can’t get it wrong and when I do mess it up, I go back and practice and test it more. At the end of each day, I put my head down and sleep soundly because I have given that day my all. If I die before I wake I am prepared to meet God and to have him embrace me or so send me to hell depending on what He /She thinks I deserve. But I say the way I live my life is my gift back to God and I want to make it a full life. We can all live an extraordinary life if we choose to. Until next time I wish you peace love and happiness. Martin Acton sensei
By Martin ACTON 22 Aug, 2017
Consistency is the essence of mastery. Show up, practice with your whole mind, body and spirit, stay at it and really awesome results will be your reward.
To get the results of the Top 1% of the best of the best in the world requires you to have the courage, tenacity and indefatigability to do what only this 1% do. They have been beaten into the ground, abused verbally, mocked, laughed at, harassed, threatened and even tortured mentally and physically to attain this level of success. Still, they never lose sight of what they are going for. Instead, they practice these following things every day:
get up at 5 am.
prepare the mind for the day by reading, meditating or praying
exercise the body to kickstart energy and creativity
plan their day and then they work their plan
relax and believe they will achieve what it is they conceive.
There is no such thing as failure. You may not get the “Win”, or pass the test or be given the promotion you so rightly deserve. But these are just lessons to make you stronger, wiser and more empathetic. Failure also shows you how to appreciate the things you want, when you get it. If everything comes too easily, then we tend to under appreciate things. Failure is part of the learning process. It's helpful and massively instructive. We have to learn to use the data it is giving us, to become even more successful.
Change is part of life. Embrace it. Change is rough at first, disorderly in the middle and exquisite in the end. When you first try to change anything, be it to lose weight, to increase your sales, to stop worrying, you will have to fight the gravitational pull of your old habits. Depending on how long you have spent building your old habits, be it a year, a decade or most of your life, you cannot replace them in five minutes, a day or a week. The latest scientific research says it requires 66 days to instil a new habit. If you keep going you will get to second base. Here is the middle ground. Your old habits start to crumble and your new habits begin to form. It is disorderly, confusing, scary but completely natural. Finally, the change kicks in and all your grit and devotion start to pay off. Now you can unleash your potential and your life will never be the same. Now you can do the things others can’t even begin to dream of doing.
Small daily improvements over time lead to stunning results. an amazing world-class life isn’t built-in a day, by manipulating others or forcing others to do only what you demand. Nope.
All exceptional achievement, be it an entrepreneurial success, financial wealth, athletic championship mastery is the result of daily, consistent actions that over time create explosive results. It is all about working hard, at a steady pace. it's all about the insane levels of persistence. And if you do it; start saying no to all those time-wasting activities, so many of us are seduced into, by this age of dramatic distraction. You too will reach your mountain top.
To double your income, triple your investment in learning. This is a really powerful idea: once you know more, you can achieve more. when you invest in education then you are making the best investment of all. My Aikido Master Iwao Tamura told me that the years he spent three hours a day in personal development were the most financially rich years of his life. Three hours. Each day. In learning. Studying. Improving. He is my hero! If you really want to get to great in the important areas of your life, invest in courses. Go to a conference every quarter. Spend your cash on online courses. Download audiobooks from Amazon. Hang out with the best of the best. Mindsets are contagious.
You have the life you’ve settled for. This idea will upset some people. Sorry. Especially if your life is not turning out the way you hoped it would. Awesome lives are not built on excuses. Sure-it’s easier to blame others or conditions for the lives we have. That way we don’t have to leave the “Safe Harbor of the Known” and make changes. But that’s how cowards live, right? We have the lives we have created. We’re living the lives we have settled for. If your life isn’t working, it’s not because of anyone else or anything else. It’s because of us. Our beliefs, that drive our behaviour. Our fears. Our habits. Our actions. The moment you wrap your brain cells around this idea and accept absolute personal responsibility, life is NEVER the same. You start taking back the power. Doing the difficult things. Taking chances and making leaps. Life gets exciting, colourful, precious and fantastic! You deserve to live at a world-class level. So make your changes today. Start now! Until next time I wish you peace, love and success. Martin Acton sensei
By Martin ACTON 15 Aug, 2017
Some people say that it is good to enjoy the moment and to be grateful for what we have. They say that to be constantly striving for more is like trying to fill a black hole, it is unhealthy and the main cause for peoples disgruntlement.

Other people declare that because we are human beings we are created to push beyond our limits and expand our comfort zones every day, by reaching for bigger and better things that will ultimately result in us becoming great. Which do you agree with?

I have given this some thought and I have come to the conclusion that both are right. How can this be, you may ask? Well for me, to be happy peaceful and successful requires a balance between these two paths.

Recently I went to the Glens in Northern Ireland, with two friends and we hiked for a few hours in the forest. As we got to the top of a high hill, we found that there were more hills to hike. I stopped to take a rest for a couple of minutes and to appreciate the beautiful scenery of the mountains and the ocean below. I also looked back at the distance we had come. It became clear to me that a short rest was adequate because the long hike was not yet finished. The lesson I got today from this experience was that it is important to enjoy the view from where you are at the moment. Relish how far you have travelled. Be grateful for where your journey in life has led you so far. Live in the now. But realize that with the gifts that you have received comes great responsibilities.

Each one of us has the obligation to excel. We should not rest on past glory days, wins and success, that will result in us becoming self-complacent. We should stand up face the world head on, every day, and give the best service to others that we are capable of giving. Actualize more of our potential and strive every day to become a more mature, loving and considerate citizen on this earth. We have to face the fears that come to us and go into them to make more of our lives. Play on a bigger scale. Use our creative talents to be, do and see more. This drive to substantiate our greatest selves has been woven into our DNA and to deny this is to negate our human nature.

As we push and expand our comfort zones, set higher dreams and raise our personal and professional standards, we will create a certain level of discomfort. This is how our world has evolved from the Stone Age days. It was built by people who felt the discomfort with the way things were and knew they could do better. Think about Martin Luther King, Gandi, Mother Teresa, Einstein. Love what you have, and go for what you want. Enjoy the journey up the mountain. Finally, keep your eyes on the mountain peak. Until next time I wish you peace, love and success. Martin Acton sensei
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