Posts Tagged ‘Success’

What Success Looks Like

Posted: May 1, 2018 by Jonathan Fader in Krav Maga Philosophy
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What is Success?

The Merriam-Webster defines it as “the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame,”

or see here a Business Insider article asking several wealthy individuals their definition of success is. You might notice that many if not most of them do not count the wealth and fame as why they consider themselves successful. Yet we would all look at them as successful because they have wealth and fame.

Or you might look at them and say they aren’t successful because they don’t have my family or the friends I have so they are really successful. If that’s how you think, perhaps theirs an air of resentment in your tone because of course, they are successful. Others might think that success is about happiness, for what is success without being happy. Well, this is also certainly true, but someone who is miserable but has changed the world with their success due to their wealth and fame is still successful. In fact, they may be the most successful of all (Keep an eye on Elon Musk, his self-isolation and sadness may single-handedly change the world for the good.)

So what is success? well, a far more accurate realistic definition may simply be achieving the goals you set out for yourself. These could be daily goals or life milestones. When you ask many self-help gurus or those seen as strong leaders they often talk about goal setting.

They are most definitely correct, because who hasn’t been ecstatically happy or relieved because they have achieved their goals. These goals don’t need to be big grandiose goals like being the next bill gates because goals like that are completely unrealistic for 99% of you no matter how hard you believe. Your goals and reaching them which will define your personal success must be realistic to your ability, skillsets and drive among other things otherwise they will simply be delusional unattainable goals.

Another thing we tend to do with defining success is focusing on the end goal, with smiling photos and happy times without remembering how hard it was sometimes through the journey to achieve the goal. Remember, some goals could be as simple as getting up on time in the morning, other goals could be oh lets see achieving a certain rank in your Krav maga school…

Recently I ran a few Orange Belt tests (and I can assure you UTKM tests are harder earlier than many other Krav Maga tests that I have seen.) and at the end of every test I saw what appeared to be beaten defeated people, yet they had all passed so I had the thought. THIS is what success looks like:

If you just saw these photos without contexts it would be reasonable to assume they are broken or failed. But this is the look of people who gave it everything they had to achieve their goal of getting Orange Belt. In these cases they all passed but could you really tell just from these photos?

The truth about success is we do focus on the end goal. Getting rich, getting the belt, getting up in the morning on a regular basis. But we always seem to forget that it’s actually the Journey to success which defines success or not as without the Journey, the learning experience there can be no success. To me, even if they don’t think so, these people are successful. For me, they have achieved something hard to achieve, something that many of my students fear, or some avoid because they know that this Journey to success or the goal, is not going to easy because I’m not going to make it easy.

So if success is the Journey + the Goal then there is a reason we must set attainable reasonable goals because the Journey is the hard part, the Goal is just a checkmark on a sheet or a gold star on a paper.

So when you look at the people who you think are successful, (assuming they didn’t just get a massive inheritance and did nothing else after) then ask yourself how hard was their Journey to achieve their goals? Whether we admire them for it or resent them for it it does not deny them their Journey.

SO what is Success? its many things, it starts with setting a goal, then having a plan put in place an then the real Journey the Hard work, sweat blood and potentially sleepless nights to get to the goal?

Whatever your definition of success is, just remember, it’s going to be a Journey one that will be full of good days and bad says, easy times and hard times. But so long as you can learn and grow in your Journey success may be closer than you think.


The lengthiness of this article is to be expected. Success rarely has any shortcuts, unless you are the exception to the rule. Read the whole thing!

I am a martial arts teacher and school owner. I don’t like being put on a pedestal, but whether I like it or not, a leadership role is placed on my head. Sometimes, my conversations with students are not always just about Krav Maga and martial arts. Sometimes, students ask about life advice, personal demons, and other problems. People who know me well know that I am a frank and blunt person. Krav Maga teaches us that reality is not always as nice and kind as we would like to pretend it to be. Likewise, while my approach to advice giving is not always the kindest most empathetic or sympathetic, sometimes (or a lot of times nowadays) people need a hard dose of reality.

The students who are more receptive to help, advice or encouragement are often reassured by my words. Others who do not like to be challenged, or are not receptive to my advice, often just get annoyed with me. Whatever my advice is, I am really just acting as a guide. From that point on, it is up to the individual to sort out his or her problems.

Often, students who come to UTKM aren’t here just to learn self-defense. For whatever reason, people come to us from all over the place and all walks of life to better themselves. Some of them have an insane amount of talent but lack the confidence to use it. Some of them have too much confidence, but lack competence to back it up. Some of them have had very difficult lives and are just trying to make it by. The thing is, we need to remember that we are simply all the same species with the same general goal of surviving, being prosperous, and being happy.

For some, this comes with ease. For others, it is a struggle. Of course, there are so many variables in life, and many are against us. Through my personal battle with depression, I have learned that the only one who can make it better inside and out is yourself. Others can only guide you.

What does it take to be successful?

Just so you know, banking on being the next Bill Gates is less likely than winning the lottery. Winning the lottery just requires luck, but being Bill Gates takes more than that. You can still be successful even if you are not the next Bill Gates, Elon Musk, or Richard Branson. These people are the exception to the rule and, as much as we don’t like it, not everyone can be the best. We need to stop lying to ourselves. We can only strive to be the best version of ourselves. Then, you will find all the success you will ever need.

I have broken down the concept of success into a simple model. Again, my advice may not be the softest and kindest, but again, like Krav Maga, it faces the scrutiny of reality.


Skillset & Confidence & Problem Solving + Opportunity & Luck = Success


As you can see, I have broken it up into two major categories: on the left are things you either inherently have or can acquire and have direct control over, and on the right are things that you can have but cannot control entirely. You can lack some internal factors and still succeed, as some things can compensate for others. However, you cannot lack the external factors, as they are necessary for success. (This is the unfortunate truth.) Of course, if you are lacking in all areas, then you may need to face reality, re-evaluate aspects of yourself and life, and find another path.

Internal Factors

#1 Skillset. This is a very important one. In order to succeed, you need to know your strengths. What are you good at doing? However, more importantly, you need to know your weaknesses. What are you not good at doing? Too many people put emphasis on the positives when it comes to skillset, and don’t consider the negatives. Sometimes (or a lot of times), not knowing what you are bad at and still attempting it can become a disaster. Fortunately, skills can be learned. Some come naturally and some are more difficult. Still, everything has its limitations. You can’t learn everything. Inevitably, there must be something you are bad at doing, and that means you must know when you need help and who you can turn to when specialization is required.

In school, they might convince you not to be a jack of all trades, that you need to specialize. If you’re good at many things, life will be a little easier since you may not have to work as hard. The problem is that If you are not good at everything, then you might want to consider specializing in something. If you try to be good at everything when you’re not, then your life will be an uphill battle.

To specialize or not to specialize? That is the question…

Some skillsets, however, are out of your control, such as your overall intelligence or physical limitations. Some people have to work harder than others to get to the same place. That is simply reality. The important thing is to accept what you are good and not good at doing. The other important thing is to know what you can learn and what you can’t, whether it’s due to your inherent ability, or time, or money. When you know the difference between when you can do, what you cannot, what you can learn, and what you cannot, then you will be able to formulate a plan to compensate for what you lack. If you cannot do something, and cannot learn it either, and you continue trying to do it, then you have or will have a problem. It doesn’t matter if you can’t do something. It simply means your success lies in partnering with those who complement the skills you do not have.

We are a social species. Humans live in groups because we need each other. Whether or not you have skill is less important than knowing yourself, being aware of and accepting what your strengths and weaknesses, and appropriately creating meaningful relationships so you can fill in the gaps. Stop trying to do everything yourself if you don’t have the skills, and stop trying to prove you do everything (because you just can’t, it’s a human limitation). Acceptance is the first step on the path to success.

#2 Confidence. Confidence can be a double edge sword. If you have confidence without skills, then you are just crazy or delusional, especially if you never see results. If you have confidence and skills but lack social skills, then you may be awkward or arrogant. If you have confidence and skills and social skills, then you might just be well adjusted.

Having confidence goes a long way. Also, believe it or not, confidence is a learned skill. You learn it from life, doing things, trial and error, and your historical precedence. If you succeed 9/10 times, you should have confidence. If you fail 9/10 times, you probably shouldn’t have confidence in that. (Yes, many motivational things regarding failure and relentlessness and perseverance and not giving up say that failure is important. Thomas Edison himself said that failure is just finding out what doesn’t work 999 out of 1000 times. Again, however, he is not an average person. Also, he stole a lot of his ideas from Nikola Tesla anyway, so you can’t really follow his example.) If you are consistently failing at something, you can fix it by either acquiring the skills, or accepting that you’re just not good at it (as I said above), or finding another solution through problem-solving (as I will explain below). If you’re consistently failing at something and still think you are great at it, that is disbelief (or arrogance). Arrogance will hinder you from success. As I said, confidence comes with trial and error, then practice. When you can back up your claims with real ability, then your confidence is justified. Confidence will propel you to success.

When I was younger, just like most young guys, I wasn’t very good with women. Options are limited when you’re in high school, and I wasn’t very social outside of school, and then considering I wasn’t the most popular kid in school made mating endeavors hard. But the thing is… If you don’t try, you will never succeed. It wasn’t until my adult life that I forced myself to get out there, even though I still struggled socially, and learn about women and be better at interacting with them. However, I would never have learned and improved if I hadn’t exposed myself to new environments and new people, and increased my chances of successful female encounters.

As a teenager, any confidence I had about women would have been false. As I grew older and gained more experience, confidence that I have becomes more rightful, and people (including women) are more receptive to me now. Of course, I’m not some Brad Pitt or supermodel type, but this is a fact I have accepted and I’m still confident with who I am.


Obviously, my ingredients for success are not just relevant to human mating strategies, but it’s a relatable example. Generally speaking, if you are good at something, then you should be confident even if you are not the best because you are probably still better than most. I know so many people who are extremely talented but doubt themselves simply because they are not the top of their industry and thus have a hard time utilizing their skills to find success. As I mentioned earlier, we can’t all be the best since that is simply not possible. Honestly, if your skillset is such that you are better than, say, 80% of the population, then you should be brimming with confidence.

Accepting the reality that your ability is good and better than others, regardless of whether or not you’re the best, will be another step toward success. Success isn’t about being at the top. You may never be at the top, but you can find success nonetheless. All you have to do is recognize that you are good at _______. Repeat after me, “Yes, I am good at dance,” and “Yes, I am good at art,” and “Yes, I am a good teacher…” or mechanic, or manager. You get the idea.confidence

Recognizing and accepting that you are good at a given skillset should naturally give you the confidence to keep moving forward. Unless you have tried and tried and tried and still can’t do well, then have some belief in yourself! If the evidence is there that your ability is good, then confidence you should have!


#3 Problem Solving. Problem-solving is extremely important and often overlooked. Problem-solving skills are the skills to pay the bills. If you’re not great at an inherent talent, but you’re great at problem-solving, then you’re a quick study. If you can solve problems effectively, you can move forward quickly and still find success.

By the way, problem-solving and critical thinking are key aspects of Krav Maga, which most people overlook because they are not physical attributes. It is often more important to learn how to think than to learn the actual techniques. This is because life will inevitably throw curveballs at you at any random moment, and instead of jumping to the default fight or flight or freeze reaction, you must learn to adapt and solve your problems so that you can move forward positively. Mistakes can be made, bruises can happen, but you must learn to move forward.

Ever wonder why sociopaths are often successful? Sociopaths are often very functional, very intelligent, and very good at problem-solving. Yes, they have over inflated egos, but because they are confident and are great at problem-solving, they can overcome a lack of underlying skills. As they say, fake it till you make it. Of course, that means you can’t fake it forever. You also need to make it. This is why people like Jordan Belfort from Wolf of Wall Street (2013) often come crashing down eventually. (Also, because most of the time they’re doing illegal and douchey things.)

But this just proves that if you have confidence and good problem-solving skills, then you can overcome a lack of skillset by simply learning and acquiring as you go, or finding the right people you need to work with to compensate. Although, problem-solving tends to be an innate skill or something learned and built up from a young age. Sure, there are games and brain booster apps out there, but you have an inherent limit. If problem-solving is not your strength, you may have to lean on skills and confidence areas to help lead you to success.

Of course, you will have a problem if you lack skills, lack problem-solving, and rely on confidence alone. Confidence without the justification is just fantasy, and people will not take you seriously until you acquire what you need to back up your claims. Again, it doesn’t mean you cannot be successful. Don’t despair! Your solution is finding the right person or people to rely on to help fill in the gaps and build a successful working team. A team supports each other by making up for each others’ weaknesses. But struggle to recognize your own limitations, and your team may come to resent you over time.

On the other hand, if you lack overall skillset and are not that great at problem-solving, but still have confidence, chances are your gift is connecting people. Then, boy are you in luck because you can learn to recognize opportunity, and thus find your success by being a middle-man of deals. Which brings us to the next section.

External Factors

Opportunity & Luck. Opportunities are not a dime a dozen. You’re out of luck if you miss a big one that might just have been it. On the other hand, many little opportunities can still add up to potential success.

Okay, so I lied before. Sometimes, opportunity can be in your hands. I touched on this a bit in the previous section. When it comes to opportunity, it is about putting yourself out there. It could be simply a matter of going out some place and having the right conversation with the right person at the right time. That fact that it happened at the right moment is luck, but the fact that you put yourself in the situation in the first place is opportunity.

There is a reason they say the majority of business is done on the golf course (or for other cultures it may be at the post-work restaurant/bar). Sometimes, the best opportunities come up in casual environments. When you’re in the office, meetings, or traditional settings, people are usually constrained by the roles they are expected to play, and also may be cautious of reprisal should something be rejected. Luckily, this means that opportunity is everywhere.

I once went to a fairly high-end company party (not my company) where there were an open bar and lots of food. Someone asked me, “Does anything ever come out of these? Because most of the time half the people are just drunk until fairly later on.” The answer is… Yes! Casual and probably drunken conversations are often the reason for good, fairly substantially large deals.

However, this is the reason why I mentioned at the beginning that both internal and external factors need to work together. I said that Step 1 is putting yourself out there. Well, the pre-Step 1 is confidence! If you aren’t confident, you wouldn’t put yourself out there. Step 2 is… to go out without any real expectations. Sounds sad, but that the thing about opportunity and luck. You never know when it will happen. The more important part is to put yourself out there and be yourself and wait for the opportunity to happen. Then… this part is the big one. It is recognizing potential opportunities when they are right in front of you.

Having confidence can get someone interested in you, having the ability to prove your worth after the initial will make the opportunity a reality, and having the problem-solving skills to close the deal will lead on your path to success. However, if you don’t grab onto the opportunity, and don’t follow through with it, then it won’t matter that it happens and you’ll have to wait for the next opportunity (if it will come at all). Opportunities don’t happen in one instance. Sometimes, the opportunity leads to an introduction of partners or sponsors, and then further planning is needed. That’s how you seize the opportunity. Ideas and conversations are great, but if there is no follow-through and meaningful work was done, then it’s pointless.

Sometimes success is not what you thought it might be. Maybe, recognizing your strengths and weaknesses, learning to be better, and accepting yourself is the kind of success you need to lead you to far greater happiness.

There is more than one path to success

I hope you are starting to see now that there is actually not one set of ingredients for success. Success is achieved through a matter of knowing what you are good at, what you are not, and filling in the blanks appropriately. Success is sucking up your ego and pride to do things that you might not like, or partnering with people you may not like, even if temporarily, in order to move forward to your goals. No one said financial and emotional success was going to be easy, and there will be times when you take two steps forward and one step back. This is when you need to step outside of yourself and see the bigger picture. One step backward is still progress when you’ve taken two steps forward, and thus… success!

They say “never give up” because you just never know. Sometimes, simply being consistent at what you like to do is what will make you successful because one day that opportunity and luck you’ve been waiting for will come along. Internal and external success comes from figuring out what you need to find the path toward success. You need to know yourself at this moment, know what you want to become, and decide if you are willing to put in the effort required to be a better you. I say decide because putting in the work to become better is a choice, and if you want to be successful without having to do what’s required to be better, then you have a problem. Krav Maga teaches you that sometimes reality is not at all what we would like to be. It is not common for everything to fit together and dreams to come true just like that. Once you figure yourself out, though, the pieces will come together slowly. All it takes is self-awareness, honesty, and hard work.

Never Give Up

After several years on hiatus from training in judo, I recently decided to start training again.  If you’re interested, the full background on my decision can be found here.  An update to that story is that on June 1st I was promoted from a blue belt to a brown belt, so the end goal of one day earning my black belt is slowly becoming a reality.

The last 3 months has passed fairly quickly and I’m surprised at how fast I was able to progress to a brown belt.  Is the judo club I attend then just a belt factory?  No, it isn’t.   I was already close to getting my brown belt years ago but never graded for it before I stopped training, so essentially I just needed to get my timing and speed back up to par and dust off some of the techniques.  I’m still not where I want to be, but in the instructors’ eyes I must be good enough to rate my brown belt.

It was not easy to get back into judo.  It is a very physical sport that requires you to get thrown a lot, and when you’re doing randori (sparring) your partner is providing full resistance, and so the techniques you execute have to be proficient enough to catch them off guard.  Not an easy thing to do when they’re trying to do the same thing to you.  Many nights I didn’t feel like going to class but I knew that if I allowed myself not to, it was a slippery slope and there would be nothing to prevent me from not attending the next class, and the one following that.  So I went, and afterwards I would feel very good about myself not just physically but also mentally.

Personally, I have a love/hate relationship with training.  I know some people love it and that’s all they want to spend their spare time doing.  Not me.  I work full-time, have the regular demands put on me from my wife and two young girls, and train in Krav Maga twice a week.  Throw in the judo classes (no pun intended) and my week is pretty well full up and there’s not much time to relax.  Then it’s just rinse-repeat the cycle each week, and maybe every so often a holiday breaks up the pattern.  So while I know that staying in shape is important and healthy, most nights when I get home from work I just want to kick back for the evening and relax watching TV or reading.  That’s when it’s most difficult to get myself up off the couch and go to the dojo, or to Krav Maga class on a Sunday afternoon.  However, forcing yourself to do something when it’s the most mentally difficult is what will define you as someone who is determined and perseveres, as opposed to someone who doesn’t succeed at something and thinks the world is against them.

Jimmy Pedro is an American  judo competitor and coach, 3 time World medalist and 2 time Olympic bronze medalist.  One of his famous quotes is “Every champion wants to quit… At 19, I lost at the Kano Cup, went 0-2. I remember sitting on the steps of the Budokan, thinking to myself: I hate this sport, I just want to quit, this stinks.  People see champions as winners, but they don’t see those dark days, the days when they struggled or they lost or they failed or the day in training when they got their butt whooped or those tournaments where they fought miserably. We all go through it. Nobody goes undefeated.”  So if even a world class champion can get discouraged in trying to attain a goal, then it’s completely understandable that for us common folk it can be even harder.


Before my daughter Christine joined judo it was inconceivable to me that I would re-join judo and continue progressing towards a black belt.  It was absolutely out of the question, especially given my age (51).  But now that I’ve been training for a few months and have my brown belt, it’s not only conceivable but also inevitable given I put in enough time.  And while I’m happy that I got my brown belt I now think that it’s “no big deal”.  My point is that from the outside it can seem like a real achievement to somebody looking in, because if they were in the same position I was in, they would probably think “I could never do it”, but being on the inside it’s truly not a big deal.  Now multiply that by 100 fold throughout a person’s lifetime where many people face major challenges, but put their heads down and grind through it anyway, and soon you have a huge gap between the people who have achieved things throughout their life (and think it’s no big deal) and those who feel they could never do it and think they’ll never amount to much (but only because they’ve never tried).  “Fear” is a great inhibitor and it gets less and less scary the more you do things out of your comfort zone and more and more scary to those who give up even before they try, just because they think they can’t do it.  Challenges are incremental and are less intimidating when you take them small bites at a time.

If you have doubts about whether you can do something, then the greatest mistake is that you don’t try anyway.  Yes, you have to weigh the pros/cons, benefits/risks, etc., but if it’s only fear holding you back then that’s the perfect opportunity to face it and know that you’ve tried your very best.  In the end, trying something and failing at it is better than not trying at all.  In my case if, for some reason, I don’t earn my black belt in judo then I won’t have any regrets because I’m now much further ahead than I thought I would ever be.  So think about something that you’ve wanted to do but have just been held back because of fear, acknowledge it, and then go ahead and do it anyway.  In the end, you’ll be proud of yourself, the next challenge will come along, and you’ll overcome that as well.

And if you ever feel like quitting, think about another one of Jimmy Pedro’s quotes:  “I’ve never been broken in a judo match. I’ve never quit. I’ve fought some guys who were tough as nails. I’ve had to fight for my life. But I’ve never backed down. I might’ve been beaten, but I went out fighting.”

Warrens Brown Bet Cert

By: Warren Chow