Build confidence by embracing the struggles

Embrace the struggle

“Life is struggle.” I believe that within that quote lies the most important lesson in entrepreneurship: Embrace the struggle.”
― Ben Horowitz, The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers

I read this book while I was backpacking through Southeast Asia in the scorching heat, mosquitoes poking me in all directions, trying to figure out the next steps in my career.

Up until this point, I had been working through my career in Corporate Finance, not entirely sure where I was aiming to go.

Did I want to become a CFO? No…. Did I want to run financial reports and analysis for the next 20 years? Nope….. So what was it?

The hardest things about these things is we don’t know until we try things and take those first steps. Simple, right?

But after nearly a decade in this field, I wanted to try something different. When I woke up, I wasn’t feeling excited like I did when I went to train Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) or listen to “How I built this” podcasts. Then I discovered entrepreneurship.

In 2018, I decided to strike out on my own. I didn’t have much experience (if any) and wasn’t sure where to even begin. But I knew I was good at research, so away I went in reading everything. I mean…everything. Blogs, content, attending meetups, books, you name it.

Slowly, but surely, I was feeling more confident, that maybe this was possible. Don’t get me wrong, there were (and still are) days where I think, “This is just too hard.” But I remember that such a small percentage will ever take their hand at entrepreneurship, and even smaller who persevere and stay persistent.

As someone who wrestled, does BJJ and even competed in mixed martial arts, the hardest part is just taking those first steps. We’re ingrained to be afraid of the unknown. I know I was.

But this journey has taught me more than in my 10 years have in Corporate Finance. Its taught me to truly bootstrap, take on my challenges head on, and control my destiny. Because being afraid won’t take us far. Just like my first MMA competition, I was scared of what could happen physically to me — but I feared not competing at all even more.

Building confidence is a long, arduous process. It literally sometimes takes blood, sweat and tears. I’ve seen friends and family struggle through the process, questioning themselves whether the fight is worth it.

But in the end, I see them succeed in their goals. They embraced the struggle.

There are no shortcuts. Hard work is hard work, and confidence stems from that.

Embrace the struggle, and we’ll build confidence from there.

Embracing the fighter mindset

Yarty CES Fight

Yarty CES Fight

“Martial arts is not about fighting; it’s about building character.” – Bo Bennett

Everyone gets into martial arts because they want to learn how to fight. I mean, it makes sense. We want to protect ourselves and our loved ones from being hurt, and what better way than to learn some martial arts.

However, martial arts is just so much more than that. It’s more than just fighting and self-defense. As Bo Bennett so eloquently put it, its about building confidence, self-esteem, character and perseverance.

Because learning martial arts and learning how to fight is a life-long endeavor, it’s not something anyone can pick up over a 2-hour seminar.

What it means to learn how to fight

Very few things in life will teach you to be “tough”, to be mentally strong and ready to take on challenges. Too often we get crammed with life’s obligations, and when it becomes too much, we turn off. We reach for the beers, the greasy pizza, and then kick back to watch some Netflix or game on our PC’s. It then becomes a vicious cycle that repeats itself, day after day, year after year. And then we wake up, at 60 years old, realizing we wasted our lives away.

With martial arts, especially ones where you have to spar such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai, you learn to deal with your battles and problems head on. Literally…head on!

martial arts fighting

In these types of martial arts, there is no running away. Because if you quit, you’ve quit and will have to accept that reality. That’s why its so hard to stick with these activities because they challenge you physically, mentally and emotionally. Who wants to get beaten down week after week?

And that’s just the thing. You come back, day after day, week after week, year after year. You then realize that you’ve now embraced the fighter mindset. You now understand what it means to be a “fighter”, to deal with your problems head on rather than running away. Don’t get me wrong, it’s scary, it’s painful. No one wants to get hurt. But it will teach you more lessons than you could ever imagine.

My journey as a fighter and martial artist

Personally, learning how to fight and learning martial arts was one of the best decisions I made. It all began when I was younger where I would watch my favorite actors in Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan on the television screens, throwing spin kicks and tossing nun-chucks. I was so enamored in their skills, hoping that one day I too would be able to perform those moves.

But why was it important to me? Because growing up I was a victim of bullying, hazing and racial discrimination. As one of 10 Asian-Americans in my town, I was always in conflict with who I was and why people didn’t accept me. Finally, in high school I decided it was time to learn something, to be able to protect myself, and to take matters into my own hands.

fighter win

Fast forward nearly 10+ years later, I’ve competed in mixed martial arts (MMA), am currently a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (average time to black belt is 10 years), competed numerous times, and trained and sparred in a variety of arts. I’m also a martial arts personal trainer, something I truly enjoy not just because I love martial arts; but because I get to witness how it changes people’s confidence in themselves. I see myself in them.

To those ready to embrace the fighter mindset

So for those who are unsure of where they’re heading in life, to those who fear the unknown, to those who’ve been victims of bullying, I challenge you to learn martial arts. Not just martial arts, but learn to fight. Because through fighting, you’ll learn so much about yourself, what you’re capable of, and what you want out of your life.

Embrace the fighter mindset. You got this.

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