Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Turnaround - Attitude

"Happy face, Comrade! Happy face!"

If you're coming to the RKC this weekend in St. Paul, be prepared to hear Pavel (and a few of the rest of us) speak those words to you. But before you blow it off as some glib comment, you'd better know what the hell's behind it.

It's VERY easy to get caught in a negative spiral. You name the situation, and the spiral exists. Whether it's "poor spending habits" leading to "the inability to save money" leading to "debt" leading to God knows what else, OR it's a "bad relationship" leading to "drinking & drugs" leading to "violence" leading to "incarceration", there are all kinds of ways that lead down the road of ruin.

"He talks, but he's never been through anything really challenging himself."


There've been a few times in my life that I dealt with less-than-ideal situations in a less-than-ideal manner. Here's just one snapshot... At one point, I was putting away a full bottle of Bacardi Silver and smoking 1.5 packs of Camels or Marlboro Reds a night! I was in the process of ending a very bad relationship and had a temper that's far worse than anything I've exhibited in the last decade. If there was a fight to pick, I picked it. If there was a drink to down, I'd slam it. If there was a bad-boy behavior, I'd either revel in it or try it out.

Dark, brooding, angry, depressed... call it whatever you want, but the bottom lines looked like this:
- Bad grades, on the verge of failing my way out of UCLA
- Horrible relationships, although plenty of pretty girls
- No steady income stream
- In danger of incarceration almost any given night for fighting
- Constant bad mood and generally dark outlook on life
- And less-than-healthy habits, although I was training like a maddog back in those days.

Sometimes I wonder how I made it out of that period of my life without ever doing hard drugs or ending up dead.

What made all that change?

A simple decision... Instead of going with the "life sucks" crowd and just "living in the moment" as I had been doing, I started trying to live life forcefully in the direction of what my highest ideals were.

It's not like I made a total 180 right there on the spot. Not even bloody close. It's been a slow turnaround, and it's still in progress. But that turnaround begins and gains momentum each time you have a choice to do something that is not in keeping with your highest ideals and you consciously accept responsibility for your actions, for your words, for the look on your face and act in accordance with your ideals.

You train yourself to live life with greater integrity. Then you prune your network and surround yourself with those who will truly bolster you towards those goals you set. You create a support system with social synergy - like-minded individuals pushing themselves and each other for a goal. That network reinforces your mindset and makes it easier and more rewarding each time you make decisions and act in a positive manner.

So the next time you reach for the six-pack, the ice cream tub, the rolled-up dollar bill, or the next time you make a snide remark, mumble away some complaint, flip someone off on the freeway, pass gas in a co-worker's cubicle, or do anything less than what is really positive, ask yourself "What benefit did I create for myself or anyone else by doing that?"

If you can't give a sincere answer where there is true benefit, then choose otherwise. Life is about choices. Failure is about allowing ourselves to make excuses. Success is about choosing responsibly.

So at those moments when life gets hard, relax your face, focus your mind, engage your body, and kick some arse!


Franz Snideman said...

Awesome post Mark! I can relate to you Mark, although not in the same way, but in an equally destructive manner. I think if every man is rigorously honest with himself he will tell you that mastering "self" and the negative mindsets, thoughts, habits and attitudes we have is tough to do. But, it is the RIGHT thing to do and the only way to truly make a difference in our family's, community and workplace. If we cannot master ourselves we cannot effectively minister to others.

Love this stuff!

Dr. Mark Cheng said...

Thank you, Franz. The longer I'm involved with Pavel and the RKC family, the more I realize that the real work (or rather, real success) is about recognizing and obliterating the negativity inside ourselves and training others to do the same.

That job can be tiring & thankless sometimes, but in the big picture of things, it's the most powerful job out there short of parenthood.

Rannoch Donald RKC said...

Mark you are the real deal. I know it. And you and I know we've all been there.

We are all a work in progress doing the best with what we've got.

We are the words we speak. Words become thoughts, thoughts become emotions, emotions become actions.

Have a fantastic trip!



Boris said...

Great stuff Doc! I had something constructive to say but right now the only thing I can think about is passing gas in a co-worker's cubicle...

Ah yes - I remember! I was going to say that I was once a very, very angry person. Thankfully, I had some very positive people peppered throughout my life that made all the difference in how I turned out - martial arts and sports were huge turnarounds for me. Thank God my wife was able to weather my a-holishness for many years...

Thanks again Doc - great stuff. Is that first pic of you?

Dr. Mark Cheng said...


That first pic is of me, doing Shuai-Chiao (Chinese throwing art) with my student Dean Quan.

I'm very grateful for all who tolerate me these days. So many times, like right now as I type this in St. Paul, I feel so unworthy.

Much love to all who read this blog,

Mark Reifkind said...

great post Doc. You have come through the fire intact.well done and there is so much more to come.thanks for the inspiration.

Amy said...

Much love back at yah Doc! I can't wait to make a trip to CA to train with you again AND share a glass of ice covered in a certain Canadian beverage. (Wink, Wink)


Dr. Mark Cheng said...

Professor, it should go without saying that anytime you come to So Cal, I eagerly look forward to training, hanging, and imbibing with you. Meeting you was one of the highlights of the weekend!

There are probably going to be some amusing blogposts in the coming days about the phrases "You die!" [Whitley], "You'll wish you were dead" [Cheng], and of course "Hard Styyyyyle" [Whitley & Cheng].

Iron Tamer said...

Doc, I meant everything I said to you this weekend.

Cheng is Chinese for Hardstyle!

Dr. Mark Cheng said...

Big Dave, as I've gotten to know you better, I appreciate you more & more. Thank you for being a great guide as my senior and an increasingly good friend.

I look forward to decades more of a deepening friendship and meant every word I said to you this weekend, too.

I think we're gonna have to rename our tour ... The TRIFECTA Tour. :-D

Bob Dudley said...

Doc, it was a please having you as an assistant this weekend. Thanks for all your help! You were a big part of making making the RKC Certification one of the best experiences of my life! I look forward to continuing to improve and apply what I learned as part of the RKC family!

Pete said...

Nice post Doc. I couldn't imagine you in a destructive manner having only met the positive person that you are now. I am hoping to come to one of your weekend classes when I am down later this summer. I will be attending the LAPD groundfighting school at their academy, and I know that is a hop,skip from Santa Monica!

Keep on being that powerful influence that you are!