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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

  “ We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort. – Jesse Owens


When examining the vital characteristics of great leaders and successful people, one characteristic seems to stand out above all the rest: self-discipline. Why? Because life is full of unforeseen challenges and problems on the path to success and achievement. To overcome these challenges, leaders must learn to demonstrate the four key ingredients to living a self-disciplined life, including self-control, motivation, persistence, and goal setting.

In a world where children have limited experience with delayed gratification and lives are saturated with messages of instant gratification from technology and advertisements, it is important, now more than ever, to teach the value of self-discipline. The frantic pace of family life and extremely busy daily schedules provide very few opportunities for people to think before they act. As a result, is it increasingly more important to develop the personal discipline to make sound decisions and take the responsibility to complete tasks. Having self-discipline means you control your actions: your actions do not control you. Just like your muscles can get stronger, so can your self-discipline with exercising and using your inner strength. 

Here are some ways to strengthen your self-discipline:
1.  When you come home from work or school, train yourself to complete needed tasks around the house before watching TV or playing video games
2.  When you are mad or angry, stop and think about what you are going to say before saying things you might regret.
3.  If you make a mess or get something dirty, clean it before you are asked.
4.  Begin to make healthier choices when it comes to choosing snacks and food, regardless of cravings or wants.
5.  Keep a journal and note your successes. This will help you stay motivated and on track.
6.  Learn moderation. Sometimes, there is too much of a good thing. Recognize how having too much is having an effect on your life and begin to scale back.
7.  Reward yourself when you stay on course or in control, despite difficulties or temptations.

These are only a few ways in which you can strengthen your self-discipline. Keep in mind, as a martial artist, you set an example for others to follow. Continue to make sure you are taking the steps to create a disciplined life so that you accomplish goals and influence others. 
12:28 pm edt 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Marcus Luttrell

050628-N-0000X-001 United States Navy file photo of Navy SEALs operating in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. From left to right, Sonar Technician (Surface) 2nd Class Matthew G. Axelson, of Cupertino, Calif; Senior Chief Information Systems Technician Daniel R. Healy, of Exeter, N.H.; Quartermaster 2nd Class James Suh, of Deerfield Beach, Fla.; Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Marcus Luttrell; Machinist's Mate 2nd Class Eric S. Patton, of Boulder City, Nev.; and Lt. Michael P. Murphy, of Patc  On June 28, 2005, Luttrell and SEAL Team 10 were assigned to a mission to kill or capture Ahmad Shah (nom de guerre Mohammad Ismail), a high-ranking Taliban leader responsible for killings in eastern Afghanistan and the Hindu-Kush mountains. The SEAL team was made up of Luttrell, Michael P. Murphy, Danny Dietz and Matthew Axelson. Luttrell and Axelson were the team's snipers, with Luttrell also being the team Medic; Dietz was in charge of communications and Murphy the team leader.

Three goat herders stumbled upon the hiding spot of the four SEALs. The men were detained by the team but the SEALs were unable to verify any hostile intent. Murphy, the officer in charge of the SEAL team, put the fate of the goatherds to a vote. Axelson voted to kill the Afghanis, and Dietz abstained. Murphy told Luttrell that he would vote the same as him so with his vote it was decided to let the Afghans go, for fear of possible criminal charges back in the United States. (Note that this account has been disputed by Murphy's father.)

The released herders disappeared and likely immediately betrayed the team's location to local Taliban forces and within an hour the SEALs were engaged in a fire-fight against a force of 80-150 enemy fighters. The SEAL team engaged the Taliban for over two hours in a running fire-fight through the region's hills and valleys.

Team leader Lt. Michael P. Murphy was awarded the Medal of Honor for exposing himself to enemy fire to reach higher ground from which to transmit a call for backup. The four-man SEAL team had killed around 70
of the Taliban despite most of them being shot several times but still carried on with the fight, however, Axelson, Dietz and Murphy were eventually killed. Luttrell barely survived after being blown off a cliff by an RPG.

An CH-47 Chinook helicopter was hastily dispatched upon receiving Lt. Murphy's distress call with a force consisting of eight SEALs and eight 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment "Nightstalkers" to rescue the team, but the helicopter was shot down by an RPG upon reaching the site of the battle. All 16 men on the Chinook were killed, including Shane Patton, whose place on Operation Red Wing had been taken by Danny Dietz.

Luttrell was the only survivor of the SEAL team. Badly wounded, he managed to walk and crawl seven miles to evade capture, during which he killed six more Taliban fighters. He was given shelter by tribesmen from Sabri-Minah, a Pashtun village. (This was done because of "Lokhay Warkawa", a Pashtun belief that any stranger in need of shelter must be given it.)  The villagers sheltered him and provided medical aid, and refused Taliban demands that Luttrell be turned over to them. After several days one of the village elders trekked twenty miles to a US base to reveal Luttrell's location, and he was finally rescued six days after the battle by US forces.

See Mr. Luttrell on the TODAY show interviewed by Matt Lauer

8:39 am edt 

Monday, July 5, 2010

Half Steps and Smiles
Let me begin by saying I love a parade.  There is little to compare to a great hometown 4th of July parade, the kind you have to set your chair eight days ahead of time for.  I know the reason for this wonderful experience can only be the people around me.  Canonsburg’s annual festival of chairs leading up to the event can be stressful, planning the chair drop, band practice, the traditional family parade rituals, the cookout afterwards and the neighborhood fireworks after dark. I heard on the news that some 50,000 people attended the Canonsburg parade this year on Saturday July 3rd.  I was one and it was easy to believe that number, I saw the people smiling back as I smiled at them. 

Oh how 24 hours can make a difference, Sunday July 4th Pam and I made our annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas for the MAIA (Martial Arts Industry Association) Super Show and convention. I already miss the Lil’ Dragons, my students, and my small town.  As I walked down Las Vegas Boulevard I out of habit look people in the eye.  Like I said I saw the smiles in Canonsburg, when I made eye contact with many of the people walking the other direction my smile was returned most often with a glare striking similar to that of a fighters stare down inside the octagon. 

After the parade we picked up our chairs and made our way back to the car like everyone else.  In Canonsburg when two people are on a collision course they each take a half step to the side, politely smile, and often exchange a mannerly comment such as “sorry” or “excuse me”.  On a short walk I became very proud of where I’m from, how I teach, and the way my children and students act in public.  I wish so many more people could learn the lessons of the Lil’ Dragons and use your martial arts manners not just on the mats, but everywhere.

9:06 am edt 

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