So, what’s YOUR story gonna be?

In Community, Discipline by Don Alley

So there I was head in my hands, crying like a baby in the middle of the afternoon, completely devastated by what was happening around me. And this wasn’t just once… this was an everyday occurrence.

But I didn’t quit. I didn’t stop. I wiped my tears, cleaned my face, and got back on the martial arts floor, and kept teaching passionately and kept working hard to be the best instructor I could be. And looking back, it was one of the most pivotal times in my life…so much growth and learning. It was awesome.

But it certainly didn’t feel awesome in the moment. 

This was a period in my life from 2006 to 2008, and it took me another two solid years to recover from my failures. It seems like a lifetime ago, but I had made a handful of really naive business and personal decisions, and all of them blew up at the same time— and they crushed me. 

Really, I crushed myself. I was eager to grow and expand, but I didn’t have a ton of experience, and I was young. And my decisions reflected it. 

Fast forward to today, and many of the decisions I make about my businesses stem from the failures of that time period. It was painful to go through, but the lessons I learned have served me in countless ways, and I am a better businessman, and honestly a better human being, because of them. 

I have more perspective. I have more grit. And I have the STORY in my head to remind myself of a simple truth: everything is going to be okay.

In our classes right now, for the next two months, we are working on some of the hardest material we teach. 

It’s tough. Difficult. Challenging. It’s going to stretch you and make you dig deep on the inside. You won’t get the techniques the first time you try, nor the tenth time.

And I want to remind you, that as long as you keep working and pushing, you’re going to have an amazing story to tell.

In the future, when you’re met with new challenges and struggles, you will be able to tell yourself, “Remember when you were learning XYZ, and it was SO hard and SO challenging, and you didn’t think you would be able to make it?

“But you didn’t quit, and kept pushing, and in the end, it was some of the best training you went through. It made me what I am today…strong, resilient, and fierce.”

See, life is about the stories we get to tell. Especially to ourselves. 

Because we are going to be challenged again. And again and again. And it serves us at such a high level to have the experience of struggle and failure and to be able to remind ourselves that we made it through last time…and we will make it through this time.

And we will come out stronger in the end. 

The events that crushed me in 2008… I have had similar experiences since then, and dealing with them was almost effortless the next go around. 

We get stronger when we face tough circumstances, don’t we?

That’s why I think everyone should learn martial arts. There are so many benefits—self-defense, confidence, respect, community— but one of the biggest values? Learning how to set goals, being met with failure, learning how to push forward, and then actualizing your desire. 

There’s nothing like it. 

So, what’s YOUR story going to be? What will you be able to tell yourself at the end of this cycle of the curriculum? Or when you get your black belt? Or when you accomplish the hard task that is smashing you in the face right now?

The hard work is worth it. The pain won’t last forever. The struggle makes you stronger. And I promise… It’s going to be an amazing story ❤️

Don Alley
Don Alley is the owner and chief instructor at Super Kicks Karate in Ashburn and Leesburg, and has been training in the martial arts for 28 years. He is currently a 6th degree black belt, and has dedicated the entirety of his adult life to teaching children and families martial arts. He is also the owner of Center Stage Preschool, a Montessori-based, performing arts preschool; and co-founder of Testudo Addiction Recovery, a non-profit organization serving families in the Northern Virginia area.