There are 8 Codes of Isshinryu Karate. The sixth code states “The time to strike is when the opportunity presents itself.” It is a logical statement; look for an opening and act.
In the dojo, we train our minds, bodies and spirits to recognize opportunities to strike through sparring. Yet often in the sparring ring, the decision to strike can by impaired by fear. Second guessing one’s timing or ability causes a person to hesitate. In that hesitation, the opportunity is lost. In sparring, a lost opportunity may cost you the match. Outside the sparring ring, it may cost you more.
For this reason it is no surprise that when faced with a difficult decision, fear is present. During my journeys in both karate and writing, I have been presented with many opportunities that have involved risk.
When facing difficult decisions; such as, whether or not to compete in the Isshin-ryu Karate World Championship, attend the Highlight’s Writer’s Workshop at Chautauqua, submit queries to agents, accept a new job, or ride the Tea Cups at Disney World, I ask myself one question:
Does the fear I am experiencing outweigh the regret I will carry for not taking this opportunity?
Every time my answer has been no… except for the Tea Cups. When faced with that opportunity, my fear of puking in the Happiest Place on Earth dwarfed any regret I may have experienced for not riding the Whirl-n-Hurl cups.
Last year I was presented with another opportunity and another difficult decision. Ricky Anywar Richard, a former abductee and one of the first children to be forced to fight in Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army, approached me about writing his story. We emailed back and forth for a couple of weeks. He shared details about his life and told me of his organization Friends of Orphans. His was a story that deserved to be told; I just didn’t know if I was the writer to tell it.
I explained to Ricky that I was not a published author and was anxious about taking on such an important project. It was one thing to take a risk with my dream. It was a completely different situation to take a risk with someone else’s. Although I was hesitant to commit to the project, I agreed to a Skype conversation.
On April 6th 2012, Ricky and I spoke for the first time. Within five minutes, I knew the answer to the question "Does the fear I am experiencing outweigh the regret I will carry for not taking this opportunity?" Once again, the answer was no.
Ricky and I have been working together for over a year now. We email and Skype frequently and were able to spend a week together last summer when he visited the United States. It has been an amazing journey. It is a journey I am honored to be travelling; a journey that has helped me grow as a writer and as a person.
It is a journey that I would have regretted not taking had I allowed my fear to decide.
So next time you find yourself hesitating at a crossroads, ask yourself “Does the fear I am experiencing outweigh the regret I will carry for not taking this opportunity?”
If the answer is no, strike.
I promise you won’t regret it.