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(Published: 2011-01-01)

Happy New Year! As the wave of celebrations traveled across the globe last night, you could almost hear the whispered question that followed the midnight kiss (or the morning after hangover.) “Have you made your New Year’s resolutions yet?”

Revelry and resolutions have been essential to ringing in the New Year since 2000 B.C. when Babylonians held semi-annual festivals around the spring and autumn equinoxes. Back then, people marked the beginning of a New Year by paying off debts and returning borrowed goods. The practice carried over into Roman times with worshippers offering resolutions of good conduct to a double-faced deity names Janus, the god of beginnings and endings. When the Romans reformed the calendar, they named the first month of the year January, in honor of Janus, establishing January 1 as the day of new beginnings.

Before you finalize your vows of self-improvement, promising to try harder to do better, here’s some counter-intuitive wisdom to contemplate. It’s the story about achieving that delicate balance between letting go and disciplining ourselves.

A young boy traveled across Japan to the school of a famous martial artist. When he arrived at the karate school he was given an audience by the sensei.

“What do you wish from me?” the master asked.

“I wish to be your student and become the finest karateka in the land,” the boy replied. “How long must I study?”

“Ten years at least,” the master answered.

“Ten years is a long time,” said the boy. “What if I studied twice as hard as all your other students?”

“Twenty years at least,” the master answered.

“Twenty years! What if I practice day and night with all my effort?”

“Thirty years,” was the master’s reply.

“How is it that each time I say I will work harder, you tell me it will take longer?” the boy asked.

“The answer is clear,” replied the master. “When one eye is fixed upon your destination, there is only one eye left with which to find the way.”

Enjoy your journey!



Robyn Waters is president and founder of RW Trend, LLC. She is the author of The Trendmaster’s Guide: Get a Jump on What Your Customer Wants Next, and The Hummer and the Mini: Navigating the Contradictions of the New Trend Landscape. Learn more about Robyn at All Rights Reserved.

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