Inspiration is an interesting thing.   I think most of us consider it as something that happens to us, rather than something that we seek, or even create.

We've all had those sort of aha moments where we saw something, read something, heard something or were told something that really inspired us.  Those external stimuli instigated us to act, learn or better ourselves in some way.

What if there was a way, to find a constant, or at least more regular source of inspiration?

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Frank Shamrock, four-time UFC champion.  He was a very interesting man, and had a very clear explanation for his successes in mixed martial arts competition and in life.

He said, he always found a plus, a minus, and an equal.

In the context of martial arts training (any style of martial arts), this make a lot of sense.  In martial arts training, we have instructors or coaches and senior ranking students; these are our pluses.   We have new students starting all the time, or we may even have our own students; these are our minuses.  We have training partners, other students that are similar in rank and experience; these are our equals.

It's an interesting, but rather straight forward concept.  How does this relate to finding inspiration?

Remember, that we typically consider that inspiration is something that happens to us.   And, frankly, sometimes when you try to hard to find something like inspiration, it only makes the task more difficult.

However, something we can do pro-actively is seek out pluses, minuses, and equals.   In the dojang (training hall) they are all around us and the first step is to start recognizing those relationships.

If you are someone's plus, then they are your minus and vice versa.   All of these connections are two-ways.  The minus does not only thrive from the plus, the plus also thrives from the minus.   This is part of our um-yang philosophy (harmony of opposites).

By observing these relationships, and your part in them, you will consistently find sources of inspiration.  Note: inspiration doesn't always come from your plus.

Your minus' struggle could inspire you to do more and work harder and find ways to help them, which will in turn make you better.

Your minus maybe catching up to you thus motivating you to work harder and stay ahead.

Your equal may be falling behind and you'll make sure they don't, thus making you do better as well.

Your equal may be getting ahead and you'll intensify your training in order to stay on par.

You may be catching up to your plus and that realization enables your to go the extra mile and meet or surpass them.

Your plus may be widening the gap and you see that you mustn't let that gap get vast and you are re-invigorated to try and keep up.

You see my point.

You can take this a step further and have A plus, A minus and AN equal for specific areas of your life.   Let them know that you would like to create and nurture this relationship.  Worthy pluses, minuses and equals will realize that the benefit will be mutual.


Somnath Sikdar


Somnath Sikdar
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Master, 7th Dan Black Belt
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