Friday, February 14, 2014

Mama AnnMaria's Best Advice to Young People

Hey, I'm talking here!

Recognize that success takes hard work, that there will be times when it's hard and painful. As trite as it is, it is true that tough times don't last - IF YOU DON'T GIVE UP - but tough people do.

Never, never, never, never give up!

Listen, I'm not just typing this for exercise for my fingers.  The real secret in life is that you can compensate for a whole lot of other disadvantages with hard work. I'm not stupid or naive. I know it is one hell of a lot easier to get into Harvard if you go to college prep schools, have tutors, take special SAT classes and don't have to work during high school. Yeah, it's NOT fair. So, what are you going to do, give up?

I have a good friend, Dr. Erich Longie,  who for many years was president of a tribal college. Students would say to him,

"I have three children. I can't afford to go to school full-time. I owe money from when I tried college when I was 18 and dropped out so I can't get any financial aid. If I take one class a semester and pay what I can, it will take me five years to qualify for financial aid again. Even if I do everything - work, pay off my old loans, study, don't fail a class, I won't graduate from college for another eight years."

And Erich would respond,

"So, what? So, you'll graduate in eight years then."

Listen to me. I'm old and one of the advantages of being old is that if you pay attention, you learn things. You are stronger than you think. The people you think are stronger, smarter or  more talented than you - they're not. Usually, they just had a head start in life - better schools, better neighborhoods, parents with more money.

I went to Washington University in St. Louis for my bachelors degree. It's a really good school. Because my family didn't have a lot of extra money, but my mom did have two younger kids at home, there wasn't any choice but for me to work full time while I was in school. At the same time, I was competing in judo. At 19 years old, I graduated from college and won the U.S. Open in judo. If I didn't have to work, I'm sure I would have had a better GPA. So, what?

I went on to graduate school at the University of Minnesota because, at the time, there was a good judo club there.  I didn't have a car and I HATED waiting for the bus in the snow in Minnesota when it was 10 below zero. Part of that time, I quit competing in judo because I was working full-time and going to school full-time. It was hard but it wasn't really all that terrible. I had friends, I was learning a lot in school. The part I think most people aren't prepared for is how consistent you need to be to succeed, whether it is a sport or academics. I have to be honest, this is the part where a lot of people annoy me, too.

To get a BSBA and MBA,  I had to study and work for a total of 5 1/2 years - straight. I'm not whining about it, I'm just pointing out a fact. That's 66 months, or 2,007 days when I worked  midnight to 8 am, then was in class by 10. There were weekends I competed in judo tournaments, got back in town at 1 a.m., sore and tired, and, you guessed it, got up and got to the university the next morning.

I've seen too many people who could have been successful but gave up. Often, they seem to have a false idea of how much work or how long it should take. I've heard people over and over say,

"But I worked SO HARD to get a promotion / degree/ championships."

and I think,

So what? Try harder. Try longer .... and if you don't succeed

Try again. (But that's the point of my next post.)


Al B Here said...

Every now and again, I need the virtual cuff to the back of the head that you've provided me over the last couple of years. This is the sort of thing I needed as I push into the last 2 months of my course work requirements. Thanks, Doc.

Kerry said...

I just finished reading your blog, going back to the first entry in 2007. I am hungry for more.

I so wish that I had been able to read this blog in my youth, when I was needy of such guidance in both life and competitions. Ignorance is not bliss...

Had I read and understood your blog back then, I have no doubt that I'd have had a much better life and been a much better competitor.

I'm an old man now and don't wish to bore anyone with some sad little tale of woe. That's not the reason for my post.

I think that your writings are inspirational and could benefit a great many young people.

The 2014 Olympic Winter games are already several days old and I've seen too many of the American team that would seem to have need of some of your wisdom. These youngster's dreams were dashed in Russia and I have commiserated with each one that I've seen. Losing sucks so bad, especially when you don't understand why.

IMO, your blog should be required reading by any aspiring athlete (and the parents), who wishes to actually give their best effort in winning. The experiences that you've had both as a competitor and then as Ronda's parent, are simply priceless. I would hope that you'd consider writing a book, so that your experiences aren't lost to coming generations.

I want to sincerely thank you for writing this blog. I've enjoyed it immensely. I also want to wish you and yours, the very best of things to come. I'd also like to say that I am looking forward to seeing Ronda win her match in UFC 170. I greatly enjoy watching her fights.

Try Harder, Try Longer, and Try Again!

All the best to both of you.

Dr. AnnMaria said...

Kerry, what a nice thing to say. Thank you

Kerry said...

You're very welcome, Dr. AnnMaria. I have little else to offer in my gratitude. However, if you or one of your loved ones are in the Detroit area and in need of assistance, I'd be happy to offer whatever assistance this old body may render, which, unfortunately, isn't much these days.

Your latest entry, Feb 17th, states that you intend to write a parenting book next year. As I said before, I think that would be an excellent resource for many folks.

I look forward to the issuance of that book. FWIW, even though I've never set foot inside of a Judo facility, I purchased "Winning on the Ground" for my Kindle, to see what interesting things it may contain.

All the best to you and yours,