It's not an easy thing to keep up with my work and my reading while taking part in the WKC World Karate Championship (I'm fighting at 10 am, send good vibes!), but you know, I try.
One of the books I'm reading is Mark Wolynn's It Didn't Start With You, and in the beginning he recounts his story about getting back in touch with his parents and somehow curing a terrible eye condition. Towards the end of the anecdote he says:
What looked like adversity was actually grace in disguise.
And that brought me back to Tuesday morning in Orlando, Florida. It was my daughter's first fight at Worlds. She'd never fought at this level and was understandably nervous. I did my best to pump her up. I believe in her; she's a great little fighter who trains like very few people train - heck, she trains with me and a bunch of grownups, and she's trained by the best in the world; I'd bet my right arm very few kids in her division benefited from this much top-drawer training as she has these past two years. I told her that I (along with her coach and other senseis) believe in her. That we all think she has what it takes to make it at this level.
I did some drills and warmup with her before her fight, and I sat in the coach's chair during her fight - at her request. I'm not the best coach in the world, but I'm the absolute best in the world at this kid. She's so much like me... I know painfully well that the only thing standing in her way that morning was the little voice in her head telling her she had no business being there. She comes by her Imposter Syndrome honestly; I have a major league case of it myself.
But I know it can be defeated. And I tell her: Look, you'll hear this voice in your head asking you who the hell you think you're kidding fighting at Worlds. You have my permission to tell this voice to shut the f*ck up. ("You know these words. Don't use them! Unless it's absolutely necessary... It's absolutely necessary!") I believe in you, I told her, and I hope you believe in yourself half as much as I believe in you. If you do, you'll be fine.
She fought her best fight ever. But it wasn't enough; she lost that fight 7-5 and was therefore out of competition. She was *very* upset - with herself, with me, with the refs and the universe. But within ten minutes she was enthusiastically cheering her teammates on.
She was learning her lesson, and taking it like a champ.
I know it feels terrible to lose your first fight on the world stage. I did that myself last year in Dublin. But like I told her, no real champion ever started winning everything. Real champions start out losing - bitterly so - and grow from there. They lose and they lose until one day they start winning. And don't stop winning. Because by that point they've learned so many lessons about what not to do that they become virtually unbeatable.
Nobody starts out a winner. Being a true champion is something that's earned the hard way. Losing your first fight at worlds is hard. Very hard. But now she knows something about herself she didn't before losing that fight.
She may not know it yet, but this adversity will one day turn into grace. I say, go girl. I'm immensely proud of you.