The Ninja Ideal of Self Perfection

By Keith Copeland 

Why Are We So Hard On Ourselves

Photo by Tobi Hollander

Photo by Tobi Hollander

Are you an over-achiever, an under-achiever, or do you struggle with what success truly means to you?

All three choices are the result of an unrealistic expectation of who you are, what you are, and what you should accomplish.

Who is your worst critic? Your mom? Your dad? Your friends? Nope.

You are!

Actually, it is not you. It is that little voice in your head. And what is that little voice? It is the relentless programming you have created on how to measure yourself

Perpetual Programming

Expectations of others are the best of times and the worst of times. We are prodded forward because we want to live up to what others think we are capable of. We are all capable of more than we think we are.

The downside is if we consistently look to others for our motivations and benchmarks, we will never come to a place of accomplishment. This becomes a treadmill of chasing an arbitrary and elusive goal.

But we are put on this treadmill at birth. The family sets the pace. The educational system cranks it up, and the media kicks it into high gear.

This is just not reasonable. This is not helpful, and it is ultimately not healthy.

Nothing is Forever

For many of us, we feel that most things are important.

Here’s the truth. Most things are not important. Most things are superfluous, temporary and will have modest impact on your life.

Even your worst decisions are most likely survivable. Granted, the results may not be your ideal. But most things won’t ruin your life. In fact, the things that turn out well rarely are memorable. The decisions we make that are based on what others think we should do and be most ofgten produce results that, when looked back on years in the future, are the things many people often regret.

Regret about going right instead of left.  Disappointment from making the safe choice instead of the choice that you were passionate about. That nagging feeling that the dream you chose to follow might have been the one that actually had the rainbow at the end of it.

The Ninja Secret

Everything is a lesson. When we win, we learn. When we lose, we learn. When we cry, we learn. When we laugh we learn.

There is a lesson inherently in each and every breath we take. So let me re-phrase what I just said. Everything POTENTIALLY has a lesson, if we are awake, alert and alive enough to see the lesson.

Everything is an opportunity. Every “good” thing and every “bad” thing.

Some of the worst things that happened to me turned out to be the best things in the big picture. If we can remember that life is just a massive experiment and adventure then we have the possibility to actually do what we came her to do: To become the very best version of us.

It is about continuous improvement and the never ending movement toward perfection.

Three Ninja Secrets to Perfection

Know yourself.

Be yourself.

Love yourself.

Keith Copeland is the owner of Quest Martial Arts, which is located at 2111 Packard Street, Ann Arbor 48104.  He also runs an organization development and personal development practice in which he guides individuals and businesses to find their greatest efficiency and effectiveness thereby creating value through their right livelihood. To learn more, call (734) 332-1800, email, or visit

Posted on May 7, 2014 and filed under Martial Arts, Health and Wellness.