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Fade to Black – How success is a progression rather than a step change

My Taekwondo instructor (a very philosophical person in his own right) said something very interesting recently.

He suggested that we do not suddenly achieve a new level of success, such as a change in belt colour. As we work on our goals, learn new things and achieve new skills we are progressively achieving that new level. Over time, if we use the analogy of a martial arts belt, our imaginary belt starts to obtain the new colour. In my case, my Red Belt is beginning to fade from red to black as I gain the skill required to eventually permanently change it’s colour.

This way of thinking is very in line with the concept of perseverance. Perseverance is the key attribute needed to achieve anything complex and difficult whether is be in learning, music, art or sport. Constant perseverance inevitably leads to growth, only the speed of progress is unknown. By default, even if the amount of black seeping into my belt is miniscule, it is still more than the day before, or the month before, or six months before when my belt was blue, changing to red.

This mindset is comforting and motivating. Every time I practice I am rewarded with the mental image of my belt colour changing. I feel satisfied that I have changed my state, I have made progress, I have achieved.

Regardless of when I actually take the next test and mark a milestone on my journey, the journey itself continues.


  1. I love this – its just made me realise that I have always thought about success as the final step in achievement – the belt – and not acknowledged the progress made every single day. Really nicely put. I’ve shared this with my whole team at work as I think its a lesson we could all learn. Thanks!


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