The minutes ticked on as I sat outside of the principal’s office, waiting for someone to ask me why I was there. I was prepared for the question; I had, in fact, placed a bookmark into my worn Korean-English dictionary and marked the page where I’d written my answer in careful letters.

Hello, my name is Tae Yun Kim. I want to teach your students martial arts.

But no one had asked. Every afternoon for the last several weeks, I had taken a seat and waited for an invitation to speak, to no avail. At just over twenty, I was tiny and thin — at a glance, I almost looked like one of the students walking through the schools’ halls. But aside from a few odd glances, no one spoke to me. Yet, day in and out, I returned with my dictionary in hand, preparing for the day that someone would invite me inside. 

It took a month. Finally, a curious administrator asked me what I was doing, and I finally had a chance to explain.

The principal was skeptical, at first. He told me that the school couldn’t pay me, that they didn’t want students to hurt themselves, that there was no martial arts course in place.

“That’s okay,” I told him, “I’ll volunteer, and martial arts will teach your students discipline.”

After some time, he agreed.

Persistence, I’ve learned, is often the key to success. After the first few days of waiting, some might have given up or assumed the answer was no — but because I committed myself, I was able to achieve both acceptance and opportunities beyond measure.

Having the chance to teach brought me joy, because all I wanted to do was share my skills in martial arts. Back then, I was barely into my twenties and had just made the journey from my village in rural Korea to Vermont. Teaching was my dream — and I had struggled for years to study martial arts, facing abuse in a profoundly repressive patriarchal culture. I’d become Korea’s very first female grandmaster but was rejected as a teacher because of my gender. I wanted to teach, as I had been taught, and help others break free of their fears and circumstances — I just needed the chance.

That day, in that office, was my chance. It’s been decades since that day, but I still remember it. Since then, I’ve moved on to establish my own school, hundreds of miles away. I’ve taught thousands of students, built a tech company, and risen far above where my elders thought I would — all because of persistence.

 

Here’s what I’ve learned over the years.

 If You Don’t Ask, You Guarantee Rejection

Many people abide by unnecessarily strict rules, so boxed in by their fears of seeming impolite or overly forward that they wall themselves off from opportunities. Another person might have been intimidated or embarrassed by the idea of sitting outside of a principal’s office for a month — but taking a risk on that embarrassment helped me make an enormous step forward in my career. I don’t regret it, and I wouldn’t even if the answer was a firm rejection.

You are only ever guaranteed to fail if you refuse to try in the first place. The worst that someone can say when you pursue an opportunity is “no” — and even then, you may be able to make connections or find information that will help you achieve your goals another way.

  Don’t let fear keep you from pursuing your dreams.

 

Rejection Isn’t Always Permanent — Or Even Negative.

When I landed in Vermont, I had just $300 to my name and was living in a trailer park. There, it didn’t matter what I’d given to become a martial arts Grandmaster, or even that I was one. My only career option was to clean toilets for money. Some might have seen those circumstances as a low point, or become discouraged.

I’ll be honest — there were times that it was terrible. Some nights, I had little but bone broth to eat. But I viewed each hard night as a stepping stone for something greater. I was being paid to scrub toilets, which constituted a significant step up from doing it for free for family members. It was honorable work, and I knew that it would give me the financial platform I needed to move onto my next success.

Persistence doesn’t always mean reaching for your furthest goal after a few days — or even months — of effort. Instead, it means being thankful for small steps and maintaining a determined spirit against adversity.

Harsh Words Should Motivate, Not Deter, You

It wasn’t always easy being a Korean woman in 1960s America. Back in my village, I had been reviled for being female and uninterested in gender norms. In America, I was rejected for the color of my skin, my broken English, my poverty, and my gender. It was hard; I was constantly demeaned, faced slurs, and even risked physical abuse. When I finally scraped together the money to rent studio space for a martial arts school, arsonists burned it to the ground.

Each setback was demoralizing and frustrating; however, I knew that I had to reset my perspective. So, after someone demeaned me or my dreams, I would respond — “Okay, I see you. You motivate me. I will prove you wrong.”

And I did.

There are always going to be people who step on your dreams. You’ll hear it from your competitors, enemies, friends, family. Even well-meant advice can be hurtful. You can be put down, made to think that you won’t accomplish anything — but you need to bear through it. Let criticism inform and motivate your efforts, not crush them.

Persistence is key. 

Here is an excerpt from my book, SEVEN STEPS TO INNER POWER, where I discuss how to ask for insight and direction:   Tae Yun Kim

When you are experiencing a conflict between your mind and emotions, you can turn to your Silent Master Consciousness. It operates over both your conscious and subconscious mind:  "Your Silent Master is completely aware, infinitely Intelligent and ready to give you all the insight, information, and direction you need to fulfill your dreams, ambitions, and goals."
 Tae Yun Kim
You can affirm that you and your Silent Master are one. Then, by simply knowing you have this unlimited awareness and intelligence available to you, you can ask for information regarding your obstacle, whatever it may be.  Asking is as simple as mentally posing the question to yourself and expecting the answer to come into your conscious awareness. However long or short a time it takes, the answer will surely come. You may be led to people, books, or situations that will ultimately assist you, and you will get your answer.
 
Tae Yun Kim
Your real self already knows its freedom from mental and emotional limitations. Therefore, you can insist on experiencing the feelings of your real self. These are always positive feelings that you can claim as your own.  In addition, you can consciously strive to entertain thoughts that bring you the most positive feelings.
 Tae Yun Kim

There is a good reason why positive emotions such as joy, optimism, love, compassion, affection, hope, and gratitude help you achieve your goals. They bring forth the presence of your Silent Master and therefore have creative power.  A positive mental attitude simply means that you are free from conflicting thoughts and emotions. You feel emotions of joy, peace, and confidence because you expect success. You feel strong because you realize that your real self has power, and you have removed (or are removing) all negative thoughts and emotions that could obstruct your manifestation.

 

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Here is an excerpt from my book, SEVEN STEPS TO INNER POWER, where I discuss the topic of Mistakes.

Mistakes Are Your Feedback System

Tae Yun Kim

The second principle of mental conduct is to learn from your mistakes.  In the preceding section, I talked about how we are constantly evaluating ourselves as if we are onstage and how we tend to hide our weaknesses to put ourselves in a better light, thereby hoping to give ourselves a higher performance rating. For the same reason, we tend to hide our mistakes. Just as we think a good performer shouldn't be weak, we think a good performer shouldn't make mistakes. So when we do make a mistake, we believe that the more quickly we get it out of sight and move on, the better. Think about it for a moment. When we have made a mistake, one of the things we immediately do is try to cover it up, make excuses for it, or justify it.  We’ll do almost anything to get away from it rather than look long and hard at it.

What we don't realize is that mistakes are part of a natural feedback system when we are learning a task or accomplishing a goal. That’s all.

Imagine a gymnastics student learning to do a back flip for the first time. As he strives to imitate the movement as best he can, the teacher tells him two things: what he did correctly, and what he did incorrectly. That is called positive and negative feedback. The positive feedback describes his right action, and the negative feedback describes his mistakes. Can you see how knowledge of mistakes is as important in the learning process as knowledge of right actions? When you know what is not correct, you can then consciously strive to avoid the mistake and duplicate the right action. Precise knowledge of correct and incorrect, then, forms the basis of our conscious choices and actions, and that speeds up the learning process.

Tae Yun Kim

Now imagine a person striving to get promoted in her workplace. Perhaps she calls attention to herself by bragging and showing off.  To make herself look better, she calls attention to deficiencies in coworkers. After a while, she is fired instead of promoted. Did she make a mistake? Absolutely. She must now regard that mistake as feedback on what not to do to get a promotion. She still has to learn what she needs to do, of course, and may make more mistakes in the process of finding the right action to take.

 

The key is to keep going. She must not let her mistakes be excuses for giving up or allow her self-condemnation to paralyze her future actions. If her goal is worth achieving, she must be willing to persist through every form of failure, always regarding it as a learning experience, as feedback, until she hits upon the right action for success.

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Here is an excerpt from my book, The Silent Master: Awakening the Power Within:

Food is also created from consciousness like everything else. Since your body is the temple of your Silent Master consciousness, give it the loving food and exercise that expresses your intent to be pure, real, and whole.

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Here is an excerpt from my book, The Silent Master: Awakening the Power Within:

Discipline of the body works to discipline the mind.  Discipline your mind and you strengthen your body.

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Here is an excerpt from my book, The Silent Master: Awakening the Power Within:

Your Body Deserves Respect
Your body is the most elegant creation you possess. Your body is the embodiment of ideas in your Silent Master consciousness. Just as you learn to use your mind properly, “think of how important it is, then, to use and care for this body with the same respect and holiness you accord to your spiritual consciousness. How? Just as you properly use and exercise your thought so you should properly exercise your body. You've begun to learn that there is much more you can do with your mind; don't you think there is much more you can do with your body?

 

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Here is an excerpt from my book, The Silent Master: Awakening the Power Within:

Since your body and mind are connected, you can use physical exercise to help purify your mind. Remember, when you purify your mind and body, you increase your energy. And you purify your mind and body by doing everything you can do to remove limitation. Because body and mind are one, when you overcome physical limitation, you simultaneously overcome mental limitation.

 

Other Information:

Quotes-GoodreadsJung SuWon Blog  Woman’s Summit speaker, Dojo Review, Unofficial Food Blog

Here is an excerpt from my book, The Silent Master: Awakening the Power Within:

MEDITAITON

In a quiet place where you can be alone, light a candle. As the light burns, allow yourself to feel blended with the flame, consciously knowing that as your perception unites with the flame, you simultaneously become one with the light of your own inner being. This act of lighting the candle is like the beginning of creation. You are saying: "Let there be light in my life." You allow your mind to focus only on the flame in order to quiet your mind and to still any restless thoughts and feelings that may try to distract you. The more your mind becomes still, calm, and undistracted, the more you become open to receiving the beautiful, clear impressions of your Silent Master.

Take as much or as little time with this meditation as you wish.

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Here is an excerpt from my book, The Silent Master: Awakening the Power Within:

Candle Meditation

Here is a visual meditation I use to open my awareness to my spiritual self. The candle and special rituals with fire or light have been used by mankind for this purpose for thousands of years. Light has special mystical significance to our inner being. It's not by accident that candles are lighted to show respect at special occasions or extraordinary events, or to show honor for revered persons, or to deliver a special message as protesters do when they hold lighted candles in a march, or to add significance to certain religious ceremonies. Intuitively, we know our inner being is light, and the candle helps us turn our attention to our spiritual being, especially when we need help above and beyond our material efforts. The flame reminds us of our pure being the clarity, warmth, life and love that burns in our Silent Master consciousness.

 

(to be continued...)

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