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. 

Remember the last time you were worried about something?  You couldn’t stop thinking about it - “Did I lock the front door?” “I know I forgot something, what is it???”  At times, your thoughts would be consumed thinking about it, taking your focus away from what you should have been doing instead of obsessing.

 

 

Then, remember the flood of relief you felt when you turned around to go back home and you discovered that you had locked the door, or when you finally remembered you needed to call your bank about an odd looking charge on your statement.

 

That feeling of relief was the freedom you felt when those worrying thoughts dissipated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In our lives, that feeling of freedom is essential in pursuing our goals with confidence, with minimum distraction, and with our success securely focused in our mind.

 

Now think about how jealousy, anger, depression and other negative emotions ‘rob’ your freedom to do what you want to do.

 

I always tell people - it’s OK to experience negativity.  You need to acknowledge it, then work towards letting it go.  This doesn’t mean you ignore things, it means you don’t let yourself be affected by the negativity.  You rise above it, see things with a satellite view, and then make decisions based on being rational, not being emotional.

 

 

We are bound to experience negativity often - how we react to it determines our freedom.  It’s our own choice.  If you want to work on not reacting emotionally, it takes practice.  First, recognize you have the power to receive negativity and block it from affecting you.  Then practice, practice, practice!  When it comes at you, pause, take a deep breath, even count to 10 if you have to, just don’t let the negativity control you.

Your thoughts create reality. Sure, you say. This is not a new concept. Obviously, we are affected by the constant barrage of  internal and external influences we endure on a daily basis. Marketing companies alone spend hours each day figuring out how to expose us to thoughts that drive us to purchasing their products.

 

 

If thoughts didn’t matter, these ads and their advertisers wouldn’t exist.

That’s why we all need to understand how truly powerful this idea is:  Whatever we think about consciously and subconsciously manifests in our daily life. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In other words, what we focus on grows bigger in our daily lives, and what we ignore grows smaller.

This concept applies to everything, including all the negative, self-limiting, and doubting thoughts that hold us back, as well as the confident, determined, supportive thoughts that propel us into positive action.

While you may give thought to what you eat on a daily basis, making sure it’s healthy and good f or you, do you do the same with your thoughts?

 

 

Remember, it takes vigilance to examine and if necessary, to remove the thoughts that run through our minds. And yet, how successful could anyone be with an inner dialogue that repeats “you can’t do it.”  Ask any successful person and they’ll tell you the same thing: while they may have had that voice in their head, they chose not to listen to it.

Next time you are standing in front of a mirror, take a few minutes to look at yourself.  I mean really look at yourself. While you’re there, quiet your mind and listen to the thoughts that come next.  Don’t be discouraged if you hear nothing, or have trouble quieting your mind. You may even find that you have a hard time looking at yourself.  This is a form of meditation and it takes practice and patience.

Here is an excerpt from my book, SEVEN STEPS TO INNER POWER.  As you read through this, think about what it means to let go of dangerous attitudes and activities that cause us pain and suffering.    

Now let's look at another dimension of sacrifice - letting go of attitudes that block our progress.  Letting go of attitudes is just as essential as letting go of unhealthy activities or saying goodbye to people who hinder our progress.  In fact, unless you let go of certain attitudes, your physical letting go won't last very long.  This concept is related to the inner power step of purity.  When you let go of an attitude that is sabotaging who you want to be, you are also purifying your world of a habit pattern that has kept you hostage to limited thinking and limited living.

   

It's a common misconception that most of our attachments center on objects or people.  The truth is that our attitudes and feelings about objects are more binding than the objects themselves.  For example, we may become attached to an object, person, or situation (even if we complain about it) because we like feeling comfortable, we fear change, and we don't have the courage to take initiative on our own.  Maybe we stay with a domineering boyfriend, girlfriend, or employer, even though doing so is keeping us stuck in a rut.  In cases like these, fear is the real attachment, not the person.

If suddenly those people are removed from our lives but we still have not let go of our fundamental fears and have not developed the strength to stand up for ourselves, we'll just become attached to the next domineering boyfriend or girlfriend or employer that comes along - and continue to complain about them.  That's because the thoughts we keep in our mind rule over us as long as we allow them to stay there, and they continue to produce the same results.

Visit me online at my school, Jung SuWon or on YouTube

Enjoy some of these recent articles published in ParabolaMedium and Silicon Valley Talk

I'm so excited and honored to be this year's Grand Marshal for the 45th anniversary of the LA Korean Festival!  If you are in the area, I would love to meet you!

Here is an excerpt from my book, SEVEN STEPS TO INNER POWER.  As you read through this, think about what it means to be one of a kind.  Does this help to shed any clarity on your life goals?    

Your Silent Master is your real self, your original self.  It expresses itself through your thinking, through true ideas and thoughts in your mind.  It is your eternal Selfhood that exists apart from your brain (which is a sensory processor only) and the personality traits imposed on you from your environment.

I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to live by the truth that you are one of a kind.  As a child in training under my martial arts master, I would be in tears as I told him how my family was treating me - how they were pounding negative messages into my ears every day, telling me I was no good, I was bad luck, I was a tomboy, I was a curse, I was a disaster, I was never going to be happy, I could never be a martial artist and I was crazy to even think like that.

one of a kind tae yun kim

No matter how much I wanted to get angry and fight when I heard those words, my master would say to me: "Just remember: You are one of a kind.  You are not your mother and you are not your grandmother.  Do not let their opinions or judgments or ideas affect who you can be, because you are not them.  You are unique.  Your mother has copied her lifestyle from your grandmother, as she was taught to do.  You say you want to become a practitioner of the martial arts - even a teacher.  No woman has ever done that.  So you need to accept that you are one of a kind and acknowledge it.  You need to believe that's who you are before you can convince anyone else."  He encouraged me to affirm that truth over and over.

Now it is my turn to tell you:  I know who you are. Now you have to know who you are.  You are one of a kind.  You are not just someone's son or daughter, brother or sister, mother or father.  You're not just an employee or manager at such and such a company.  We've all heard about people who lose their job or break up with their boyfriend or girlfriend and then lash out violently at others or even want to commit suicide because they believe their life is now finished.  Have you ever felt that way yourself?  Remember, your job, your relationships, what other people say about you is not who you are.  If someone doesn't appreciate who you are, you are still one of a kind with unlimited opportunity and potential.  No one can take that away from you - unless you allow them to.

Visit me online at my school, Jung SuWon or on YouTube

Enjoy some of these recent articles published in ParabolaMedium and Silicon Valley Talk

I'm so excited and honored to be this year's Grand Marshal for the 45th anniversary of the LA Korean Festival!  If you are in the area, I would love to meet you!

Here is an excerpt from my book, SEVEN STEPS TO INNER POWER.  As you read through this, think about times when you had an intuition and didn't act on it.  Did the intuition turn out to be correct?    

I said earlier that your Silent Master knows when a yin or yang action is called for to create balance.  Yet, how often do we find ourselves making the wrong move, increasing discord rather than eliminating it?  You may even have had moments when you said, "If only I had listened to myself, I wouldn't have done that."  You were probably right.  You may not be aware of it, but your Silent Master speaks to you very quietly at times through the faculty we call intuition.

 

When you have an intuition, it feels like an impulse to say or do something that suddenly pops into your conscious mind.  Generally, an intuition will feel like a right choice and will bring you a sense of serenity or peaceful resolution (even if you may not have wanted to do it.)  It may feel vague, as if it's not really your own thought, but it is.

This inner "voice" is actually your inner knowing.  It is your Silent Master's knowing attempting to penetrate your consciousness with its truth.  It does not necessarily speak softly; it only appears to do so because your surface thoughts and emotions noisily clamor for so much attention.  Clearly, if you could consistently be aware of these leadings from your Silent Master, you could make the right moves at the right time.

How can you develop greater awareness of this supremely intelligent, quiet voice?  Ideally, your awareness should be like a pool of still water.  Light travels easily into still water, enabling you to see right into the water.  However, when the wind blows and the water is agitated or when the water is polluted, you can't see clearly what's in it.  The same is true of our minds.  You can make your mind like a pool of still, clean water, undisturbed by turbulent surface thoughts, free from polluting feelings and emotions, so that the light of your Silent Master can travel easily into your awareness.

 

Visit me online at my school, Jung SuWon or on YouTube

Enjoy some of these recent articles published in ParabolaMedium and Silicon Valley Talk

Here is an excerpt from my book, SEVEN STEPS TO INNER POWER.  As you read through this, think about times when you may have felt critical of others or yourself.  Did holding those feelings help the situation?  

As you become aware of the energy and emotions you want to cleanse from your world, take care not to get caught up criticizing yourself for the trait you want to eliminate.  Please don't get down on yourself for having doubts or being impatient or angry.  The fact that you are noticing these tendencies means that you are doing something - you are engaged in your life.  As I said earlier, look at these weaknesses clinically.

When you are driving down a dusty road on a hot day and your car becomes coated in dust, you don't label it as right or wrong.  You accept that this is something that just happens, and you make a mental note to get the car washed the next time you are in town.  When you're in a car and it starts raining, you notice that your windshield is getting wet and then you turn on your windshield wipers so you can drive safely.  You don't curse the rain and say, "Why is this stupid water getting on my windshield and all over my car?"

It doesn't really matter how you feel about the rain.  Maybe you have been experiencing a severe drought where you live and so you welcome the downpour, or maybe you've had drenching floods lately and you don't want to see another drop of rain.  Regardless of how you feel, you have to deal with what's happening at the moment.  Getting frustrated and bringing in emotions doesn't help.  In order to move forward, you have to stay in balance, be positive, and take appropriate action.

Life is a journey, and in the same way that you experience rough weather at times, so you'll experience fear or doubt or jealousy.  That's okay.  See these attitudes for what they are and, because you know they are holding you back, set about replacing them with confidence in yourself, gratitude for what you have, and excitement to be alive with a new day of opportunity before you.

Visit me online at my school, Jung SuWon or on Vimeo

Enjoy some of these recent articles published in Psychology TodayInspireNation and Parabola

Here is an excerpt from my book, SEVEN STEPS TO INNER POWER.  As you read through this, think about times when you may have felt your Silent Master.

Waiting quietly within you is a presence, a force, a state of consciousness that gives you the power to harmonize and change discordant situations, the power to create and to achieve goals.  It gives you the power to experience peace and joy regardless of the circumstances around you - the power to be who you really are.  In Jung SuWon, we refer to this presence within as the Silent Master or Silent Master Consciousness.

When you tap into the consciousness of the Silent Master within, you begin to take control of your life.  You may have been drifting through life before; now you are driving through life and toward your goals.  You experience a new sense of freedom, creativity, purpose, and peace of mind.  You find yourself glad to be alive every day for the sheer pleasure of experiencing life - of experiencing yourself.

The keys from the art of Jung SuWon that you'll explore here will help you awaken to this powerful presence within and empower you to recognize and express the qualities of your Silent Master in your daily life.  As you open to your true potential in this way, you'll discover more of your beauty, your strength, and your courage.

At the core of the philosophy I teach are six truths about your Silent Master.  I call them "Silent Master images" and you'll understand why when you read the section on visualization, or, as I call it, "future memory."  In essence, these images describe who you truly are and the awesome power you have within you now to shape your life.  As you move through this book, you'll learn much more about these foundational concepts and how to put them into action in your life.  Here I'll simply touch on these truths to give you a brief introduction to them.  For now, think of each one as a seed-thought designed to blossom into a practical understanding of your true being and power as you contemplate "Who am I?"  Give yourself complete freedom and permission to fall in love with who you are and you are becoming.

Visit me online at my school, Jung SuWon or on Vimeo

Enjoy some of these recent articles published in Psychology TodayInspireNation and Parabola

Here is an excerpt from my book, SEVEN STEPS TO INNER POWER, where I discuss the real you waiting to be unleashed:

Moving from a limited sense of self to tapping into the power of your unlimited self does require a change, and change can be frightening.  If you want to live up to your full power and potential, however, you will have to change.  When we've been sleeping in the dark, our eyes are used to the darkness.  So when someone suddenly draws back the curtain and the daylight comes flooding in, don't we pull the covers over our head and moan, "Close that curtain!  You're hurting my eyes!"  The bright light causes discomfort at first, even pain, but that feeling eventually goes away.  In the same way, your limited self may be accustomed to living in comfortable darkness.  If you are willing to experience the initial discomfort that the light brings, you will soon grow accustomed to the brightness and see a whole new world illumined by the light.

As you open to a new way of seeing and being, new opportunities will come.  Yes, challenges will come your way too - challenges within and without.  That is part of life's journey.  Yet, as we learn in the martial arts and as you'll see examples of in this book, you can use a force coming your way to your benefit.  You can learn to ride the wave of those challenges to create greater growth, mastery, and overcoming.  In fact, it is in facing those challenges that you will learn the most about yourself.

The way of the warrior on the path to inner power is to realize who you are in truth and to demonstrate it, a process of evolution that continues throughout your life.  The work of the warrior is joyous and every encounter is an adventure.  As a warrior, you know that the obstacles and limitations you confront are destined to fall because they were never a part of your real self.

No matter what challenges arise, you are never alone.  Your inner strength is waiting for you right now.  Your courage and creativity are waiting for you  Your excitement and dedication and discipline are waiting for you.  All these qualities and more are part of your support team, waiting to be unleashed.  I know you may not be used to feeling that these qualities are a part of you, and you might have some fear about what your life will be like when you step out of your comfort zone.  But I promise you that you will love the sense of freedom, peace, and purpose that comes when you meet who you really are.  Are you ready to experience the real you?

Visit me online at my school, Jung SuWon or on Vimeo

Enjoy some of these recent articles published in Psychology TodayInspireNation and Parabola

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