“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

Every week, someone tells me they wish they’d started training sooner. Often, they wish they could find a way to get someone else to start eating right and exercising, too.

But until someone’s really ready, it’s pretty hard. There are so many demands on our time, with so many outside pressures, that until you really want it, you’re probably just spinning your wheels.

This applies to a lot of different things. I’ve seen it play out in my faith, my family, my education, and all the different stages of my career. It’s been evident in others too. You can’t really make a change until you’re really ready to make the change.

Which brings me to an ancient Buddhist proverb you might have heard before: “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” Now before we go any further, I haven’t gone off the deep end. I’m not going “all Eastern” on you.

I’m still a Christian and even lead worship music twice a week at our home church. But from time to time, my martial arts background helps me see things.

In ancient times, many martial artists were also Buddhist monks. As they grew in skill in the one area, they also grew in the other. Usually, by the time they’d acquired great proficiency, they’d also acquired great wisdom. So there’s a lot of truth in a simple sentence like “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

Back in those days, someone would have a great desire to learn a martial art. They’d often travel long distances to train with renowned masters (I actually did this myself, choosing Indiana State University so I could train with my instructor, Chief Master Phillip S. Minton).

But sometimes, they found their master close to where they are, just like in the movie “Karate Kid.” In that story, a young teen named Daniel is getting into trouble and being picked on. He finds help in an unlikely source, a local Okinawan gardener who doesn’t look like a martial arts master. But Daniel-san learns that Mr. Miyagi is more than just a gardener. He’s a karate master who helps him change his life.

This mentoring concept is really true in all disciplines. Name any successful person, and they’ll tell you about someone who encouraged or helped them along the way.

It’s also true in weight loss and exercise. There are tons of diet and exercise plans out there, many of them good. I’m convinced it really doesn’t matter which one you do. What really matters is that you’re ready to do it, and that you stick to it.

The key is being ready. Really ready. Because when you’re really ready, the right plan will finally appear, and so will the teacher. Maybe even your own Mr. Miyagi.

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