What is the “Real” Secret for Success in Your Life?

By Master David Mitchell
Kim Soo Karate of North Carolina

The true secret to success cannot be found through the application of a tried and true formula. Honestly, the fact that no man can tell another how to reach success has become the ever-brighter reality in my life. I can only express my thoughts of what the secret to success has been in my life, and hope that you can gain a better understanding of how the destination has many paths.

When I was nineteen years old, my dream was to try my best to become a part of the elite Green Berets who were, to me, the best of the best in Vietnam. The Vietnam War was raging as a great inferno. In 1969 I received the rank of Cho Dan in the school of Chang Moo Kwan and felt my chances of becoming a Green Beret were pretty good. However, I knew that the path to achieve my goal as a Green Beret would take an enormous amount of courage and hard work. There would be no “secret” way to obtain success with this dream. I also knew that I wanted to continue in the way of the true traditional martial arts. My dream was and has always been to stay on the right path and train and teach properly. This, for me, was the secret of success for my life.

However, my plans to become a Green Beret changed drastically when I met my wife, Elizabeth, while purchasing a watch for my sisters’ birthday. I wanted to phone her and get aquainted but it took every ounce of courage I had just to come out and say, “Could I call you?” Within three weeks I had dated her several times, fell deeply in love with her, and asked her to marry me. So after seven months of dating, we did marry. It was the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me. Not only am I deeply in love with her after 35 years of marriage but I can look back in time and see that this love opened the door for so much more as we worked together as a team. She did not stand in my way of following my dream: rather she enhanced and encouraged all she knew would help me to continue on my path. There was no secret here…simply unconditional love.

My dream had changed but I was still on the correct path of teaching and training. This is what I wanted to achieve and aspire to. I wanted to help others find their WAY as I had. In 1969 Elizabeth and I found ourselves in Brownsville, Texas where I introduced martial arts to the Rio Grande Valley. There was not a martial arts school within a sixty mile radius at that time. So, I was still following a dream which brought success, not so much as a monetary success but the success I felt deep within my heart I would achieve. Elizabeth always encouraged me to do what I needed to do. To me, this was an unconditional love and I had actually found the true “love of my life”, Elizabeth, and deep within my soul I knew this was meant to be.

In 1973, I achieved a scholarship to the University of Houston to train as a teacher. I wanted to be in Houston so badly because Grandmaster Kim Soo was there. He accepted me as Chang Moo Kwan Cho Dan after giving me a small test and looking over my certificates which were from Seoul, Korea.

I trained hard and, after some time, was allowed to teach in the first Downtown Dojang. For me, this was a tremendous honor.

I noticed that after teaching us forms, sparring, etc., he would sit us down and begin to speak of truths…simple truths that really meant so much to me. These truths…not secrets, were ideas of character development that most people do not stop to realize its’ true meaning. As I sat on that Dojang floor, which to me, was sacred ground, and shall always be, with sweat still pouring out of my body from the immense heat of a Houston evening, my heart fell on every single word this man had to say to us. As I began my 26 mile journey home, I would think deeply about what he had said. His words would stay with me and touch my soul to bring me to an understanding that I had truly found my WAY. There was no secret to the sweat that poured from my body after such training. There were no secrets in the words he had to say. To this very day, I can close my eyes in meditation and go back to the Downtown Dojang and remember his words of great wisdom. I can smell the sweat from all the hard training, feel the cool floor beneath me, hear the large fan to help us through the heat... Grandmaster Kim has always had a profound effect upon my life. These memories of training with the Grandmaster will stay with me through all my days. There is no secret way, my friend, to a life such as this. Hard work and dedication is the road to finding your WAY. I believe, in my heart, Grandmaster wishes this for us all.

When I say “follow your dream”, or “follow your heart”, this entails the idea of setting your own goal. There are no “secret” ways to assist you in your endeavor to find success within your life. For without a goal to obtain I feel as though a person may not be motivated to achieve wonderful things in his lifetime. However, do not become confused with setting goals and dedication. To become a ChaYon-Ryu Cho Dan or Black Belt, one must be dedicated to ChaYon-Ryu. So, you do not set a goal as Black Belt and then quit. This is SangWhal Moo Do or martial arts for your entire life. It is your WAY…your path in this life to find your own success.

A personal goal is a great tool for knowledge. Not only does a goal constitute the creation of an implemented strategy, but also serves as the flint to spark self-motivation. Though there is no secret to accomplishing a goal, one must realize that personal goals are journeys through both success and failure. The road that we travel while we are steadfast in our desire to succeed is more important than the actual destination.

These things I speak of require dedication and loyalty to oneself and to those around him whom he trusts and loves. There is no quick way to be successful in these matters only hard work, sweat, training, and following your WAY or your path in life. Thus the real secret for success in your life shall be revealed unto you.