My son is a brown belt in taekwondo. Once you reach brown belt, one of the requirements during testing is to break a board. Each kid gets three tries to break the board. If you don’t break the board by the third try, you don’t pass your test, and you don’t move on to the next level. You have to wait two months for the next test.
Knowing that the board break would be a challenge, we got a practice board. But every time he practiced, he would flinch at the last second and the board wouldn’t break.
We tried many different techniques to help him break the board.
We coached him on where to aim and how to hit it.
We told him it would hurt less to hit it once super hard than to hit it three times really hard.
We encouraged him to imagine himself in a situation where he had to break the board to save someone from peril.
We told him if he broke the board, he could choose where we’d go for dinner.
We even tried to make him mad to see if he could channel his anger into strength.
We may have even offered him money.
None of it worked.
Then came the test. He broke the board on his second attempt!
I asked him how he was able to break the board at the test, when he had so much trouble at practice.
With all the seriousness that an 11-year-old can muster, he said, “I knew I had to do it.”
You can’t fake urgency.