Black Belt Thinking | Black Belt Revising – free eBook
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Black Belt Revising – free eBook

Know anyone revising for exams?

For November, my eBook Black Belt Revising, 10 Ways To Be Successful In Exams By Revising Like a Black Belt, is free! Just contact me for details.

As a taster here is the first of the 10 Ways:


1 Motivation (and an actor from Harry Potter)

To start revising, you have to be motivated to revise!

Sounds simple? Well, things that are simple are not necessarily easy to do. Sometimes it is hard to motivate ourselves to do things when we would rather be doing something else.

Black Belts know how to keep themselves motivated. After all, achieving Black Belt takes quite a bit of motivation. This first section shows how you can be motivated to be a Black Belt reviser.

And the good news is, you can easily understand what the things are that motivate you. Once you know, you can keep yourself motivated!

Internal, external

One way of looking at motivation is that it is either internal or external. Or even a combination of the two.

Internal motivation is where are doing something for your OWN sake, your own feelings and self-esteem.

Internal motivation is concerned with your self. You want to achieve or perform well in something because you are interested in doing well for you.

Here are some examples of internal motivation. Do any of these apply to you?

You are revising a subject that is of interest to you. By revising this topic, you are gaining more knowledge on a topic that might be very important to you in the future.

You are keeping your options open. By performing to your best in the exam, you will perform well, and then have more choices of what you can do in the future.

You will feel satisfaction and self-respect in knowing you have done your best. Black Belts never do anything 70% or even 95%. They keep things simple, because every time they do anything, they give 100% of their effort.

You feel a sense of progress. You are on a journey (more of this later), and doing well in the exam will keep you on track.

You are learning and condensing information, which could be useful to you in the future.


By knowing you will be performing at your best when you take the exam, revising means you are actively building your self-esteem, helping you to feel really good about yourself. This gives you confidence, both in the subject you are revising, and in life generally.

You are gearing yourself up for future success. By working hard at the not-so-nice parts, you are teaching yourself that in the future you will work hard when you have to, which means you will enjoy more success!

External motivation is where we are motivated by external factors. This is things that will happen OUTSIDE of ourselves, after the exam.

Here are some examples of external motivation. Do any of these apply to you?

You get a good grade

You get praise – from teachers, parents, other pupils

You win an award



Of the two types of motivation, internal motivation is the stronger. This is because internal motivators tend to last longer than external motivators, and internal motivators are yours not somebody else’s. So with internal motivators you feel more in control.

An actor from Harry Potter

I taught an actor from the Harry Potter films karate for several years. He wasn’t one of the main stars, but he appeared as a background actor in two of the films, Harry Potter VI and VIII, and he knew all the main cast. He is developing a career as a professional actor.

After several years of training in karate he went for his Black Belt exam, and he passed first time.

And then he stopped training!

Why? Because he wanted his Black Belt for his acting career, to be able to show to OTHERS that he was a Black Belt. This is external motivation.

It worked. It was right for him. He DID get to be a Black belt in karate, and he still puts this on his acting CV.

So even external motivation, which is generally not thought to be as powerful as internal motivation, can get us to where we want to be.

To, or Away

Another concept you can use to manage our motivation is to know whether you are motivated by going To, or Away From something.

If you are motivated by going To, then you are looking ahead, focusing on having success (getting the grades you want), pleasure (from a good Black Belt performance), and triumph (winning a prize, doing better than perhaps other people thought you would).

If you are motivated by going Away, then you are focusing on avoiding failure (by making sure you pass or get the minimum grade), not having to resit the exam, not failing.

It doesn’t matter whether you are motivated by being motivated To something, or Away from something. They both work. Which one works for you?

Reward yourself

As well as the end performance in the exam, you could also choose to reward yourself for doing some revising. This can be a big help in motivation.

Especially if you can get someone else to also reward you! Is there anyone in your life who you could talk to about this? Who might be happy to reward your revising?

You can have little rewards for every bit of revision you do. So you can reward yourself all the time!

This tactic is used by many successful people in the business world. They know that at times they just have to buckle down and work through something. So they reward themselves along the way, knowing that the big reward is coming when they perform well and win that new client, or get that extra qualification that means they can have a higher salary or a promotion.

Black Belts understand what motivates them, so that they keep on training, learning and developing. Continuously getting better and better.

One Thing You Can DO Now:

Stop right now. Think about what motivates you to revise. Are you motivated by things for you yourself, or for some external recognition? Are you motivated by going To something, or away from something?

Which is the biggest one for you? What is going to most motivate you to revise to do your best, to perform like a Black Belt?

Write it down now.