Today I received my yellow stripe, which is for katas or forms in our dojo. The form for my rank of Sandan, or third degree black belt, is Pyongwon. I got a lot of help from a good friend of mine, John.
Basically he was tough. I've known the form for months, but he treated me like I was just learning it. "No, that's not the correct stance. Look this way when you hit. You have to end up where you started." Etc. So the whole time I listened carefully, and did everything he told me to do. But near the end, I was tired both physically and mentally from his insistent nagging on every tiny detail. At the end of the class, the Master of the dojo had me "spotlight" my form in front of the other black belts. I did exactly what I was taught, while maintaining some creative flair based on my own personal style. I did the best I could, and was about to just get back in line, when the Master surprised me. He just said "You're a striper!" I was surprised. I didn't even know I was doing it to try and get the stripe on my belt. I was focused on doing the best I could, and what I was taught.
I learned that it is good not to focus on the reward that may come, but rather to just focus on doing the right thing because that is a reward. The stripe is just decoration, but I know inside I did an amazing form. I couldn't have cared less if I had gotten a stripe or not. John's teaching methods worked, and I was rewarded both externally and internally. Remember to tend to the little details, friends. And don't spot-focus on materialistic rewards. Do something to make yourself feel good, and make others proud of you and your accomplishments.