Coming from a generation and environment that at times demanded compliance, it’s understandable how some people act when they move into the position of power. Many grew up in a culture that demanded respect for your elders. Martial arts tradition always centered around respecting your sensei.
Now that you’re in that role, how are you going to uphold the ideals of tradition? Will you create an environment based on love or one steeped in fear? Though it may seem simplistic, those truly are your two choices.
For me, the answer was always a supportive, encouraging environment based on love. Sounds kind of soft, right? Once again, we sometimes confuse context (how we communicate) with content (the techniques that are taught). I believe that when trust is high and support is strong, you can get more out of a person’s performance with sincere encouragement than belittling or demeaning them. And while everyone is, of course, different, what would you prefer? Someone yelling at you or encouraging you?
As I think of my team of teachers and support staff, I have gratitude in my heart
for their commitment, day in and day out, to the ideals our organization stands for. At the end of each of our staff meetings, workouts, classes or one-on-one meetings, I end with two words, “Thank you.”
I need to remember to express appreciation for their career commitment. Without it, they cannot realize their potential and neither can I.
For the students, I consistently thank them for the dedication to their training and for the support they show their classmates and instructors. I remember that each is working towards a high standard they’re striving to set. Saying “Thank you” provides me one more opportunity to remind them how important I believe their commitment is. I want them to leave feeling appreciated and eager to return for their next training class.
For the parents and or spouses of our students, if they aren’t already training I will often say, “Thank you” to them for too their continued dedication and support.
In a world continually speeding up and full of demands, I wonder how many times they are thanked for their support of a family member. If you’re a parent, you know all to well that, at times, the decisions that are made for the long-term betterment of your child are not always met with immediate praise and gratitude.
As a student of the martial arts, I find it difficult to walk off the mat from a person who just spent time helping me to develop my skills without acknowledging their patience and commitment. They just helped me be the best martial artist I can be! I think this also reminds them of the importance of their role in my life.
Two simple words, “Thank you,” spoken sincerely, can have such a positive impact. I would like to thank all of the people in my life who have set this continual example for me. And in the spirit of giving thanks, I would also like to thank the people in my life who, over the years, didn’t share a grateful approach. Sometimes, we can learn just as much from the absence as we can from the presence of something.
So, what example do you want to set? How do you want to be thought of? What do you want your team, students, parents and martial arts teachers to feel from your presence?
You are in the unique position of being able to mold this reality within your life. Choose carefully, because, as instructors, we all know actions are caught before they are taught.
Wishing all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving!
Chris Rappold can be reached for questions or comments at [email protected]
Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.
Fill in your information below and we'll send you new blog content when it's released.