What’s The Condition of Your Blade?

2 Jul

At one point I operated two separate Taekwondo studio locations myself. Certainly not all by myself; I had a number of black belts who would assist as they were able and also cover classes in my absence. That was important because I had one overlapping class night and could not be in two places at the same time.

I ended up with the two locations — one my own original location and one my instructor’s, which he passed on to me — for two reasons. First, I hoped to ensure that both communities would have the opportunity to train in Taekwondo into the future. Second, I hoped to earn some semblance of livelihood through Taekwondo instruction and, between the two locations, I felt that might be possible.

As soon as one enters the realm of traditional martial arts studio operations there are lease commitments, overhead costs, facility maintenance needs, and constraints of operating as a Taekwondo academy, versus becoming a school-or-gym-of-all-trades facility. Money becomes important.

Further, wanting to earn even a modest living teaching martial arts means that, well, money becomes important.

I believe I did a good job of focusing first on school and students, and second on money. To some degree, that might have been a factor in eventually ending up with neither school location and simplifying my operations to a more basic model (well, that, and leases lost due to other area business expansions needs). I recall often asking myself when making certain operating and instructional decisions, “Is this about the students or is this about money?” and hoping that I was finding the right place.

There’s the rub: I wonder if at times I might not have really known the basis upon which I was making a decision. A second rub is that in not being clear, I also was probably less effective in regards to both concerns, students and money.

It’s completely possible in life to think and believe that we are acting according to one motivation when we are actually acting according to another. To be honest with both ourselves and others as to our real motivations requires constant self-monitoring and analysis. We should struggle, question and challenge ourselves in rigorous self-review and then hope we are pure in our intentions and focused in our actions. Without such self-review, we can unwillingly become misdirected, misinterpreted, or disingenuous, as well as less effective in out implementation and results.

There certainly are people that overtly seek to pull the wool over others’ eyes at different times or in different ways. But even when we fool ourselves we then are, I think, also fooling others. I’m talking about, for instance, when someone tells themselves that they are making certain decisions regarding staff roles because they believe that those decisions are in the best interest of operations, or of all employees, when, in fact, the prime motivator is supporting their own importance, influence, image or security.

My last blog entry explored certain aspects of integrity. What I offer here speaks to other aspects: an integrity of self in regards to an honest integration of thoughts, feelings, words and actions. It is a pureness of heart, as well as a focus of intentions. When our heart is muddled or our intention and action is not clear or focused, we can easily compromise both ourselves and our results. We then are, on some levels, also misleading or lying to others.

Self-review is important. It keeps us honest and properly focused. Keen and sharp. I think another tool at our disposal is other people, whether mentors and coaches, people on our teams, or people in our social, friendship and family circles. We can tap into their thoughts, feelings, insights and challenges to help us be honest, pure, clear, focused. Keen and sharp.

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17). If we are to remain true we minimally need to employ our own sharpening steel. Even better, others can help us in the task of maintaining the condition of our blade.

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