Sunday, March 16, 2008

It's "who" you are that counts...

I was reading this article on the net about Managing: The Art of the absurd

I truly wish that I had read this article before I was placed into the position of Sensei of a dojo, I believe that the concepts contained in this article would have improved my ability to lead others, and teach immensely. I suggest looking over the article before continuing into the rest of my posting as I will be commenting on how I feel about some of the concepts.

1. In management, as in parenthood, it's not so much what we do as what we are that counts.

This idea suddenly rang a "bell" within my mind as I had always pondered about parenting/teaching, and it's effects on children. Always I have seen how a person's positive strength of character was more important than anything else. I know that one of the most important things that allowed me to even consider training in Martial arts was how strong a character I saw in the behaviour, words, and actions of my first Sensei. "Seek perfection of character" exhorts the first line of the Shotokan Dojo Kun. At first, at least to me, it seemed absurd that a physical activity that focuses on learning the most efficient ways of harming another person's body would center on improving one's inner character. But.. now I have understood how important Character is towards self defense. Someone with a character that needs to build itself up by demeaning, insulting, and stepping on other people will only bring violence upon itself. A Sensei needs to work towards becoming someone that one would want to imitate in character. "Who" the Sensei is would be more important than anything as it would effect how things happen in the dojo.

2. Remember what we might call the "reciprocity rule" of human behavior: over time, people come to share, reciprocally, similar attitudes toward each other.

Wow.. I haven't noticed the link between one's thoughts about a person, and the effect in relationships before reading this section of that article, but it's been proven true in my life experiences. As I look back at what I've learned in the almost past half century, I have seen how my impression of others affected how I treated them, and therefore, how they have treated me back. I know that I have placed my own standards, and expectations as first in my mind as to what is "right", and what is the "wrong" thing to do. I assumed that everyone agreed with me that certain values were important to cultivate. To my shock, I always learned that other people had different values. I wonder, is having personal values a negative thing? It cannot be so, because I have found that my personal values have been the strength that has supported me through the difficult moments of my life. I believe that negative effects happen when I insist that others have to have the same values as myself. I know that this attitude has brought frustration to me, and also in others. I believe that I can absorb, embrace, and live up to those values that I deem worthy as a Karate student/teacher. If others choose to go in the same direction as me, then great, we can travel that path together. If others choose their own path, then I can wish them well, and continue going where I want to go without feeling challenged, or judged.

3. If, in life, paradox is the rule and not the exception, then the popular view of management as a matter of gaining and exercising control is badly in need of correction.

I LIKE this statement! For me, it states that leadership isn't something that can be imposed onto others effectively. Leadership happens when a group of people recognize, and accept that a certain person has the qualities desired for that position. I remember my Internet Sensei Paul telling me this wise advice when I was just an 8th kyu yellow belt. " Do not seek to gain higher placement in the rank line by stepping on others. Instead, train hard, and improve yourself, and one day, you will see, all of the other students will move over, and make room for you to take your place as leader." I actually saw this happen when I went to a Karate camp. I had led the younger beginners class as the lead belt in the line up due to the fact that I was the highest kyu ranked individual present that morning. Then, when the next class filed into place, I thought to myself "Ooo.. I should make room for those higher ranked than I.." I moved over to the middle of the gym floor. To my shock, all of the incoming students lined up to my left so that I became the lead belt of the second class. Sensei Paul's words rang in my head, and I felt a surge of humility fill every inch of me.

I would like to comment on the other statements contained in this Psychology article, and speak about how it echoes in my Martial arts path, but time for me is limited at this moment, and this is all that I can offer today. Perhaps later on I will return to this article, and continue my thoughts.

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