From Grand Master Stephen Del Castillo’s Meditations On Mastery To Be Released this month!
A past is like an opinion- we all have one. Some memories are pleasant and some are not. Some memories are victories and some are defeat. Some events built us and others almost broke us. Some of us got bitter and some of us got better. Some repress it, some regret it and some forget it. Some have moved on and some are still living there. The one commonality about everyone’s past is that your past got you where you are today. No matter how good, how bad, how happy or how sad, the sum total of events, experiences and lessons that form our past also work together to form the person that we are today. Rather we accept this as true or not, it still is. The key is to embrace whatever has happened as useful, to grow in and emulate the good and to learn from and diminish the curses of the past. By embracing the realities of our past, we can stand on the foundation built by it as we navigate our present to create our future. Psychologists tell us that our most formative years are from early childhood and through adolescence into early adulthood. There is no denying that the events of our young lives help create who we will be as adults. This is why the next section, on parenting, is so important; there is no denying that as parents we have a huge responsibility to raise a child that the world wants to live with, and a child that wants to live in the world. Having said this, however, I decided to start with our own past- that of you and I, the adult audience of this book. I have noticed in my years of teaching that many of us have not fully resolved issues of our own childhood. I have noticed this in others and I have noticed it in myself. I am working on each; that is my own issues and those of my students. It is from and because of this that I chose to write about this phenomenon in the first few pages of this book.
One of the most common pieces of baggage we often carry from childhood is that of not being good enough. This is where the man or woman in question was never good enough for mom or for dad and, rather they know it or rather only subconsciously, that feeling has followed him or her well into adult life. Even if the person does not realize this, they may subconsciously avoid situations, challenges and/or even opportunities because they don’t want to experience the agony of defeat. Truth is, with or without the excuse of an overly demanding parent, many people fail to realize their full potential for the fear of failure. It will be one of the enemies we will more thoroughly investigate and plan to defeat a little later. Suffice it now to say that fear of failure is insidious and will keep you from being the best you that you are meant to be!
Of course the opposite extreme holds some adults back as well. A child who knew no real standards, structure or discipline may also grow up unable to best negotiate the demands of adult life, especially as pertains to work and other adult responsibilities. In either, or any other, case the first step towards creating the future we want is to come to terms with our past. The relevance of knowing what happened and what it did to us is really only to accept that condition and then deal with it. We should do this in the quickest and most efficient manner possible. If you have it in you, quit cold turkey! That is, accept that the past is the past and the only value for the future is to learn from it. If this is not in you, you may need to get help. It is paramount you deal with your past effectively and sooner rather than later, one way or the other.
So far we have only explored the past of our childhood, by the way; of course there is also the past that occurred more recently. Was it betrayal by a friend or family member, financial failure, business mistakes, death of a loved one or some other catastrophe that is holding you back? Whatever it is, you may feel alone or that nobody else understands. Even more harmful, you may still be blaming others for whatever happened and wherever you are in your life. The first step towards any real and meaningful progress is to accept full and utter responsibility for your life from this moment forward! Hey, I said this book would be helpful, not easy. I am not preaching anything that I don’t practice. I have messed up relationships, screwed up business and dorked up finances as much as anyone I know. In every case, it was my fault. Others may have enticed, aided and abetted or even led but nobody is in charge of my action or my choices. Wrong or right, dark or bright, I have been where I have been because I allowed me to go there! The misguided reader would think this a self-bashing; it is not, but rather empowering! When we accept full responsibility for ALL of our actions and decisions, regardless of any circumstances or excuses, we are in control! Do it now if you never have before! Realize that you and you alone are the author of your story. It is empowering!
There are of course many philosophical, psychological and even theological arguments that we can make on this matter. As a young philosophy major in college I would have wanted to spend time on these; but this is a book about action. While these are my “meditations” on mastery, this book is really meant to be more of a blueprint for mastering your own life and helping others master theirs. Therefore, though we could argue nature versus nurture, destiny versus free will and even what Freud may say about the effects of our childhood on our current actions, these will not help us as much as this- do it now! Learn from the past, live in the present and create the future. These are the three key skills we will develop, or at least explore, in the first section of this book. The first step is to proclaim that you can and will do it. Take a moment to reflect upon the things of your past that you may still be carrying with you. Ask yourself these three key questions:
1. What am I carrying that is hurting me ? Make a conscious decision to drop these. Pray about it and release it. If it is not adding but subtracting, let it go!
2. What am I carrying that is helping me? It is also important to realize those past events that have contributed to who we are and/or are still serving us well and hold onto these. In the case of some, they may even be useful to pass on to our children.
3. What can I learn? The best and highest use of our past is to learn for the future. What mistakes have I made that I don’t want to make again? What specific lessons learned could I derive form these mistakes and apply to my future life. I can honestly tell you that I have invested and learned more from the hard earned lessons of my life than from my MBA. Go learn from yours too!
Self-esteem develops over time.
And if it's low, it can be raised. Here are things parents can do:
Help your child learn to do things. At every age, there are new things for kids to learn. Martial Arts is one of the best sports you can enroll your child because they will be learning all the time while having fun. Learning basics, the proper way to exercise, traditional martial arts kata and self defense are all skills that increase competence. Competence increased confidence and self esteem.
When coaching kids how to do things, show and help them at first. Then let them do what they can, even if they make mistakes. Be sure your child has lots of opportunities to learn, try, and feel proud. Don't make new challenges too easy — or too hard. Holding pads too high for them to reach may seem funny but can also lead them to believe that they are not talented.
Praise your child, but do it wisely. Of course, it's good to praise kids. Your praise is a way to show that you are proud, too. But research shows that some ways of praising kids can actually backfire. At our martial arts school we use a technique called a praise sandwich. We praise effort, make a correction and the praise improvement after the child practices more.
Here's how to do it right:
Avoid over-praising. Praise that doesn't feel earned doesn't ring true. For example, telling a child he kicked almost straight up when he knows he didn't feels hollow and fake. It's better to say, "I know that was a tough class, but we all have off days. I'm proud of you for not giving up." Add a vote of confidence, "Tomorrow, you'll be back on your game."
Praise effort rather than fixed qualities. Avoid focusing praise on results such as doing the best in class or fixed qualities (such as being smart or athletic). This kind of praise can lead kids to avoid challenges that may threaten the good 'reputation' they get praised for most.
Instead, offer most of your praise for effort, progress, and attitude. For example: "You're working hard on that split," or, "You're getting better and better at these combinations," or, "I'm proud of you for practicing and going to classes — you've really stuck with it. This kind of praise encourages kids to put effort into things, work toward goals, and try. When kids do that, they are more likely to succeed.
Be a good role model. When you put effort into everyday tasks (like raking the leaves, making a meal, cleaning up the dishes, or washing the car), you're setting a good example. Your child learns to put effort into doing homework, cleaning up toys, or doing great stances.
Modeling the right attitude counts, too. If you train in martial arts along with your child, get excited about the classes (or at least without grumbling or complaining), you teach your child to do the same.
Ban harsh criticism. The messages kids hear about themselves from others easily translate into how they feel about themselves. Harsh words ("You're so lazy!") are harmful, not motivating. When kids absorb negative messages about themselves, they feel bad about themselves, and act accordingly.
Focus on strengths. Pay attention to what your child does well and enjoys. Make sure your child has opportunities to develop these strengths. Nurturing strengths is better than focusing on weaknesses if you want to help kids feel good about themselves and succeed. All students progress at different rates at different point in their martial arts journey. It’s not a belt race it’s all about becoming a black belt over time not “getting” a black belt
I read the following article this morning and had to share it with you. As you know, I consider the development of Leadership a key element of our mission of empowering lives through martial art. This excellent article on the power of leading by example is a good reminder for all of us that what we do speaks much louder than what we say.
Lieutenant Norman Dike froze in the face of fire. Dike led Easy Company, 506th PIR, 101st Airborne, during the wintery attack on the Nazi-occupied town of Foy, part of the overall Battle of the Bulge during World War II.
He was a replacement officer who’d allegedly been sent down from higher offices to receive some combat experience before he could be promoted. Behind his back, his men, the elite paratroopers later known as the Band of Brothers, dubbed him “Foxhole Norman”—a man who’d rather cower than fight.
During the attack on Foy, with enemy bullets slicing toward them, Dike wrongly positioned himself and his soldiers behind a haystack. There, he and his men sat as defenseless as hunted ducks. If Dike was ever going to achieve his objective, he needed to lead his men to surge forward and liberate the town. He needed to move! But Dike sat, petrified, panicked, already defeated.
From haystack to attack
From high on a hill, Captain Dick Winters, then battalion executive officer, surveyed the debacle. He spun on his heel and spotted the capable Lieutenant Ronald Speirs, leader of Dog Company, who stood poised in reserve. Winters ordered Speirs to run to the haystack, relieve Dike of his command, and lead the men to victory.
Lieutenant Ronald Speirs
Speirs sprinted forward, took control, and rallied the soldiers up from behind the haystack and onward. But before they could fully take the town and succeed, one more of Dike’s messes needed to be cleaned up.
Earlier, Dike had ordered one platoon to circle the town and see if they could flank the enemy. It might have sounded good at first, but it proved a lousy plan. The men were exposed to sniper fire during the run. Plus, without a radio, they couldn’t receive further orders. Sure enough, five E Company soldiers had taken bullets and gone down.
To countermand Dike’s initial order, Speirs ran alone straight through the town, chock full of weaponized Nazi soldiers. At first, miraculously, the Nazis held their fire, thinking perhaps he was a medic. Then the truth became clear. Shocked, their mouths hung open. Why was this one American officer running straight through their midst?! Didn’t he know he was now their number one target?
Shots rang out, right and left. Undaunted, unphased, and focused like a laser, Speirs ran straight to the lone platoon and set them straight. The truly astonishing thing, reported the men who were there, was that after Spiers ran through the highly dangerous town—he turned around and ran straight back to finish the job.
The power of example—for better or worse
When I think of the differences between lieutenants Dike and Spiers, I’m reminded of the adage that more is caught than taught. Overt instruction works to lead people, yet influence makes the strongest impact. The best leaders lead not only by instruction. They lead by example.
Lieutenant Dike wore the uniform of a leader. He certainly instructed his men to do things. But Speirs showed his men how to do things, and in doing so displayed true courage and empowered his men to successfully complete their objective. He kept cool under fire, and as much as he barked out the correct orders to keep moving forward, he effectively led his men by sheer example of his bravery.
Have you ever considered how your actions can speak louder than words? Whether it’s your management on the battlefield, in the workplace, in your volunteer organization, or within your family, your actions help set the tone, establish the mood, and create values and biases within the people you lead.
This realization can cause us to double check our work ethic, attitude, and management style, because both our good and bad habits rub off on others we care about.
Article by Michael Brotherton
And taken from Michael Hyatt Leadership Training