leading, following or getting out of the way

We ‘learn’ (or more importantly develop the behavioral patterns) of leading, following or getting out of the way from the way we live all the details of our lives. Sometimes we have to unlearn this habit or learn discretion so that we make good initiative decisions.

Unfortunately, I think that as a modern trend, ‘cooperation’ has turned people into followers instead of ‘team players.’ I see it in my son at times when he talks about gym class or even music. “Second violins are just as important as first violins, says Mrs. XYZ” is his response when I tell him that being promoted to first violin is a sign of improvement and that it is okay to strive for personal best…..

Second violins ARE as important to the whole as first violins BUT, generally speaking, first violins are FIRST because they are better players.

I have never really been the wall flower in a group and at times that has meant that my mistakes or failed attempts have been very obvious and noticeable, but I have LEARNED from those mistakes – in and out of martial arts. I took those risks knowing that there was a risk…and learned that there is a price to acting, but a larger ones usually (life long regret at the very least) if you don’t act.

I think as instructors and parents, it is sooo important to do more than pay lip service to the idea that people can have “good initiative” but may have exercised “poor judgement” and give people, students and ourselves room to screw up but learn from that. When we were in the Bos, I use to tell my squad that it wasn’t the mistakes that we made that defined our character but how we dealt with them afterwards. On the positive, be accountable for yourself, learn from it, identify what needs to be corrected and move on. On the negative, deny, deflect and lay blame/cut someone else down to make yourself feel better and you’ll just do it all over again later on.

Though I don’t think that one automatically leads to the other, I do think that daily practice of moral/character and leadership habits in a moral courage way can make physical courage/crisis leadership habits easier to ‘learn.’

-Paul Martin

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