Martial Arts Teacher, Master, School Owner, Here’s Some Advice You Should Heed:

This is, of course, a piece about thinking. Why thinking? Because when you are thinking clearly, everything changes. What you get changes. What you produce changes. What you want, changes.

OK, so here’s to thinking (my opinions, of course):

The measure of a great teacher is what his 24 year old staff member read last week.

The measure of a great master teacher of the martial arts is found in what her staff added to their project portfolios in the last 30, 60, or 90 days.

The measure of a great teacher is in the mission statement, the statement of intent, the drive, ambition, and motivation behind the work of the teacher directly underneath her –and the teacher below that teacher.

The measure of a great teacher, leader, and master can be found in the blog post or video made within the last 4 weeks by one or more of the students this great teacher has had under his or her wing.

I like to imagine that I can find out what a teacher is made of, by looking at what his next -in-command does with his time. What has she produced? Who is she helping? Who are his heroes? Why is he doing this work? What are his or her goals?

Am I a great teacher? Is Tom Callos a Master Teacher?

My abilities can only be gauged by what you do, in and for the world. I am only as good as what you have read in the last year. Who you consider to be your teachers. What your mission is. How you help others.

Everything I do, all my personal accomplishments, all of my motivation, what I read, who I reach out to, and why I do this work, must be a direct connection to my teacher’s influence on me. In one way of thinking, his work is only as good as my work.

The only way I can do my best work –and the only measure of my value and skill, is your work, mission, purpose, and accomplishments. Every single ounce of my energy is focused on helping you elevate the quality of your thinking, work, and influence, as this is the only measure of my own success.

What This Might Translate Into, As An Action Plan:

  • Pay attention to what your team reads. Seek to offer them the gift of reading books and other material that gives them a perspective on what is –and/or is not –important in the world.
  • Pay attention to who your team sees as heroes. Most likely, this area is lacking –and in that it’s lacking, most young people are measuring themselves up against media personalities and people-images manufactured to sell products. Assailants aren’t nearly as dangerous as ignorance.
  • Look at your own practice. Who do you read, listen to, pay attention to, and what do you use your time to do? What do you write? What do you make? Who do you help? If you’re texting endlessly, playing video games, working too much (and achieving so little), or otherwise wasting your precious time, and/or hanging out with people who do nothing for others, how can you ask others to do what they have to do to represent wisdom?
  • And if you have a 24 year old (or any age) staff member, teaching on your school’s floor who isn’t seeking to be a living inspiration, at “level 10” for his or her students, then you have a teacher on the floor who isn’t going to ask that of his or her students. What to do? Introduce your team to the best and brightest and most noble –DAILY (like they eat and sleep). You don’t become a true master by doing occasional training. To achieve mastery that is more than a patch reading “MASTER” put on the sleeve of a uniform, you would do well to find real masters, in any and every field, and study what they do, why they do it, and what makes their lives stand out as examples to others.

The message? It’s not about you. Not about what you write, what you donate time to, what you’ve made, what you’ve accomplished, or what YOU are capable of.

We’ll find out how good you are by what your staff members do. If you allow them to do little or nothing –and don’t hold them accountable to the highest ambitions and effort, then you have employees, not students.

If you’ve lost your ability to inspire them to be something more than “workers,” then your role has gone from “Master Teacher” to an Employer, which is not uncommon, but as different as a gravedigger and an architect.