Leadership Training--Module 4--Black Belt Attitude
Black Belt Attitude has little to do with being a Black Belt. More appropriately, it describes the attitudes that Martial Arts training develops. The benefits of these attitudes carry over into every aspect of our daily lives. The following are the five traits of Black Belt Attitude. How do you stack up?

1. Happy but not satisfied.

There is an old Zen proverb that says: before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water—after enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. Interpreted it could mean to have a goal, to be constantly striving; but don’t concentrate so much on the goal that you forget the path.

A Martial Artist strives to master complex body movements. We know many Martial Arts Masters who are happy with their progress and improvement. We have yet to meet a Martial Arts Master who is satisfied with his/her present skill level. You see, with the awareness of improvements comes not only a sense of enjoyment, but an awareness of other areas to be improved. This process continues, as far as we know, forever. The person who finds ways to enjoy the process will strive further and become closer to perfection. Thus, perfection is not so much a result as it is a process. When we become satisfied with the result, the process stops. In essence, being satisfied is almost the same as saying “good enough.”

2. Compare yourself, not with others, but with your own potential.

Comparison of self to others makes one feel either incompetent or over confident. Not every Black Belt is equal in skill. In fact, all students are dissimilar in skill level. Although there is a certain level of skill required to progress to a new rank, everyone has different strengths and weaknesses.

Comparing yourself to your potential helps you to set realistic goals and not to expect too much or demand too little from your training. Therefore, comparison of self to our potential is the only comparison that generates reliable feedback.

3. Keeping emotions in balance.

As the saying goes: “Lose control of your emotions in a fight and your opponent has an ally!” Every emotion has an appropriate time and place. There is a time to be stern and a time to be compassionate. If we become very emotional, or if we mix these times and places up, we lose our ability to act appropriately. If, however, we are able to respond with the appropriate emotion, at the appropriate time, with the appropriate intensity, then we will have the best possible experience.

During training, the Martial Artist experiences many emotions on the path toward Black Belt. Learning to recognize our emotions and face our fears is only one portion of Martial Arts training.

Emotions are our allies if they are channeled in constructive ways. They are the driving force in the accomplishment of all worth tasks.

4. Developing self-discipline.

A disciplined person is a person who knows what to do and then does it. Someone without self-discipline knows what they should do, but just doesn’t get around to doing it.

Discipline, like a muscle, is developed with use. By training in Martial Arts, the student is encouraged to work through difficult movements. As students gradually progress up the belt ranks, they develop the ability to push themselves, while maintaining their focus and concentration, and knowing that this is what it takes to become proficient.

5. When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.

The philosophies taught in Martial Arts require students to look for the good in every situation, and then make the most out of it. While training in the Martial Arts, everyone experiences occasional setback, i.e. busy schedules, difficult maneuvers, sore muscles, etc. Instead of saying, “Why is this happening to me?” they say “What is good about this, and how can it benefit me?” With this attitude, everything becomes a learning experience, and we are able to cope with the day-to-day challenges that life rewards us with.
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