The Most Valuable Lessons

 in Bradenton - Ancient Ways Martial Arts Academy


Last night I spoke to my adult class about how, as parents, we need to make sure our kids get 3 primary things from us. 
1. Education – Meaning knowledge and common sense
2. Social Skills – They have got to get along with others and be able to communicate well
3. Character – In the past a person’s character was marked by their grit, gumption, pluck, drive, work ethic and determination. I think an easier definition is: A person’s ability to adapt and overcome life’s challenges.

I spoke to the class about how education is, of course, vital. I think social skills are probably even more so. After all, success is more often dictated by who you know, than what you know. Even Harvard Business school requires it’s graduates to take a course that studies Dale Carnegie’s book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” written in the 1930’s. Even Harvard recognizes that you can’t just know stuff, you also have to know people. But I also stated that above all of that, being a person of character will drive success more easily than anything else.

After the class last night, I had a lady approach me, she is a trial student, but I’ve known her for many years. She told me about her 20 year old son who lives at home, has no driver’s license, no job and has enrolled and quit college two times. He is a talented musician and could easily go into chemistry or medicine too. He was a great student in high school, he is a bit socially awkward but more than anything, he lacks character. He has been bailed out of every problem he’s ever had, and protected from anything that might have been a challenge to him. Mom told me that I was so right, and that she is trying to fix the problem now, but the young man’s dad isn’t backing her play (they are divorced). She is being called “mean” for making the young man pay rent, get and keep a job, and stay in school, among other things.

She told me about how when her daughter was little, she wanted to play softball. They enrolled the girl on a team and mom signed on as the team coach. 3 weeks into the season, the little girl decided she didn’t want to do it anymore. Mom coached the whole season while her daughter sat at home and watched TV. She has real regrets and wants to fix the problem now. More than that, she wants YOU to not make the same mistake.

Character is a difficult trait to develop though. It is gained from one thing: Pain, or surviving pain and painful events. Think about it, the most valuable lessons in our lives are the ones we learned by surviving failures, mistakes, heartache, hardships and traumatic events. That is how we gain character. So, how does a parent insure that their child gains character, without appearing unloving, uncaring or abusive? First, stop protecting them from everything and bailing them out of their problems.

I remember that I wanted my son to be bullied in elementary school, so he could learn to be more compassionate. I was actually pleased when he failed one of his belt exams in martial arts. At first, he wanted to quit. Realizing that wasn’t going to happen, it made him that much more determined to pass, and to never have this experience again. I was actually glad that my daughter struggled with learning certain things, it made her super strong and developed in her, an unstoppable work ethic. I’m pleased and immensely proud of their accomplishments, but none more than the successes that started off as failures.

Obviously, I believe the best way to build character is to enroll them in Martial Arts with no chance of quitting. Make it like school, they get no choice, they must go, no matter what. When the classes get tough or the training gets tedious, just smile and bring them anyway. Remind them that this is not an option, it is requirement. They might fight it for a while, I did as a kid, but if you stand strong and keep bringing them, they will eventually turn it around. I honestly believe that a student who achieves Black Belt, who never fought the desire to quit, hasn’t fully earned their Black Belt. To me, it’s a requirement.

But when a student wants to quit, they need help to get them past it. That help comes from their support team. You are their support team and you have to keep them coming or face the consequences when they are adults. Don’t enable then to become quitters, instead empower them to become people of strong character.



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