“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Remember that question from your younger days? Adults seem almost programmed to ask it, don’t they? Maybe you remember asking that same question to your own or another’s child recently. Remember?
And – do you remember any of your own answers to that question? I know it probably changed many times throughout the process of “growing up” but can you remember some of the answers?
I remember some of mine: policeman, fireman, architect, lawyer. I’m sure there were more but can’t remember too many at this point. What I do remember is the feeling that went along with the decision of choosing one or another. It was a feeling of being in a position of importance. To be able to help others in need or to be looked upon with respect and admiration because I created something really great.
I didn’t know it then but I was expressing the drive to be a leader. Maybe not the ‘top’ leader like a general or the president but a leader who made things happen in the world. I wanted to be someone who lead the way, not followed. Many people would say that I, and many greater men and women before me were born or destined to be leaders – as though fate had somehow selected us at birth to be who we are today. I know that many believe that leaders are born, but I can assure you that leaders are made.
Contrary to popular belief, birth has nothing to do with being a leader. However, learning to develop the traits of confidence, compassion, respect, and many more, do. Having a vision and the ability to communicate that vision to others – setting down a workable plan and having the discipline to act upon that plan until the vision, goal or dream has become real in the world – are the signs of a leader.
I believe that whenever we feel the drive to step out of our day-to-day routine – to volunteer time and energy to a local cause like the fire department, Scouts, or other group – and yes, to join a martial arts school – we are seeking to get back to that drive toward leadership.
Everyone, whether secretly or publicly wants to be a leader. Parents want their children to grow up to be leaders – not followers. It’s a natural drive. But, many of us either have not been ‘lucky’ enough to encounter role models in our lives who pointed the way or showed us how, or we did and didn’t recognize the gift presented to us at the time. What if we didn’t overlook the gift hidden in the question? What if we didn’t forget the dreams of the child still there within us?
In the martial arts, the symbol of leadership is the Black Belt. In many arts, like ninjutsu, it ‘s not so much the belt as the rank, skill, or title of authority that tells others that you have more to offer than a physical ability to defend yourself.
The true master is the person who is strong enough to do whatever is necessary. He or she is powerful enough to do real damage but exceeds that ability with the power of choice – the power to choose peace over conflict. And you can see it when they move. You can feel it when you’re near them. You can sense it when they speak.
Unfortunately, many people want to be leaders and many more tell you to take more responsibility (another important trait of a leader) and go after what you want, but, there just aren’t that many who will show you step-by-step, just how to go about doing it like a good martial arts master. I feel especially fortunate in this respect. Fortunate to have encountered teachers, guides and role-models in my own life that were strong and powerful enough to have shared with me the knowledge for taking charge of my life. Knowledge that I can now pass on to my children and students.
So, what about you? Are you living up to your fullest potential? Are you ready to join others just like yourself on the path of the Warrior Leader? Are you ready to stop dreaming and start living?
We’re waiting for you!