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Last night I was teaching my normal kid's class in a small gym not far from my home. Sometime during the class, there was a girl who looked at me with an "amazed" look & said "Your belt is black!!!". To her I responded "Yep, several times over" & walked toward her.
Now... let me stop here to clarify things. First it's not a belt, but a silk sash with a red tassel on the ends. It was my teacher's & he gave it to me when he retired, unfortunately too recently in my book. Now, the fact it's black with a red tassel means exactly... nothing. It just so happens it's the colors of his school. His was black & red. We as students wore red sashes with black tassels. This was simply discern to the public, who was the teacher & who wasn't. In that vein of thought, in traditional Chinese martial arts, there are no "belts" to signify rank or anything like that. That is originally a Japanese creation by Kano Jigoro, founder of Judo.
Now it has been run marvelously amok by the Western mind & sense of need for visual accomplishment, especially with parents & their kids in a class. As I previously stated, we wore sashes the colors of the school. I knew who the students senior to me were & the students junior to me as well. We ALL knew who the teacher was immediately on walking in the school on the first day.
When I was "promoted" to a teacher's level, it was over the phone with my teacher. It was him making sure my students addressed me appropriately. I thought to myself after the call ... "I made it!!". A goal was reached & a new level to work on & at.
But now... who was that goal for? Me? My students? My peers?
Back to last night... As I walked toward I started untying my sash. I wrapped it about 3 times around her waist & tied it off. I looked at her half grinning & said "Now you're a black sash too!! Get back to working on your kicks..." and left the sash on her for the rest of the class. After I dismissed the class for the evening & she came of to return my sash, I asked if it made a difference & helped her learn any faster or better. She grinned & said no. She left with a grin & the other kids were giggling at her for wearing my sash.
Those "goals" we all set... are they truly for ourselves or are they subconsciously for everybody else around us to see us "reach a level".
Achieved goals are for everybody else. Goals are for people to view your progress. Your own personal progress should be just simply continue the forward progress in a given area. As an example, you achieve a PhD in a field. That PhD says you have reached a level in "X" to the public. To you that means you have continued on a road that you intended to go down anyway. You may take pride in knowing you have achieved it & rightfully so along with professional recognition & reward, but truly who notices?
Goals are great. Levels are great. Keep your self in check & keep going own that path. Your reward is personal success in continuing the journey. The people around you benefit from your knowledge & experience. Encourage them down your path, guide them on the way, enjoy watching them grow as you once did, now as a mentor rather than novice.
Tie your black belt & move along. It makes it easy for everybody else.