I guess I abandoned my college education when I chose a career path. I studied psychology and music in college, and now I work as a personal trainer and a martial arts instructor. This big change wasn't accidental, and it definitely was not to pursue fame and riches.
When I started teaching kung fu, I approached it as if mastering kung fu were the destination. Eventually I realized it was not the destination, but the vehicle used to get to the destination. This change of perspective was a major point in my life. No longer was I teaching so that my students would get the martial art right, but so that the art could help them get themselves right. The goal was no longer to master a martial art, but to master the self through martial arts study.
I realized that I am at my best when I am on a mission. I believe that I am here for a purpose, I believe you are too, and everyone else as well, some of us just don't know it yet.
I started looking at needs and how I could fill them. Sure I could teach someone how to break an attacker's arm, but what about teaching them to never be in a situation in which they would need to break someone's arm? It is like the difference between heart surgery after a heart attack, and teaching fitness and diet so that one may never need the heart surgery.
I came to this thought. The things people need that I can help them practice are different than the obvious things we practice in martial arts. The things I really needed to be teaching were self esteem, self efficacy, physical health and fitness, good eating habits, compassion for others, compassion for the self, and the list could go on and on.
I started prodding around looking for the right path for me to teach these things, trying to figure out where I fit within this new perspective I had. I decided that through teaching kung fu and fitness, I could reach down to the core lessons that I really think are important.
Start at the center, improve the self, then work outward. By teaching physical fitness, or kung fu, the body is strengthened, and the lessons learned physically can be applied to the mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of self care. As a person gains ability and confidence, the ripples they make start to spread out to others. They set an example and perhaps others will follow. It extends out to friends and family, then into the community, and outward into the world.
First I lit a candle to light my own way. A few followed me. This was good.
I learned I needed to allow people to use my candle to light their own. More light, more leaders, more people could find a path. This was better.
So light a candle and pass it on.