3 Crucial Decisions You Need to Make

from the November/December 2020 issue of MASuccess

Hello, my friends. I hope you all are doing well and finding ways to successfully navigate these difficult times. In this column, I want to talk about three crucial decisions that leaders need to make to survive our current chaos.

I ask that you bear with me. The stories I will use involve airline crashes, and the details are not pleasant. However, all are relevant to the situation that now faces the martial arts community.

In 2015, Maria Murillo, 18, and her 1-year-old survived the crash of a small Cessna airplane in the Colombian jungles. They spent five days on the banks of a river, surviving on coconuts and collected rainwater. When they were found, rescuers were astounded to learn that despite having sustained burns and broken bones, the woman had been able to run from the burning plane while carrying her child.

Bahia Bakari, 14, was the sole survivor of a 2009 crash of an airliner that claimed the lives of 151 people. She spent 13 hours adrift in the Indian Ocean, holding onto wreckage to keep from drowning.

Annette Herfkens, 31, survived a 1992 plane crash in Vietnam that took the lives of everyone aboard, including her fiancé. After dragging herself from the site, she subsisted on whatever sources of water she could find. Despite having a collapsed lung, a displaced jaw and a fractured hip, she remained calm and meditated to stay centered.

In each case, the survivors made crucial decisions that helped them avoid what seemed like inevitable death. Specifically, they made the decision to live, the decision to use whatever resources they could and the decision that their futures mattered. Let's explore each of these.

Decision No. 1: Decide to Live

In each case study, the survivors decided to remove themselves from danger so they could find a path to safety. Murillo's situation was more complicated because she also had to care for her child.

Takeaway: The pandemic presents health risks and economic turmoil. Many businesses have been hurt, and some have closed. Even though you are struggling, you must decide to remove yourself from any mindset or attitude that could cause further harm. If you are fortunate to still have an open business, you must separate yourself from the things that could hurt you and your school. I doubt Murillo and her child would have survived if she had chosen to stay in the wreckage.

Similarly, you have to remove yourself from practices that aren't working and rid yourself of attitudes and beliefs that are keeping you in a bad place mentally and emotionally. If you don't have hope and work from faith, you'll stay in the proverbial wreckage and suffer.

Decision No. 2: Decide to Use Every Possible Resource

It's difficult to imagine clinging to airplane wreckage in the ocean for 13 hours, not knowing if you will receive help. But just as Bakari did, you need to look around and use every resource you can find to keep going.

Takeaway: Use virtual platforms and social media private rooms to their fullest extent. Think about how you can present aspects of your curriculum in a different manner. For example, my dojo, a traditional Japanese jujitsu school, has adopted simple but fun kata that work for us. Students are improving their memories, focus and basics. The parents are happy, and the kids are learning.

Another resource is your former students and parents of current students. Ask them to help promote your school and spread the word about your program. Sometimes simply asking people to introduce you to others can open all kinds of doors. Remember that if you don't ask, you won't get. Unless you ended on bad terms, most former students and parents probably won't mind helping you, especially during these times.

Decision No. 3: Decide That Your Future Matters

Herfkens lost her fiancé and sustained terrible injuries, but she knew her time here was not yet done. She decided that her future mattered. You have to make that same decision. Then you must ask yourself, What activities am I engaged in that will help build my future?

Takeaway: Don't get drawn into social media battles over politics, face masks, vaccines, etc. This, too, is looking out for your future. Is the comment or article you're about to post or share one that will add to or detract from your image as a leader?

This pandemic will subside, and people will remember — as Maya Angelou once noted — how you made them feel. Don't put out something that you cannot take back.

Nguyen "Tom" Griggs is a professional consultant/speaker on subjects that include teams, leadership and conflict. To contact him, send an email to tom@ntgriggs.com.

Don't miss a single issue of the world largest magazine of martial arts.

Bruce Lee's "10,000 Kicks" Challenge – Complete 10,000 Kicks in 10 Days and Feed The Children

Bruce Lee's secret to self-mastery is hidden in the following quote, "I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times." Discipline, dedication and perfect repetition over time are the keys to mastery. To get results like Bruce Lee we need to train like Bruce Lee.

Keep Reading Show less

If there's a martial artist in your life who's hard to shop for, look no further than this list of the best holiday gifts from the world's leading magazine of martial arts.

The holidays are right around the corner and there's no better time to shop for the ninjas in your family! Black Belt Magazine doesn't just provide the history and current events of the martial arts world, we can equip you with all the best products too. From beautiful belt displays, to stylish gloves, to collector's edition books, keep reading to check out this list of the top five gifts to kick under the tree this year.

Keep Reading Show less

A thoughtful question from Mitch Mitchell, an affiliate coach of American Frontier Rough and Tumble, prompted me to commit to paper some observations regarding two common tools/weapons of the frontier. First, the exchange that led to all this:

Question: "Am I on the right track or holding my danged knife wrong?"

My reply: "Bowie designs are manifold. My personal preference falls toward a flat-spine knife with a half-guard because a spine-side guard or broken spine jams up my thumb on a sincere stab in a saber grip. For me, anyway, a nice, straight, full-power stab with a hammer grip on the high line is impossible, and anyway it is a wrist killer."

Mitchell's question is a common one that can lead us one step closer to weapons wisdom. First, I will point out that discovering that certain tactics and grips are wrist killers is possible only when we invest time in hard training with hard targets. If we stick with mirror play, shadow play or tit-for-tat flow drills with a partner using mock weapons, we likely will never stumble on the realities that make certain tactics ill-advised. As they say, train real to find real.

Keep Reading Show less

Intellectualization is defined as a defense mechanism that entails using reasoning to avoid unconscious conflict and its associated emotional stress — wherein thinking is used to avoid feeling. It involves removing oneself emotionally from a stressful event.

Increasingly, I notice the trend in combatives and other self-defense "systems" to intellectualize — actually, to over-intellectualize. The definition of intellectualization that appears above perfectly captures the meaning as it applies to fighting.In an effort to avoid the pain, consequence, damage and stress of fighting — whether in training or for real — instructors use constructed language to describe the impossible (what's expected in the moment) and use pseudoscience to justify what they're professing.Those of you who have read this column for any length of time have heard me say over and over that if you want to learn to fly, at some point, you have to actually take off and land. The same is true of fighting: If you want to learn to fight well, you have to spend a significant amount of time actually fighting. There is no replacement for this.

Keep Reading Show less
Free Bruce Lee Guide
Have you ever wondered how Bruce Lee’s boxing influenced his jeet kune do techniques? Read all about it in this free guide.
Don’t miss a thing Subscribe to Our Newsletter