I have always had a difficult time tooting my own horn. So when this topic came up to write about for Create a Blog challenge, I procrastinated on it for a few days until I realized that if I couldn’t give myself credit for what I do well, how could I ever expect anybody else to?
I have always been good at taking fairly complex systems and processes and breaking them down to manageable steps.
I first really understood this gift of mine when I was told by my Hapkido instructor that I would be taking over teaching the kid’s classes. Up to that point, I would often just stay to myself. I always considered myself a loner who was very comfortable doing things alone. I found it very difficult being in social situations, often preferring to stay on the sidelines and watch the game.
Now, all of sudden, I was put in the spotlight. Standing in front of a dozen kids and taking charge. The beginning of a Hapkido class is pretty straightforward, there are a series of drills, warm-ups and stretches that we do everyday. So that part was easy.
The tough part though was the second half of class, where we break up into groups and work on individual techniques and drills relevant to the different belt ranks. During this part of the class, it fell to me as the instructor to review progress for the students as they were practicing their techniques and also to introduce brand new techniques to them.
It was at this point that I realized that I was very good at breaking down, sometimes complicated, movements into a simple step by step process. I am a kinesthetic-visual learner. I see how the body moves and am able to describe those movements for the student. I discovered that sometimes we really don’t realize how complex the movements are for what we take for granted.
One funny example of this is a drill that we do called, ‘step to the side and single punch.’ A very common exercise that many martial arts practice.
But when you are trying to teach it to a class full of 5 year old kids, what adults take for granted, can’t be done with these tiny tots. For example, for all of you, if I tell you to step to the left, you pick up your left leg, shift it a little to the left and then place the foot down. About half the class of 5 year olds, still don’t know their left from their right.
So a simple drill that as an adult in an adult class just mimicked the instructor as he did it in front of us, I had to break down for the kids into 10 discrete steps that I guided them through day after day until it became ‘natural.’
I found that this also applied for me when I was at work on construction sites as an electrician. As electricians, I work is fairly repetitive; bend and install conduit, pull wire through conduit, wire up devices and panels, turn everything on hoping nothing blows up (literally!). But it is the application of these basic tasks that require a great deal of creativity and a systematic approach to the work.
When I instruct apprentices on how to be an electrician, I rarely focus on the what and how of the work, I focus mainly on the why of work. The what and how is easy, bend pipe, pull wire. But why you do what you do; everything from why are you an electrician to the infamous question, ‘why did you do it like that?’ is what I would teach.
The why of doing your work would set the framework of how to approach the work beyond just that particular task, it would set a methodology for dealing with unique and challenging situations. It would help the apprentices, soon to be journeymen, to take ownership of their work and their ability to get the job done.
Over the years, I have received many compliments and tokens of gratitude from people, both on the Hapkido mat and in the workplace. I have been told repeatedly that I have a very unique way of teaching and sharing what I know. That even though I was the teacher, the student never felt talked down to or belittled, that more so than not, they appreciated what I was able to share and how I shared what I know.
(This post is part of the Live Your Legend Start a Blog Challenge, join the Revolution NOW!)