For the next several classes, our focus will be on the concept of teamwork. Teamwork is always important in the martial arts, as one cannot become proficient in most techniques without a partner to practice with, but for the time being we are going to challenge our students to think deeply about this concept. I would like to use the word teamwork in a general sense, relating to any situation in which we interact with others. My goal for this topic is to help our students to learn to get along with others.
Working with and getting along with others can be very challenging, and I struggle with it myself. However, two people, if they can put the pieces together the right way, can generally accomplish more than either could alone.
Additionally, many times in life, we won’t have much of a choice; we will have to find a way to get along with others, even when that seems very difficult.
Yesterday one of our younger students pointed out that two people could lift a heavier object than either of them could individually. I thought this was a good image of what teamwork is all about. I am very excited to hear more ideas about teamwork from our students over the next several classes. I only have one point that I want to throw out there to get the ball rolling, although, as you will see, it will lead to a couple of sub-points.
Getting along with others is tough.
This might sound negative or cynical, but I think that accepting this reality is the first step to getting along with others. I believe that if two people interact for any significant amount of time, there will eventually be disagreements and maybe conflict. Oh sure, if the two people are good friends or really seem to “click” right away that might take a very long time, but eventually some discord will surface.
I believe that the Black Belt views such “friction” as a natural part of life, which occurs whenever two or more people interact, rather than as a personal attack. Rather than saying, “Jon is difficult,” the Black Belt might say, “Working with others is always challenging, but it is also worth the effort.” The Black Belt does not become flustered or get defensive when such challenges occur. They expected the challenges, and were therefore better prepared to overcome them.
Let’s say that Andrew and I are partners, and this wasn’t my week to shower. Andrew might complain about my lack of respect for others, and ask for a new partner. But eventually that new partner would also do something that he isn’t crazy about. Then he would ask for a new partner. In all seriousness, it's important to shower daily, but if Andrew is looking for a partner who is perfect, he is going to be looking for a long time.
Teamwork is much easier said than done, but I feel that with the right approach, a little bit of patience, and a whole lot of compassion, we can accomplish great things together.