Power Word – Politeness

Showing good manners and respect to others is the literal definition of this powerful word.  Politeness can truly go a long way toward making you a powerful individual and propel you further toward your success.

But how often do we truly serve up politeness in our daily lives?  Think about the clerk in the store where you attempted to exchange an item.  Or the fellow driver on the highway that wants to make a lane change in front of you?  How about your co-workers (even the ones that are not polite in return)?  How quickly would you get that item exchanged if you were abrupt or less than courteous with that clerk?  Would that fellow driver become aggressive with you if you chose not let them make a lane change?  How would the work environment feel if you and your co-workers had a casual attitude toward common courtesy and politeness?  Feel the tension already rising?

So, yes, politeness can indeed become a powerful word in terms of keeping the peace, so to speak and expediting matters important to you.  But it can also lead to much, much more in quite unexpected ways.  I’ll share with you a true story I once read about regarding politeness.

An elderly lady entered a retail shop and was greeted by a sales clerk on the floor.  He attended to the elderly lady, waiting on her patiently, and assisting her with various imagesclothing items she appeared interested in buying.  The clerk spent over an hour with the lady as she perused the shop, but in the end she purchased nothing.  The clerk remained polite and courteous the entire time.

A couple of days passed and a gentleman appeared at the retail shop.  When approached by the same clerk who had previously helped the elderly lady, the gentleman asked for him by name.  The gentleman went on to explain that he wanted to thank the clerk for attending to his mother.  He was actually somewhat apologetic about the matter, but also greatly impressed with the clerk, who had spent so much time and treated his mother with such kindness and respect.  The gentleman then went on to offer the retail clerk a position within his own company.  As it turned out the gentleman ran a large corporation and was quite wealthy.  The offer was accepted and the retail clerk went from making a modest retail wage to a six-figure income as the gentleman’s personal assistant.

So, always remember, politeness can indeed go a long way toward your own success.  Because you never know who it is that you may encounter in your life.  That elderly lady you just assisted, the man you let change lanes in front of you, or even a co-worker may be that one person who could provide the pathway to success and happiness.  And it was all because you practiced the deep principles of a powerful word known as politeness.

Where To Place Your Focus

The first thing that typically goes through one’s mind when presented with a problem is the problem itself.  We ruminate upon it, emotionally fixated on the fact that a difficulty has presented itself.  In that instant we become paralyzed and trapped in the moment, thinking how difficult or terrible the problem might be.  We vocalize about it, telling our spouse or our co-workers about the problem.  We worry about it, caught up in a melodrama that perhaps we have created all on our own, and allow the problem to continue to exist and perhaps worsen the longer we fixate upon it.

But what if instead of fixating on the problem, we focused on the solution?  So, then, the question becomes “how” do we take our focus off the problem and put it on the solution.  “How”, indeed!

You see, when we are presented with a challenge or a problem, we should recognize the problem, and then we should quickly move on towards looking for a solution.  In order to do this we have to ask this one question – “How, do I solve this problem?”  By asking “how”, we no longer fixate on the problem.20171103_112929

In martial arts, the example would be of a student who cannot do a jumping, spinning crescent kick.  They try to do it, but they are stuck trying to figure out the mechanics, and the problem grows in their mind because they cannot focus on the correct movements.  Instead they focus on just not being able to do it.  They allow the problem to create an emotional barrier that impedes finding a solution.  This leads to frustration, and if they do not learn “how” to do the kick correctly, this problem grows over time leading to greater frustration in other areas.  In this case, when the student says they can’t do it, they should instead be stating they do not know “how” to do it.  Then from there they should be asking themselves “how” do they learn “how” to do it.

This also comes up in daily life outside martial arts.  In the business world, for example, sometimes upper management devises a new policy requiring higher production or higher sales quotas.  The higher production or quotas are so high that mid and lower level management and all the other employees look at the issue as something existing in the realm of impossibility.  They throw their hands up, emotionally, and say this can’t be done.  But if they take their emotional focus off the problem and put their logical focus on the solution, they can quickly ask the question how is the new, higher production or sales quota achievable?  This leads to thought-evoking steps and brainstorming, followed by the next question in the solution process:  What, specifically, needs to be done to reach the solution to this problem?  What steps can be specifically taken?

So don’t get stuck in the emotional trap that a problem creates.  Instead, look to the logical solution by asking one question:  How?

Power Word – Bravery

Bravery is said to be that thing where we take action despite fear of the outcome.  Often it is connected with combat, something that martial artists are all too familiar with, asdaring-to-fail-bravery-picture-quote well as those who serve in uniform protecting our country.

Yet bravery also exists outside the realm of combat.  For example, there are philosophical differences that may arise between you and an acquaintance or a loved one.  There could be a difficult project that needs to be dealt with, or a work-related obstacle that needs to be overcome.  There’s also the issue of fears and phobias that are keeping us from achieving the best versions of ourselves.

Being afraid is not unusual, whether we choose to admit it or not.  It’s a natural tendency hardwired into our brain and works as a protective mechanism to keep us alive.  And human beings, like all living organisms, naturally move toward pleasure and away from pain.  Combat, for example, can be painful.  Dealing with a tense relationship issue can be painful.  Standing up to someone who wishes to intimidate or dominate can be painful.  Hence, we often avoid dealing with it, thus avoiding the pain in order to hold onto pleasure, however temporary it may be.  This only continues the status quo and in most cases worsens it.  It also keeps us from growing and achieving that next level in whatever goal or project set before us.   This is where bravery becomes necessary.  Essentially, bravery is that intestinal fortitude that allows us to overcome the fear of failure, and the resultant pain that comes from that failure, whether it is physical or emotional.

Children deal with this issue often when faced with the schoolyard bully.  The situation only gets worse the more they attempt to avoid addressing the problem.  Eventually, they either have to neutralize the bully through gaining the support and action of adults in authority over the bully, or take matters into their hands to demonstrate to the bully that they cannot be dominated in such a fashion.  Either option requires bravery on the part of the child.  Adults deal with this, too, but on a more sophisticated, if somewhat more complex and nuanced level.  And again, it comes back to being brave enough to overcome fear of the possible negative consequences.

However, once we do overcome the fear, whether it is about dealing with a tough relationship issue, or moving forward with a tremendously difficult challenge, it is that bravery that keeps us going through the process ofimages (5) resolving the issue and achieving success.  Without employing bravery as a powerful word in our daily lives, we place ourselves in varying states of stagnation, submission, weakness, and in some rare instances cowardice.  None of these are positive and none allow for growth, evolution, empowerment, and success in one’s daily life.

What is suggested is that whether one shows bravery for philosophical reasons or for the protection of one’s physical or emotional well-being, it is important to do so for those obvious reasons, but also for one’s personal growth and evolution.  Bravery goes hand in hand with motivation.  One is the intent to do something and the other is used to overcome the fear that in doing something one might fail.  Put bravery into your daily vocabulary and couple it with your motivation to achieve great things, and you will have a nearly unstoppable power in your hands.

The Keystone

Throughout the ages, great philosophers have touched upon the concept of respect.  The Buddha, Confucius, Jesus Christ, Socrates, Lao Tzu, and many more great thinkers have discussed the topic. It permeates the philosophies, religions, and customs of virtually all of humanity.  It is as universal as the human smile. 20161210_143435 (2)

I would not pretend that I am a great mind to be elevated to the pantheon of the world’s greatest philosophers.  I am simply a martial artist and a teacher.  Yet, I have spent years practicing and teaching this very concept to myself, my peers, and my students.  Respect is quite literally the first rule of martial arts, and without it there can only be suffering.


If there is one thing I do understand as a martial artist, respect is the cornerstone of the martial way.  Failure to respect your opponent and their capabilities could lead to catastrophe and defeat.   Martial arts, quite literally, is the art of combat – the art of war – something the philosopher Sun Tzu wrote about centuries ago.  To paraphrase him, ‘know your enemy better than you know yourself, and your victory is certain’.  But he was not merely talking about having knowledge of the enemy’s capabilities.  He clearly understood, also, that a healthy respect for those capabilities was a key component of combat, as do all true practitioners of the martial arts.  If you know what the enemy is capable of, then you will certainly respect them if and when an engagement occurs.  If you do not, then you will be defeated.

However, what is best is what happens before any actual conflict is engaged and that is respect for one another as human beings.  If we respect one another, even if we differ in our opinions or philosophies, then we can avoid physical confrontation altogether.  Miyomoto Mushashi said it best when he said that the ultimate aim of martial arts is in not having to use them.  Hence, in completely understanding all aspects of martial arts, which includes respect as its keystone, we can avoid combat altogether.


Imagine what our world and our individual lives would be like if respect was practiced by everyone at all times.  Respect for ourselves, respect for others and their property, respect for other religions and philosophies, respect for political ideologies, skin color, gender, and even respect for the natural world, all living things, and the very planet itself; imagine truly what we would have.

If you seek true peace, tranquility and happiness then a complete knowledge, understanding and practice of respect is imperative.  It would become the very heart of everything you see, do, and feel.

Respect, quite simply, is the keystone to the arch of humanity.

Vision & Inspiration

Ask any of our Leadership Program students, and they will tell you that in their leadership classes it is often discussed what are the qualities of a leader. They know a good leader has the ability to serve those who follow, can inspire others to accomplish gdalailamareat things, accept responsibility, show great self-control and confidence in the face of turmoil, and have excellent communication skills.

They also know that the leader is the one out front, looking to the journey forward and seeing with the furthest vision what lies ahead. It is the leader who communicates to those he serves how the team will reach their destination, and the leader does this by inspiring and encouraging the team that they can accomplish the journey no matter how bumpy the road might be. It is these qualities of seeing ahead and then using inspirational communication that a great leader shows those who follow how to achieve their own greatness as individuals and the greatness of the team as a whole.

Without this ability to translate the vision of what is to come, coupled with the of inspiration, there can be no success.  Think of those leaders of the past who inspired us: President Kennedy, when he urged the nation to put a man on the moon; Dr. King when he inspired us with his dream.  Where would we be now had they been unable to translate their vision?

Anyone can be a leader, but to be a great leader, you must see far ahead and look at the big picture. Once you do that, look to your team, whether it be your family, your co-workers, your associates, students, or the teeming masses of humanity, and communicate your vision using the passion of inspiration to show them the road ahead.