Thursday, March 23, 2017


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One thing I've been noticing for a while is how people hold themselves when they're waiting to be heard or waiting for their chance to say/do something.  Sometimes it's the proximity of how close they stand to the person(s) they want to address, sometimes it's the angle of how they stand compared to other people in the group, but it can be several other things.

No judgement on this, because when isn't there a time you really want to be heard and have to wait for it?  We all go through that, even professionally.

But my question to you is what if you went through a whole class and purposefully avoided getting attention?  How weird would that feel to you?  What does that tell you?  If you didn't approach the instructor, if you didn't ask questions, if you didn't make jokes - just for one class - would that be easy or hard for you?  And what does that say about you?

Conversely, if you went through a whole class and actively sought attention throughout, how difficult would that be for you?  Would you have to change your actions a little or a lot?  What does that tell you?  If you decided to ask several questions and get involved in conversations, would that surprise people?  Would it improve your experience?

This isn't a critique of people that speak up, or those that choose not to..  It's also not a critique of people that want to be heard or acknowledged, nor those who prefer to follow whichever way the current flows.  As I usually do, I just want people to think about their tendencies and how it affects - or doesn't affect - their training and how others perceive them.

In the dojo, there's an advanced student who will, during breaks, often come stand over with the black belts as we discuss what we're going to do next.  When one of us asks if he has any questions, he'll say "no, I was just wondering what we're going to do next."  Then we tell him he'll know when we tell everyone else.  He wants attention but not so much to actually ask upfront, but the way he goes about getting it is actually more off-putting than if he just asked directly.

There have also been students, advanced students at times, who don't ask questions because they didn't want to "impose" and then suffer through misunderstandings of technique for sometimes years because of it.  That's frustrating in a different way as an instructor, because now asking that person if they have any questions leads to a guessing game.

As with most things, a balance is best.  But before you can achieve any sort of balance, you have to be aware that there is a spectrum, and then whereabouts you fall on it.  Which is why I asked how hard it would be, how much differently you would have to act, if you went to either extreme.  The less you have to change of your behavior, the closer to an extreme you are.  Always question, always seek awareness!

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