Running a martial arts school has been both extremely rewarding and well, a bit odd (and yes, stressful at times). Mainly rewarding though. The teaching part is light-years beyond gratifying. The “business end” is on the other end of the spectrum. Overall, it is a great journey.
It certainly has its challenges too. One of the challenges is discovering why people leave and of course, improving so this does not happen. About 60% of the people will tell you why — new job, moving, wife had a baby etc. I am always appreciative of such dignified, classy people who tell me face to face. I may be disappointed that they are leaving, but certainly understand. More so, I appreciate the thoughtfulness. They may or may not ever train in martial arts again, but in my eyes, they will always be martial artists.
Of the remaining 40%, about half of these individuals, I can figure out why they left. The training is too difficult, too physical or they simply do not have the qualities it takes to learn martial arts including Systema. No problem here. Try it a couple of times and if it is a fit, great. If not, great. That is why Baskins Robbins makes 50 flavors instead of one.
The 20% who simply “disappear” . . . . these are the puzzles. They train, often for extended periods of time, seem to enjoy themselves and then stop showing up, never to be heard from again.
Gabriel was one of these people. I remembered his name because it is somewhat uncommon, but mainly because he and his buddy were from the same small town I grew up. He trained for about 8 months and then did the disappearing act.
This weekend, 4 years after the fact, he emailed me. Firstly, he apologized for the way in which he left and secondly,he wrote nearly a page and a half of how his life improved due to the training here at Central Florida Systema.
Impressive, especially considering he is about 23 or 24 years old.
Firstly, it was impressive how he corrected an error and reclaimed honor. A few simple apologetic words erased the memory of the “disappearing act.”
Secondly, though I appreciated the compliments, truth be told, his success was due to the fact that he came to every single class for these 8 months. He paid attention, even took notes and was one of the hardest working students I ever had. His success was due to his efforts, paid for in sweat.
For those of us who are students and we all are students, we never know the impact that the lessons are having. Often, they are like a seed, waiting for the proper moment before blooming. Sometimes it is instantaneous. Sometimes it takes a while. Sometimes, 4 years.
For those of us who are teachers and we all are teachers, we never know the impact the lessons are having. As such, whether one person comes to class or 21, always be sure to give it 100% effort. The lesson that “is no big deal” to us may end up being a life changer for someone else.
You just never know.