Sunday, February 3, 2013

What am I getting into?

I am observing the tail end of the Dragon teams year, and preparing to enter the year of the snake. At the same time, my company has been sending me for training as a new supervisor, much of which is directly applicable to any team that is expected to function well. The main points that I see as being applicable here is a clear set of goals and expectations.
Here are the goals I am seeing vocalized for the I Ho Chuan teams, in no particular order:
1)      Black Belt pre-grading requirement
2)      School demo team, both weapons and hand forms
3)      Personal development
4)      Dragon dance/Lion dance demo team
5)      Philanthropic organization (fund raising and snow shoveling)
Balanced against that are limited resources, which also have other demands on them. My personal priorities are (in correct order)
1)      Health (without health all else is a wash)
2)      Family and my marriage (the cost to losing these is too high to trifle with)
3)      My employment (which pays for everything)
4)      Kung Fu
I am very familiar with the balancing act required when the desires of upper management exceed the resources provided, within the constraints demanded (stay on budget, work safe, no lost production etc). The only way to survive without a stress induced breakdown, is to get clarification on what the real priorities are, what they are willing to compromise on, what can wait for a better day.
“Perfect” is the enemy of “Good enough”
I recently had to coach a subordinate who was going over time and budget on a project due to attempted perfection. I had to explain the difference between the expectations of a framing carpenter, who will be working with rough lumber, with the final product of his work being hidden behind drywall, and a finishing carpenter doing kitchen cabinets. He was trying to apply the standards of one to the other, and was not realizing the true cost.
How do I see this applying to Kung Fu? From my understanding, Kung Fu is trying for a well rounded Martial Artist, but not an expert in everything. Over history, other disciplines have specialized in one facet or another, but had to drop something to achieve that skill. MMA guys might be the best in a cage match, against a single, unarmed opponent of a similar weight, guaranteed that no friends will show up to help and a referee to stop the match before things get out of hand, but how will they do in the real world?
I joined Kung Fu to get in shape, learn some potentially valuable skills and to enjoy my life in the process. The “Kung Fu is a generalist” take on life fits with my personal values. My request to the team, and its leaders, is for a clear guide to the expectations that joining the team entails, so that I can either agree, or withdraw before the implied contract is in force. Once we have agreed to the terms, I will do my best to honor them. This also implies that if any party to this agreement wishes to change the agreement, that they must again negotiate the new terms, not dictate them.
I want Kung Fu to infuse my life, not wash it away
Dennis Donohue

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