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That Was Great!

I give talks on Karate from time to time. I also give talks about real estate law (I am a real estate attorney).

Recently I gave a talk to about 100 real estate professionals. It seemed to go very well. Afterwards, my wife asked about the comments I received after speaking. I reported that the comments were very positive.

But I added that people generally say nice things after someone gives a speech or teaches on a subject. It is common courtesy to show appreciation for the speaker's time and effort.

I am sure that most people mean what they say, but I am also sure that some people might think that the talk was no that great, but keep it to themselves. People with something nice to say are more likely to do so.

I have never given a talk and had someone say, "Man, you have no idea about what you're talking about and you're a lousy speaker!" People might have thought it, but kept it to themselves.

What is the point? When we talk about Karate or demonstrate Karate, there is a likelihood that people will say nice things. They might be correct, they might be wrong, or they might just being polite.

That kata you just performed may be the best ever, or it might be the worst ever. More than likely, it is somewhere in between.

I often tell my children that if you live for the approval of other people, then they are controlling you. You are putting your happiness or sadness in the hands of others. It is far better to take control yourself. You are the best judge of your effort. Try your best. If someone says that you did well, say "thank you" but realize that they may be right, wrong, polite, or even lying. If someone says that you were terrible, the same applies. Who knows if they are correct?

We are often taught that if we do not have something good to say, it is better to say nothing at all. If you give a talk or demonstration to 100 people and 10 people say you did great, you might feel pretty good. But what about the other 90? Perhaps they had nothing good to say.

I have never seen a senior perform a kata and feel 100% good about it. The more senior the person is, the more he feels that he could have done better. My own Sensei is never satisfied because he is so demanding of himself. In his mind, I think he is saying, "I could have done better. I still need to work on myself."

When I perform kata, I am happy if I do one movement well. Two movements done well is a reason to celebrate!

My own children are very critical. If they compliment me on even one movement in a kata, I feel great!

Imagine, I do Pinan Shodan and one of my children might say, "that one shuto was good." One shuto out of an entire kata? Ouch! I have created critical children. (You have to realize that I have brought my children to class with me from the time they were 5 years old, so they have seen a lot of kata.)

Anyway, the next time someone says that you are "great", or whatever, you might think in the back of your mind: "I wonder if they really mean it? Are they just being polite? Do they have the requisite skill to accurately evaluate my movement? How do I think that I did? Could I have done better? If so, how?"

Also remember that if someone attacks you, he probably will not know who you are and will certainly not be impressed by you. Compliments and a reputation will not defend you -- you will have to do that yourself.


Charles C. Goodin