A sense of mission, beyond profit, beyond image, beyond “agenda,” and beyond anything but a call to duty is, I believe, THE factor to search for if you want to work in a martial arts school and feel like you’re doing something important –and for the world.
A child is not raised by occasional coaching or instruction; a child is not raised by the occasional direction and attention. A child is raised and educated daily, hourly, and by the minute. A wise parent won’t wait to give life-lessons and direction to his or her child once a month, as it’s all too important to wait, it’s too important to put off.
Work for the world, work that connects you to something more than a brand name, a corporation, some elite group of people, or the almighty dollar, shouldn’t be put off either. You don’t wait until you’re wealthy or retired or semi-retired or until the kids leave home or until the truck’s paid off to do the work that feeds your soul and the souls of those around you. It’s something you do in small, incremental, weekly, daily, and hourly pieces.
To be fueled by a purpose beyond profit motive is a kind of freedom everyone should enjoy, but it is sometimes looked down upon by people stuck in the money-mode like an infant stuck in some short, but important stage of brain development. We all know that money doesn’t buy happiness. We all know that we can’t take it with us. We all, in the end, would be better off having lived a life of service to others, a life rich in meaning and contribution, and full of love and compassion and kindness.
I am, in the end, a business consultant and I’m telling you that it’s a sense of mission, deep and meaningful, that is –in my opinion –the very thing that makes you and your business more important and valuable. If you take a partner in marriage because he or she has an inheritance that you would like to get your hands on, well...you’re destined to be in –and cause no small amount of –pain. Likewise, if you’re in your school and your primary focus is on your income and maximizing your profits, you’re headed for an empty kind of accomplishment.
Find your mission and you may very well have the best money-making tool you could hope to find.
If you don’t know how to find your mission, don’t despair; a lot of us don’t know how to find our sense of mission because we haven’t been hanging out with people who “live” mission. If you’ve known somebody who has, then you already know what I’m talking about. For those who could use some “mission coaching,” look, for example, to people like the winners of the Nobel Peace Prize or the MacArthur Fellowship (called the “genius grant”).
Here’s a list of the MacArthur Fellowship’s 2007 recipients:
- Deborah Bial, education strategist
- Peter Cole, translator/poet/publisher
- Lisa Cooper, public health physician
- Ruth DeFries, environmental geographer
- Mercedes Doretti, forensic anthropologist
- Stuart Dybek, short story writer
- Marc Edwards, water quality engineer
- Michael Elowitz, molecular biologist
- Saul Griffith, inventor
- Sven Haakanson, Alutiiq curator/anthropologist/preservationist
- Corey Harris, blues musician
- Cheryl Hayashi, spider silk biologist
- My Hang V. Huynh, chemist
- Claire Kremen, conservation biologist
- Whitfield Lovell, painter/installation artist
- Yoky Matsuoka, neuroroboticist
- Lynn Nottage, playwright
- Mark Roth, biomedical scientist
- Paul Rothemund, nanotechnologist
- Jay Rubenstein, medieval historian
- Jonathan Shay, clinical psychiatrist/classicist
- Joan Snyder, painter
- Dawn Upshaw, vocalist
- Shen Wei, choreographer
(By the way: Why isn’t there, in the history of the MacArthur Fellowship, a grant that’s gone to a martial arts teacher?)
Go to Borders or any bookstore and you’ll find shelves of books about people who are making positive change in the world.
Be warned and be aware: Just like junk food is readily available at just about every turn, so is “junk influence.” Turn on just about any radio station, any TV channel, and go to any movie –and you might find yourself bombarded by triviality, by shallowness, by “buy this to be happy” messages, and endless discussions about the habits and behaviors of blond actresses and singers or ex-football and soccer players. It’s mind-numbing.
Spend a year of your life immersed in the study of people with a sense of heroic and purposeful mission –and you could very well come out of it transformed and empowered. Being an empowered person with a sense of mission --is, in my opinion, a fine form of “mastery,” and a very real form of “self-defense” for today’s world.
It’s also the right way to “do” our kind of business.