Hiding in the karate school bathroom, staring in the mirror, coaching myself every day before I started teaching… my pre-class ritual was solid.
“You got this. You can do this. You’re going to be great.”
I splashed water in my face. I made weird noises. I was nervous. Anxious. My stomach revolted. The first few months that I taught martial arts was tough. I was new to teaching, and I didn’t want to fail, and it took a lot of self talk to get me out on the floor, engaging with students.
My mindset became— if I can just pretend to be Master Arthur (my instructor) and sound like him, everything will be okay.
And that’s exactly what I did.
I stole his jokes. I used his quirky phrases. I even mimicked his raspy voice (turned out to be warts in the back of his throat… completely separate story).
The result? Parents loved me. Students learned martial arts. And my confidence grew. I became a competent instructor, and it changed the course of my entire life.
All because of one tactic.
“Act as if.”
I believe “acting as if” is one of the first keys to building confidence and achieving our goals.
If you take class with us, you hear it all the time.
“Strike like a black belt! Stand at attention like a black belt. Be louder like a black belt! Black belts never give up!”
Our goal is simple. We want you to earn your black belt. We’ve learned that if we can get you to “act as if you’re a black belt”, you have a real shot at getting good and accomplishing the goal.
Have you ever employed this tactic, either in martial arts, or another area of your life? Did it work out well for you? Can you remember a time that you felt incompetent and unsure, and then just decided you would “act” the part?
We all have. It serves us well. Pretending often gets us to take action even when we may not be good enough.
But the more you pretend, somewhere along the way, it doesn’t feel like pretending anymore. It feels like you can do it—and do it well.
If you’re already a student, you’ll be well served by “acting” like a black belt each and every time you attend class.
If you’re not a student yet, but think you’re ready to try, grab a 30 day guest pass and set up your first class! It can be virtual or in person. We do it all 🙂
See you soon!
Master Don Alley