For years as a Taekwondo instructor, parents have thanked me for my patience, often wondering how I do it. I take these appreciative comments with a grain of salt; I don't really know any other way to be. It's my job as a Taekwondo instructor to help students achieve their goals and become better martial arts practitioners. When working with my students, I stay focused on the goal; the time it takes to achieve it is much less important than the satisfaction of seeing the goal accomplished. With that said, not too long ago my patience was truly tested and I wasn't sure if I would make it.
I remember the day like yesterday: The bathroom at the dojang was renovated and the Town of Apex was coming for the final inspection. I went down to Progressive TKD to see if I could catch the inspectors, realizing as I walked in that I had just missed them. They left the results of the inspection.
Reading those words sent a shockwave through my body. I was already two months pass my target opening date and now the town was demanding that I install a second water fountain before I could open. Bear in mind, they'd already approved the plans for the renovations with a single water fountain. As I sat in the front of the school, I fought back tears of frustration. I was so close to opening, yet obstacles kept popping up to prolong the process. At this moment I knew how badly I wanted to open this school and make a positive impact on someone’s life. Normally I only cry when I watch Marley and Me, Rudy, or the Lion King, but this process was bringing me to the brink of breaking. For the remainder of that day, I worked with the town to try to figure out where the communication breakdown occurred; they simply apologized and held their position that I needed a second water fountain in order to open my school.
A little over two months later, I watched parents and children alike celebrate as students put their hard work and dedication on display during our very first belt promotion exam. Every hand clap, every smile, every ki-up brought a smile to my face. This is what all the hard work was for - moments like this. All the construction, disappointment, and frustration I felt going thru the process of opening up the school is a distant memory every time I see someone wearing a Taekwondo uniform walk through my doors.
The lessons we learn on the mat do not stay on the mat, nor should they. The tools we develop from practicing Taekwondo coincide with the tools we use in our daily lives. As a student you need to have patience that learning a new skill takes time, effort, and the dedication to practice. As an instructor, I need patience in working with my students. Everyone learns and processes information differently; I must have the patience to give them time.
In life, we don’t get things when we want them; it's learning patience that prevents us from becoming discouraged and allows us to stay motivated. No matter what you are striving for, whether on the mat or in life. Stay dedicated and optimistic, and you will see your dream come true. I did.