September 22, 2020

Karate 4 Life
Karate 4 Life
The Power Of Leading By Example

“There’s always somebody watching.” In everything that we do people see us. Whether we like to admit it or not, we are being judged. But even more importantly people are learning from us.

In the dojo, juniors look up to their seniors, but it also works the other way too.

Outside of the dojo, as parents our kids see everything we do and copy, our actions, attitudes & habits; both the good and the bad.

The same is true of everyone we come into contact with on a daily basis. Over time, we pick up the habits of the people with whom we spend the most time.

If there’s always someone watching… maybe we need to ask, “What’s the example I am trying to set?”

—- Transcript —-

Sandra: Hey everyone, this is Martin & Sandra Phillips, welcome back. to the Karate 4 Life Podcast.

Martin: Today we want to talk about, ‘the power of leading by example.’

Martin: We’ve noticed that everyone faces challenges in life, some big some small. But not everyone has a way to navigate these problems.

Sandra: It’s not always easy, but we’ve found that we always keep coming back to what we’ve learned from our years in the dojo.

Martin: And that’s what this podcast is about…

Sandra: Helping us all find the solutions to life’s problems…

Martin: Or even better yet, to remove the problems before they arise.

Sandra: This is Martin & Sandra Phillips and welcome to the Karate 4 Life Podcast.

Sandra: Good to see you back again, Martin. Are we enjoying the podcasts?

Martin: Yes, we’re certainly getting there. It’s a bit of a learning experience, but each time we do it, hopefully, we’re getting a little bit better.

Sandra: I think we’re getting better. I think it’s great to watch you do a few mishaps with the technology.

Martin: Yes… Good for you. [chuckles]

Sandra: Good for me to watch on the sideline. Let’s get straight into today’s topic of the power of leading by example. This one is, I guess, for me personally, one thing that I practice most days and I have done for many years. Thanks to Soke Sensei. He pulled this one out of the bag many years ago when I first met him when our kids were very young and he came to the Sunshine Coast. I didn’t speak very much to him. That was more so your place where you spoke mostly to Soke Sensei.

I had a brief chat every now and then, but it was so small and so few words, but I remember one occasion when he said to me, “Lead by example.” I pondered that for years. Our kids are now teenagers and I still ponder that question every day. I look at the world around me and think, “Okay, I’m leading by example, but there’s some things that are coming back at me, which I don’t necessarily like,” and I always come back to myself. I take 100% responsibility in that reflection. If I don’t like what’s coming back from our children or our students, I would go back to me first and think what am I putting out there.

Martin: It’s a bit of reflection. Every person that you come into contact with that you spend time with on a daily basis, they start to take on your behaviors, your habits, your routines. It’s like holding a mirror up to yourself and looking at the example that you’re setting for them. I know this is something that, I guess, we both take very seriously, both in the dojo and as parents as is what’s the example that we try to set. We say these habits mirrored back to us, some good, some not so good. Every time, it’s an opportunity to learn and reset the course.

Sandra: If you’re open to receiving that kind of learning. I know that in the past, I wasn’t so open to receiving that because it was nothing to do with my problems. It wasn’t all about me. It was all about the other person doing the wrong thing, but often we have to be humble enough and think, “Well, hang on, what can I do in this situation?” I guess, remain empowered as opposed to giving up your power. When you take responsibility for yourself and what comes to you and your life and empowers you to create change for the better. Have you got any examples of leading by example.

Martin: Well, I was actually going to throw it back to you because when we were talking about this before, you had a really good example with the kids and one of the habits that you have in your work situation.

Sandra: I’ll try and be as brief as I can with this one. That can be drawn out. I think this one, but let’s just put it in shorthand when my kids were younger and I was working, when they approached me during work time, I would close my laptop and I’d turn my body and I would face them and I would listen intently. Basically, if it was the right time to– if I could get away from the work, I would do that. I would just stop work.

Martin: You had something really important.

Sandra: Something really important. Things like what comes to my mind are things like sock-sliding. You get your socks on and slide on those tiles around the house and chase the kids down.

Martin: So really important stuff.

Sandra: Really important stuff.

Martin: Like if they come to you with a scooter?

Sandra: Yes, they’d bring the scooters in and we go for a scooter ride around the house. These are really important things, or go on the trampoline together. They’re important to me. I love connecting with the kids. There’s also been times when I’ve been so caught up on work and I couldn’t get off that laptop. I had to get something finished and I would simply say to the kids, “Hey, look, when that big hand moves down to whatever number it was, I will be all yours.” They’ve never ever had an issue with that.

Martin: What’s that got to do with leading by example?

Sandra: The great thing now they’d both teenagers and every time I go and approach them for something and I go into their room or I find them around the house, basically, every time I go and approach them, needing something from them, they always stop what they’re doing. They would turn the devices off, take the headphones out and they’ll listen to me with great intent and want to know what’s going on.

Martin: That’s mirror are coming back?

Sandra: Yes, it’s amazing to have kids that want to listen to you. [chuckles]

Martin: That’s a good thing, isn’t it?

Sandra: Beautiful. Sometimes, it is just for a bit of a sock-slide or a scooter around the house or something fun like that, or just to have some time together, but it’s to know that you can capture someone’s attention in that way.

Martin: How about in the dojo because, I guess, the mirror being held up? How do you see that happening in the dojo?

Sandra: A great example would be we had a grading just yesterday. I guess, you often talk about this reflection on grading days. We always celebrate the students their grade, of course, but we also go back to the drawing board as teachers and ourselves. Maybe, I’ll hand back to you on this one. You can share more about your processes that you go through after a grading.

Martin: On grading day, I’d like to look at students, obviously. Obviously, I’d like to look at students and assess how they’re progressing in their own run, but it’s also a chance for us to look at ourselves and how we’re communicating things and how we’re teaching things because, obviously, a certain habits come out at various levels. The students all will do things in a certain way. You’ll see when it’s one student, you think, “Okay, it’s a personal habit.” When it’s multiple students are at that same level, all doing things in a certain way that you know aren’t quite right, you go to ask the question, where’s this coming from, and 9 times out of 10, they’ve learned that habit from somewhere, and it’s normally from us.

Sandra: Usually from you.

Martin: Usually. [laughs]

Sandra: It’s fun.

Martin: In the process of looking back and reflecting on what students are doing on grading day in particular, but it happens all the time. We talk about students all the time in the dojo about how they’re progressing and what they’re learning and what habits they’re developing, that throws that light back on ourselves. We’re going to look at what’s that example that we’re setting for them on the technical front, on the attitude front, on the way they interact with people, everything.

Sandra: Isn’t it the most amazing journey though? There’s a career path that we chose. We chose to do this as a career path. Are there any things we could have done? Every day, we are accountable to not only ourselves, but our students. We have to turn up, even on the bad days, we’ve got to keep on turning out and we have to keep on leading by example the best we can. Yes, we do make mistakes, but isn’t it a wonderful thing when you humble yourself to receive that reflection in the mirror so beautifully and you go, “You know what? I’ll take that. I’ll own that. I’m going to make it better and raise the bar.” Every day you do that, it just do you find that your life just elevate to whole new levels of energy?

Martin: Absolutely. It’s a really powerful tool for learning. When you look at yourself in a critical way like that, you can’t help the question every single thing that you do and forces you to lead by example.

Sandra: It’s pretty amazing, isn’t it? Just in this way of, I guess, leading by example and thinking and being humble enough to receive the feedback very indirectly through people around you, you’re forced to grow and enhance your life. It’s the most beautiful thing, isn’t it?

Martin: Absolutely it is.

Sandra: I tell you what guys, if you are interested in really making some big change, powerful changes in your life, please ponder those words “lead by example” and just throw it out there, write about it, think about it. Just be aware of what people are doing around you, what they say to you, how they behave around you and then see if you can, through your own behaviour and habits and thoughts, words, everything about you, see if you can find a way to bring about a greater experience for yourself and everybody around you.

Martin: Thanks for listening to today’s episode of the Karate 4 Life Podcast.

Sandra: If you found this episode useful, please comment on our website

Martin: Share it with your friends via social media and don’t forget to tag us #karate4lifepodcast.

And if you’ve got a topic that you’d like us to cover in a future episode or questions about karate or life…

Sandra: Please send us a message, we’d be more than happy to share our thoughts.

Martin: Thanks again for joining us and stay tuned for the next episode which will be about ‘family time with a purpose’.

About the author 

Sandra & Martin Phillips

Co-Founders of Karate 4 Life Online (established 2020) & Sunshine Coast Karate (established 2000). Martin Phillips, 5th Dan, Shihan (Master Instructor). Sandra Phillips, 5th Dan, Shihan (Master Instructor).

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  1. Its not a wonder that SCK students are doing so well. That’s the difference where the teacher leads by example, is first a student herself/himself, and carries the message to apply into everyday life; now I’ve got some reflection to do myself 😉

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