You remember, don't you, how a month before packing up and leaving London I discovered kickboxing? I fell in love. The sweat, the power, the permission to explore another side of myself.
Coming back to my Northern roots and the town where I grew up, I didn't expect to find a martial arts place. I think I'd cultivated that awful London attitude of how nothing good can possibly exist in other parts of the country. So I didn't expect to find anything and I certainly didn't expect to find anything good.
But I Googled it anyway - "kickboxing Lancaster UK" - the UK bit's really important because Google's such a tease and often comes up with amazing things in Lancaster that get me terribly excited before I finally realise they're in Pennsylvania.
But something came up. Kaizen Academy. It sounded pretty cool. The reviews were unbelievably good.
And so to this moment, sitting at the train station having just finished my first class.
It couldn't have been more different from the classes I took in London. From the airy, white, air conditioned interior, to the provision of high quality equipment free of charge, to the lack of any obligation to wear a uniform or chant "oss" before and after every exercise.
It was an introductory class with two others. Slower and more structured than the classes in London. Just a totally different feel.
But what I loved more than anything was this:
They teach lots of different styles and combinations of different things. They might spend a week or two practising and looking at moves from one style before moving on to look at others.
Because "this isn't about us teaching you THE way to do this. There isn't one. We show you lots of different ways of doing things so you can develop your own unique style over time. It's about being you. Martial arts is a changing, evolving, developing thing so we're not just looking to teach how to do something here but to develop new things together to stay ahead of the curve."
So he really kind of had me at that bit.
Over the last few years of building my business, I've become highly suspicious of anyone or anything that tells me I have to do "it" their way because that's the only way that works. Inversely, I've come to respect and trust those who master their craft, share their knowledge and at the same time hold their hands up in recognition of the fact that there's always more than one way to do anything.
A true teacher, in my world, is one who shares what they know whilst encouraging an exploration of your own style and way of doing things.
Business, life - it's all the same. You learn the principles that work from those who know what they're doing. You observe, you practice, you throw yourself in. And you respect the experience and insight of those who've gone before you. And at the same time, you trust yourself enough to explore, try out new things and develop a way of working that's a unique expression of who you are.
These are the people who win. They're the ones no one can catch or bring down. They take everything in. They learn exactly how it's done. And then with all that knowledge, they strike out in their brilliantly unique way.
I say this repeatedly because no amount of saying it is ever enough - you just gotta be you.
Clear? Good. Off you go.
Love and courage,