Character Chats

Growing Determination

How do we grow our determination?

Here at True Balance Karate, we have a social emotional learning program called True Character. I’m Master H, owner and chief instructor here at the studio, and we have developed this curriculum to best meet the needs of our youngest students who are three or four to our oldest student who I believe turns 85 this year.


And this week we’re talking about, how do we grow our determination?

This whole month has been about determination. We started off with talking about what a determined person looks like. Then we moved into how do we set a goal because a determined person is working towards something. So we needed to know how do we actually set that goal? How do we figure out what it is that we want to accomplish and what steps do we take to get there?

And then last week we talked about the fact that sometimes we lack determination. Sometimes we give up. Sometimes we throw in the towel and decide that we can’t do it, and what that looks like because there’s consequences to that. We miss out on a sense of pride. We miss out on a sense of accomplishment. We miss out on achieving something that had meant something to us, but then got too hard. So, we said, “eh, I can’t.”

Determined Mindset
But when we reach those points or when we’re talking about our youngest students, because no one is born knowing how to be determined, how do we grow it? How do we teach it? How do we move past the hard times?

And that’s what this week is all about. And it starts with some of our leadership training here at the studio. One of the things that we take our students through, our older students get What To Say When You Talk To Yourself, and our younger students get You Are Awesome. And when you’re working through those tough times, when you’re working on growing your determination, when you’re working on expanding where you’re at and what you’re thinking, you want to make sure that you’re talking to yourself in that kind of a positive way. “I’m learning how to do this.” “I know I can go to so-and-so for help.” “I can ask questions.”

By talking to yourself positively, by knowing that you can do it, you’re able to recognize what you have as strengths. What are your strengths? What are you trying to accomplish? What are you working towards when you know those strengths and know where to get help on those weaknesses, that’s when you start to grow your determination through the hard times. That’s when you can push yourself past those struggles.

Make A Plan

And so knowing those things, it really helps us accomplish our goals. Another thing you can do is to do what we talked about earlier in the month, and that’s to write it all out. What does it look like? What can I do? You can even create a, “I can, I need to know how,” kind of a list to your goal.

So maybe your goal is to learn how to cook. You’ve never cooked before, you don’t know how. If you’re like me, you probably burned pasta to the bottom of a pot. Yes, there is a pot at my parents’ house with elbow macaroni permanently singed into the sides of it. One of my finer baking moments, let me tell you.

And so, you’re going to create this goal. I want to learn how to make whatever that may be, some type of macaroni dish, some type of casserole dish, whatever it might be. What do you know how to do? I know how to boil water. I do. What do you not know how to do? I do not know how to set the timers to be able to watch the noodles before they burned to the pot. That was what happened to me. I walked away because I didn’t know how to set the timer.

So instead of saying, I can’t do it, instead of throwing in the towel and lacking that determination and deciding that you’re unable to even get anywhere, look at your strengths. What do you know already? What do you not know? Talk to yourself in a positive way. “I can do this. I need help with this.” Needing help is not a negative. Needing help is actually a very grown up thing to do. Recognizing where you could use some assistance and asking for it.

Positive Self-Talk

Talking to yourself in a positive way is another thing that you can do to help grow your determination. Making sure that you’re using those positive words of like, “this is what I’m working on.” Taking the word try out of your vocabulary and actually doing.

So going back to that cooking analogy, you’re not trying to learn how to cook. You are learning how to cook by asking the questions, by putting the recipe out there, by creating the list of, I can and I can’t. I can do this. I’m getting help on this. It’s not I can’t, it’s I’m getting help. Even now I’m still working on what to say when I talk to myself and I catch myself sometimes using those negative words rather than phrasing it in the way that I want it to be phrased.

Determined Traits

So as we’re talking about this lack of determination from last week and working on growing our skills this week, working on making our skills better this week, we want to think back to how that all goes. What do we know? What do we not know? What can we do? What are we asking questions for? Who can we go to for assistance? Who is the expert in my neighborhood that I can ask for help? Maybe you have a chef living right next door and they can give you some tips and pointers on how to better cook that dish you’re trying to learn.

Or maybe you’re just going to figure it out through trial and error, and that’s okay too because when you set your goal and you know what you want to accomplish and you know what you’re working towards, then you can keep putting in place all those little determined traits, not stubborn traits, determined traits.

And that’s what we want to grow within our students, our younger students, our youth, our teenagers, that type of ability to see what they can already do to help them do a jump spinning kick, or to help them learn to ride their bike or to help them when they’re 15, 16, learn how to drive a car.

What do they already know that can help them take it to the next level? That can help them accomplish what they set out to do? Because determination is what gets you to the end result of your goal. Determination is what helps you achieve what it is that you set out to achieve. It gives you a sense of pride, it gives you a sense of accomplishments. People around you recognize that you have accomplished something. They could be cheering you on, they could be giving you thumbs up, they could be giving you high-fives or hugs or tears of joy. But all of those things help us along the way to being determined.

And when we talk to ourselves positively, when we know that what we’re doing is good, when we put in that work, then we’re able to grow our determination so that the next time we’re faced with a difficult thing, we can look and say, “huh, that was just like when I was learning to cook. And I know what I can do to help myself learn how to bake a cake,” or learn how to… Whatever it might be next. Because that’s what it’s all about. Setting that goal, being determined to achieve it and growing as who we are.

Thanks, and I’ll see you on the mat!

True Balance Karate was founded in 2012 by Master Sue and Paul Helsdon.

We offer kids karate lessons for pre-school children ages 3-6 and elementary age kids ages 7 and up. These lessons are designed to develop the critical building blocks kids need — specialized for their age group — for school excellence and later success in life.

Our adult martial arts training is a complete adult fitness and conditioning program for adults who want to lose weight, get (and stay) in shape, or learn self-defense in a supportive environment.

Instructors can answer questions or be contacted 24 hours of the day, 7 days a week at 630-663-2000. You can also contact us here