Character Chats

How do we learn to adapt?

Here at True Balance Karate in Downers Grove, Illinois, we have a social emotional learning program called True Character.

I’m Master H, owner and head instructor here at the studio. I have two master’s degrees in education, one of them having to do with curriculum adaptations. We have designed our curriculum here at the studio to meet the needs of anybody who walks through our doors.

Our youngest student is 3, and our oldest is 83. Every time we talk about words like adaptability, we make sure that it is in the right context for the age level in front of us. We wouldn’t explain it to an adult the same way we would explain it to a five year old.

Unstick goals by adapting

This month we are talking about adaptability.

In January, we talked about goal setting. We set our goals. We made our smart goals. We decided on a path of what we were wanting to achieve.

Then in February we talked about discipline and how our discipline plays a role in achieving those goals.

This month, we’re wrapping up the whole idea of goal setting with adaptability, because we are going to hit a plateau with our goals. We are going to get stuck with our goals.

Sometime in the achievement of our goals, we are going to need to adapt or modify what we are doing to achieve them. And that is why we were talking about adaptability here in March.

Be open to learning from others

How do we learn to adapt? Well, it starts in the mind. You must have an open mind. You must be willing to learn from anyone.

When our kids are in school, they have a new teacher every year. In kindergarten, it’s one teacher. In first grade, it’s another. Second grade, it’s another.

My son was blessed. He had the same teacher in a row in third and fourth grade, which was a fantastic teacher for him to have, because he’s a little bit of a class clown. And they had built up enough of a rapport that he could weather third and fourth grade without being a distraction to other students around him.

But at the same time, he also had other people, such as librarians and substitute teachers, that he got to learn from.

The way they did fourth grade was that they went to a different teacher’s room for social studies or math. So he got to have the experience of learning from other people.

The more we can teach our kids to be open-minded, to think about things, to breathe and just assess and ask them “Who did you learn from today?” and “What did they teach you?”, the more we can demonstrate those open-minded attitudes. And the more we are setting a great visual representation of adaptability.

We learn from many different people

Adaptability is the willingness and ability to change. And yes, we will learn from so many different people in our lifetimes.

Here at the studio, we have our black belts that we can learn from. But every time I am teaching the black belts, I am reminding them that they’re able to learn from our youngest rank and our youngest age student, because we all have the ability to teach each other something by how we understand it, by how we express it, and by how we physically do the skills.

We all have this ability to learn from each other. When our kids in school are working with other students on a group project, if they have the right mindset that they can learn from each other as they put the group project together, then they’re demonstrating some adaptability.

When they are demonstrating partner work here in the studio and they’re using different partners (and we rotate partners a lot), they’re getting an opportunity to learn from each other. They’re getting an opportunity to explain the skill to different people in different ways.

All of this plays a role in how we learn to adapt.

Ask questions to learn from each other

We want to think about the fact that we can learn from anybody.

Our oldest student can teach us. Our youngest student can teach us. Our oldest rank student can teach us. Our rank student can teach us.

When our teachers are in school, they’re watching their students and they’re learning. They’re learning what they know so that they can better teach them future skills. They’re learning where the gaps are so they can fill in those gaps.

As adults, we can learn from each other. Instead of asking questions like a preacher or a prosecutor, ask them like a scientist. Ask questions like, “Well, how do you know that?” or “Please explain it to me.”

Ask open-ended questions and open-minded questions. That’s how we can learn and grow together. That’s how we can adapt.

Who can help you?

As you look back at what you decided in January were your goals, where are you now stuck?

Who’s a resource you can go to to help you move past whatever you happen to be stuck with in relation to your goal?

Are you working towards getting straight As in school and your resource is go going to the teacher that you have a B in to get extra help?

Is your goal to lose weight so you are going to go talk with a nutrition coach? Or are you going to look up some videos on YouTube or recipes for healthier meals?

I personally have found that I love cauliflower rice, and that was not something that I loved before. My goal has been to eat healthier and have more vegetables in my diet. I’ve found that by substituting cauliflower rice when I make fried rice at home has been a way for me to get additional vegetables.

These types of open-minded “let’s try it and see where it goes” attitudes help us become adaptable.

We encourage our kids to try new foods. I have a 16 year old and a 13 year old, and yes I agree it is difficult to get them to try new foods at times.

But adaptability and trying new foods are similar ideas — having that open-mindedness, giving them an option to try it just once to see if they like it, having that opportunity to show that we all get to try new things. We all get to adapt.

As we continue through this month of adaptability, we also have to look back at our goals and think about who can we learn from — who can we go to for answers to help us be more adaptable? Because that’s how we learn to adapt.

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.