Character Chats

Listening to New Ideas

Listening to new ideas

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 I have two master’s degrees in education. And together we’ve developed this curriculum to best meet the needs of our youngest students who are four to our oldest student who’s 85.

Open Mind, Open Ears

And this month we are talking about being open-minded. We started off defining what open-minded meant. And then last week we talked about trying new things. This week we’re talking about listening to new ideas. Everybody’s got new ideas. At one point, there were no light bulbs and now there’s light bulbs. At one point, there were no cell phones, and now we have cell phones.

There’s always new ideas being generated. There are always new ideas coming about. That’s kind of how we are. We’re inquisitive and we’re thoughtful and we brainstorm and we share, and we have conversations, and it leads to a different way of thinking.

Empty Your Cup

And when you’re open-minded, you wind up being open to new ideas. You wind up having conversations and asking questions, and it starts with an empty cup.

So whenever Master Helsdon and I go to Master’s camp, one of the first things that we are reminded of is to empty our cups. Because we all come in with knowledge that we have, we all come in with skills that we have, we all come in with ideas that we have. And in order to really listen, in order to really learn from each other, we need to empty the cup so that we can share, so that we can learn, so we can grow together. And it’s a good reminder for everybody when it comes to being open-minded, because when the cup is full, nothing else can go in it. It leaves us very closed off. When the cup is empty, we can fill it with other ideas and other thoughts.

Listening to Friends

And so even with our youngest students, two friends get together, one figured they were going to play board games, and the other figured they were going to go outside and jump on the trampoline. And now it’s okay, which ideas, the one we want to do because it’s new ideas to both of them. And that was what they wanted to do. How do we compromise, how do we have an open mind, how do we decide which way it’s going to go first as adults.

When we see that happening with the young students, that’s our opportunity to teach them how to problem-solve, how to listen to each other, how to come up with a compromise. Well, we’re here for an hour. Let’s do this for half an hour and this for half an hour. Or let’s do all of this now because it’s a bright, sunny day. And then when it’s raining, we’ll get back together and we’ll do games then. So teaching them how to listen to each other and come up with a compromise and problem-solve is an open-minded kind of skill that we all need to have.

Teamwork and Open-Mindedness

Also, another way of looking at it is thinking about it from a standpoint of us as adults. We’re at work working together as a team on a specific project, and I have a way of looking at it and how I want to go about fixing it, and my coworker has a different way of doing it. And how do we determine whose way is better, more efficient, the way to go about doing it. I mean, neither one of them is wrong, I don’t think, depends on the project that we’re talking about. But if both of them are a way of looking at the problem, how do we go about working towards the same common goal.

And so, as we’re listening to new ideas, as we’re trying new things, when we have that open-minded attitude, when we have that open-minded thought process, we’re coming at it with an empty cup, we’re looking at it from the standpoint of asking each other questions and coming up with the best solutions as we go along. Because at the end of the day, the best way to demonstrate our open-mindedness is to listen to each other, to learn from each other, and then decide what the best course of action is.

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