Character Chats

When does adapting become harmful?

Here at True Balance Karate in Downers Grove, Illinois, we have a character development program called True Character.

I’m Master H, Owner and Head Instructor here at the studio. I have two master’s degrees in education, and we’ve designed our curriculum to meet the needs of everyone that walks through our doors.

Our youngest student is three and our oldest is 83. As we are talking about adaptability this month, we make sure that how we talk about it with the younger kids and how we talk about it with the older kids is actually adapted.

Adapting helps achieve goals

In January, we talked about goal setting and creating a smart goal — and what we need to do to achieve that goal.

In February, we talked about discipline and what it took to meet that goal, our wants, and our won’ts — what won’t we do so that we don’t get in our own way?

And now we’re talking about adaptability because as we are attempting to achieve those goals.

As we are positively working towards those goals, we are going to have to adapt. We are going to have to make changes.

Sometimes adapting can become harmful

What I want to talk about today is: what happens when adapting becomes harmful?

How does that look? What happens at that moment in time?

It could look like stubbornness. Are you so stubborn that you won’t bend to anyone else’s ideas? Have you created a goal and then you’ve gotten advice, but you think you know better so you’re not going to take their advice — even though they may be an expert in their field?

When we give up our own values — or our own set of what we find important — that’s when adapting becomes harmful.

For example, it can be when we find ourselves lying or stealing because we’ve bowed to peer pressure. In this case, we’ve adapted so that our friends like us but now we are doing things that are harmful for us.

Know what you stand for

We want to make sure that as we are working on our willingness to change, as we make changes, those changes are positive ones. We want to make sure those changes are going to have a good impact in our lives.

Alexander Hamilton said, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” As we adapt and talk with others, as we have that open mind where we’re willing to learn from others, we need to stand for something. And we need to know what that something is so that we don’t give into peer pressure and do something that could be harmful.

I’m thinking about the time that I was always saying, “Yes.” I had joined a PTA, and I was also active in our martial arts community. Plus, I was also active trying to run for the school board and I found myself saying, “Yes.”

I was adapting to many situations around me, saying “yes” to so many things around me thinking that I was having a positive impact on the multitude of things that I had agreed to.

Now that I’m here, I can look back and see that I may have had a positive impact there but I was having a negative impact on myself.

I was tired. I was stressed. I was becoming disorganized. I was losing focus. I felt like I was everywhere and nowhere at the same time.

Stay true to your values

As we work on our adaptability, as we are working on our willingness to change.

Your goal may be to work on your willingness to change how you view the world. Or perhaps your goal is to work on your willingness to get stronger, to work on your martial arts technique, or to get straight As at school.

Whatever it may be, as you’re putting in the effort and as you’re seeing the plateaus and working to move past them with your own adaptability, you need to make sure that you are staying true to your values, your morals, your ideas, and the things that make you who you are. This way you can continue on a positive path and not a harmful path.

If that means having more conversations with the people that care about you, then that’s what we do. Because at the end of the day, we want to continue to foster those relationships that help all of us grow.

Don’t harm your relationships

In last week’s video, we talked about how we can learn from anyone.

Our black belts learn from our white belts when they listen to how the white belts explain something to them. And our white belts explain things to our black belts and then they get to understand how the black belts are teaching it to them.

I personally, having been a classroom teacher for 15 years, know that I can with an open mind learn from anyone. I didn’t say I liked everything that they shared, but I can take a nugget from everyone and learn one small tidbit about something from those around me.

As we move through adaptability, we need to remember that while we’re learning we can’t get so stuck in our ways.

We don’t want to be so stubborn, so unwilling to bend, that it becomes harmful to our relationships. When you are no longer the person that apologizes, now you are harming your relationship.

When you bow to peer pressure, you might find that some of your other friends walk away because they don’t recognize you anymore.

So as you adapt, make sure that you are staying true to those values, those morals, those ideals that you hold true that make you who you are, as well as working towards making yourself a better person.

Thanks, and we’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.