TGJ: Courtesy on the Bridge by Marty Callahan

Tiger’s Great Journey Continued…

An Adventure Story for Youth Who Want to Make the World a Better Place

The air grew crisp as Tiger and Blake set out across a great forest at the top of the cliff on
which Tiger had discovered his courage. As they hiked silently up the sloping terrain of the
woods, Tiger enjoyed a sense of wonder about the towering trees, the colorful plants beneath them, and the birds and mammals he knew were watching as they walked gently and with great respect through the animals’ home.

Tiger carried the map that he had found with him. It was safely tucked away in his pack
in the pouch he had found it in. Just before starting this leg of their journey, he had referred to it and was using it as a guide. His destination was Ryoku Mountain and the Temple of the Clouds.

They trekked for miles through the forest until the trees gave way to a rocky and steep
plateau. As they passed the last of the trees, Tiger turned and bowed to the majestic forest they’d moved safely through. Blake giggled to see Tiger bowing to trees. He knew that this journey was not just important to Tiger, but it had totally consumed him. To Tiger becoming a Black Belt Shoka Leader was the most important thing he could possibly do with his life. It gave him a sense of order and purpose, and it made him feel connected to something bigger than himself. Nothing was going to stop him from getting to the top of Ryoku Mountain and the Temple of the Clouds. This was not an ordinary hike; it was a spiritual quest. Tiger was finding himself—who he was meant to be. He had seen so many people suffer because of problems in the world, and he wanted to play a role in finding a solution to at least some of those problems. But he knew that no one would pay attention to him as he was, so he would have to become someone greater. This journey would enable him to do that. It would transform him into the leader he was called to be.

Blake looked at the forest and saw the beauty and vastness that Tiger saw. He became
aware that all people rely on the wonders of nature, which must be respected. Tiger bowed again to the forest, took one last look at the explosion of life beneath the trees, and then turned and motioned to Blake to move on.

They walked for hours across the rocks, stopping now and again to rest or to scoop cool,
clear water from natural basins in the stone. Tiger became aware that he was able to walk farther and farther without resting, and that the muscles of his legs were becoming stronger. He liked the way his body felt as he and Blake climbed toward a high point. He wondered what awaited them on the other side.

When they crested the stony point, Tiger couldn’t believe his eyes. The land fell off
sharply into a great, deep canyon. “How will we ever cross it?” he asked. Blake raised a hand to point off to their right. “We’ll cross there,” he said. Tiger squinted and searched, and at last noticed what appeared to be a fine line across the top of the canyon. As they walked closer to it, Tiger could see that it was a narrow, rope walking bridge suspended high above the canyon floor. Noticing how it swayed in the breeze made Tiger feel uneasy.

When the two of them reached the beginning of the footbridge, Tiger realized that
because the bridge was so narrow, they would have no choice but to cross it single-file. The
flimsy bridge looked to be a mile long and a thousand feet above the canyon. The thought of
crossing it made him tremble. He was reminded again of something simple that Sensei had told him: “stay focused.” In this situation, he knew the goal was to get to the other side. This was simple to understand but very, very difficult to do.

Without looking down, Tiger gazed across the bridge and then placed his right foot
lightly on the first ancient plank. As he did, it dropped just enough to frighten him. He glanced back at Blake who was close behind. Blake had seen what had happened and nodded at Tiger to let him know that he was with him.

The bridge, which was made entirely of rope except for the wooden planks, swung a bit
to the left and then to the right, causing Tiger to grip the rope rails for dear life. He got a queasy feeling in his stomach and knew that he couldn’t look down. He focused his attention on the task before him and quieted his fears.

“Look straight ahead,” Tiger said to Blake. “Feel the strength of the bridge. It will move,
but it will not break. Stay focused on taking one step at a time.” Tiger didn’t know how he knew this, but he just knew it to be true.

He took a deep breath and felt his tense muscles relax a bit. Rather than tense up with
every motion of the bridge, he began to move in harmony with it. His fear gave way to an intense appreciation of the fine old bridge and the fantastic canyon below.

But what was this? Gazing far ahead, he saw that at the other end a large group of people
were moving single-file onto the bridge. Had the people not noticed him and Blake? The bridge was so narrow that it would be impossible for the two parties to pass. He and Blake had come so far, and they had started across long before the other group. Tiger decided to keep going and hoped the strangers would back off when they realized they had entered a bridge that was already in use and that they should have waited for him and Blake to make it all the way across.

The large group stopped. Tiger thought this was strange, but they were still too far away
for him to make out what they were doing. It appeared that most just stood and waited, while two or three people in the back knelt on the bridge. In time, the entire group began moving again, slowly, toward Tiger and Blake.

At last, the two parties moved close enough together for Tiger to see that a tall, powerful looking man was in front of what appeared to be several families whose members, old and young, carried trunks and cases and baskets. They seemed to be crossing the bridge while
weighed down with everything they owned in the world.

When Tiger and Blake drew close, he thought again about how far they had come and
how they could make it across the bridge in only a few minutes—if there was not this long line of people in front of them.

Tiger noticed that the man who appeared to be the leader wore a scowl on his face. He
ordered his people to stop. Then he shouted to Tiger and Blake, “Halt!” They stopped about
thirty feet from him. The man signaled to three young men, who carried swords and looked to be warriors, and the four of them stepped forward on the heavily burdened, swaying bridge.

Tiger was worried. These strangers looked mean, and there was no room on this bridge
for a fight. The leader had a red face and appeared angry as his men stepped up and stopped only a few feet away. Tiger greeted them with a deep, respectful bow. Why he did that he didn’t know, but it seemed like the right thing to do. At the same time, he watched them closely.

The strangers appeared to be surprised by Tiger’s bow, and the leader bowed slightly in
return; his warriors did the same. Then the leader stiffened his back and barked, “Go back, or prepare to fight. My people need to cross this bridge, and you are in our way.”

Tiger spoke to him calmly. “But we entered the bridge long before you did and only have
a short distance to go.”

“Silence!” the leader shouted as his warriors squeezed the grips of their swords. “We
have no time for this! We were forced to leave our village, and now we are escaping a fearsome enemy. We could not wait for you to pass over the bridge and are placing ourselves in peril while stopping to talk to you. Back off the bridge, or prepare to die!”

Tiger thought the pounding of his heart would split open his chest, but he bowed again,
this time lowering his eyes to the strangers’ feet. Then he spoke. “We are in no hurry to cross this bridge, but there is a great urgency in your crossing. So we will turn back and, if you so permit, to allow you to move more quickly, we will help your people carry their belongings.”

With those words, the looks on the strangers’ faces softened. The leader shook his head in
amazement. “You are kind; thank you. Please forgive my behavior, but we are weary and are in fear of our lives. We will be grateful for your help in getting across the bridge.” With that, he and his men bowed.

Seeming to remember something, the leader added, “We stopped a while back to loosen
some of the planks on the bridge to slow our enemy. I do not want for you to be hurt, so when we get to the other side, I will have a couple of our young men accompany you to the loosened planks and ensure that you cross them safely.”

“Many thanks to you,” Tiger said.

Blake and Tiger walked toward the fleeing people, hoisted two heavy trunks onto their
shoulders, turned around, and carried the trunks clear to the end of the bridge where they had started.

When everyone reached that side, the leader thanked Tiger and Blake again and wished
them a safe journey. The two boys, in turn, wished them the same and said they hoped the people would find a better, safer place to live. The two groups parted as friends.

Tiger, Blake, and two young warriors then set out once again across the bridge with the
warriors in the lead. From having walked back and forth along the bridge, Tiger and Blake now had their “legs” and could move fast without the fear of slipping. When they got to the loosened planks, the warriors made sure that Tiger and Blake crossed safely before heading back to catch up with their people.

Once they made it to the end of the bridge, Blake sighed deeply. “I thought we were
going to have to fight out there,” he said.

Tiger replied, “Sensei told me that sometimes there is no avoiding a fight. But most of the
time, we can use our training and our intelligence to prevent violence.”

“Like you did when you bowed,” Blake said. “I could see that the stranger, who was very
angry, started to calm down when you honored him in that way. And he changed completely
when you offered our help in carrying their possessions.”

“We learned an important lesson about courtesy today, Blake, one that we will probably
have to use often on this journey.”

“It looks like courtesy is our first line of self defense. That simple show of respect turned
a potential enemy into a friend. What could be better than that?” observed Blake.

Tiger told Blake that they should move out of sight, because the enemies the fleeing
people feared were probably on their way. From the bridge, they headed off to the left and up a gentle slope to nearby hills. Safely out of view, Tiger and Blake could see a small band of warriors far to the south making their way to the footbridge. They were carrying swords, staffs, and clubs, and they jogged in tight formation. Even from this distance, Tiger and Blake could hear the pounding of their feet. The boys knew that they were not to be trifled with. After watching for a while, they looked at the map.

“Wow, Blake!” Tiger said excitedly. “There’s an image now of a person bowing on the
map above the footbridge and the word COURTESY.”

“This map is so cool!”

Tiger smiled his agreement and then carefully folded the parchment and placed it back in
its pouch. He knew this was no ordinary map.


Marty Callahan has spent his life understanding and improving the lives of students both young and old.  His passion led to the founding of Shotokan Karate Leadership School in Santa Rosa, CA in 1981, with a dream to awaken the extraordinary leader in his students. Having inspired, taught, coached, supported, and trained over 15,000 students in 40,000 classes in Santa Rosa, Marty has become Sonoma County’s preeminent martial arts leadership instructor. His students, hundreds of whom have gone on to become leaders in their chosen fields, appreciate his engaging, student centered approach to teaching and they believe you will too.

TGJ Continued: The Book of the Empty Mind by Marty Callahan

An Adventure Story for Youth Who Want to Make the World a Better Place

The Book of the Empty Mind 

In his imagination, Tiger had just finished practicing karate on the beach and was
walking along the waterline with his parents. They had walked for about a half hour, combing the beach for whatever they could find, when he saw an old man sitting very still in seiza, Tiger wasn’t sure if he had seen the man before, but he looked vaguely familiar. And seeing someone at the beach sitting in seiza was unusual, so it attracted Tiger’s attention.

As they got closer, Tiger could not help but look at him. He was sitting perfectly still, like
a statue. When he was close enough to see the old man’s face, Tiger was surprised to see that he was Japanese.

“Hello,” said the old man, and with that Tiger jumped. He wasn’t expecting him to speak.

Tiger recovered and then answered, “Hello, how are you?”

“I’m fine,” said the old man, “and how are you and your parents?”

Tiger’s dad said, “Fine, thanks. Come along, Tiger, let’s leave the gentleman alone.”

The old man said, “It’s no bother. I’m just taking a break from reading my book.”

When he said this, Tiger noticed a large, very old looking book in his lap.

“My name’s Tiger. What’s your name?”

The old man didn’t answer for a moment and then said, “I once had a name, but now
people just call me the Old Man.”

Tiger found this odd, and he asked him what he was reading.

Tiger’s dad said, “Tiger, don’t wear out your welcome.” To the Old Man, he said, “Sir,
my son could talk to you all day. Is it all right if he spends some time with you?”

The Old Man looked at Tiger and then looked at his dad, “Yes, I’m sure we’ll have a
delightful conversation.”

Tiger’s dad told Tiger they’d be leaving in twenty minutes. Tiger’s parents wandered
down the beach, laid out their blanket, and sat down. They were close enough to see, but not so close to hear the conversation Tiger was having with the Old Man.

Tiger asked the lingering question again, “What are you reading?”

“Why don’t you sit down,” replied the Old Man.

Tiger sat across from him.

“This book is quite old and very special. But first, tell me about your Shotokan Karate

Tiger looked at the Old Man with genuine surprise. “How do you know I practice
Shotokan Karate?”

The Old Man didn’t answer at first. Then he turned his head towards Tiger and said, “I
saw you.”

This confused Tiger, because where he had been practicing was a good half-mile from
here, so the Old Man could not have possibly seen him.

“Tiger,” began the Old Man, “what we see with our eyes is merely the surface of all there
is to see. I am sure that your sensei has talked to you about the empty mind?”

Tiger nodded.

“When you learn to empty your mind, you will see things that cannot be seen, you will
hear things that cannot be heard, you will smell things that cannot be smelled, you will taste
things that cannot be tasted, you will touch things that cannot be touched, and you will
experience things that others will never experience. You will come to know beauty and truth in a way that a common man cannot possibly know,” the Old Man said, as he continued to sit quietly.

“The teachers who told me this gave me this book. They knew that it would take a
lifetime to learn all there is from karate.”

Tiger was about to ask a question when the Old Man lifted his index finger as if to signal
to wait.

“I began my journey over one hundred years ago, and my teachers began their journey
one hundred years before that and their teachers one hundred years before that. Our history
extends back thousands and millions of years to the dawn of man.”

Tiger could no longer contain himself. “I’m studying to be a Black Belt Shoka Leader,”
he blurted out.

“I know,” said the Old Man.

Tiger sat for a moment to let this new information sink in. He was full of questions, but
he remembered one of the first lessons Sensei had taught him about self-control. Sensei had said, “When you are full of questions, stop and wait until your thoughts have settled and then ask the right question.”

Tiger let his thoughts settle and then asked, “Did you come here to see me today?”

The Old Man replied, “Yes and no. I came today, because I felt in my heart that it was
important to be here, but I didn’t know that I would meet you.”

Tiger smiled.

“Tiger, a few minutes ago we spoke of the empty mind. You will find, as you continue
with your training, that mastering this will be very important. As a youth who has just begun his journey to become a Black Belt Shoka Leader, you must realize that it is very difficult to clear away the thoughts in your head. But at the same time, it must be done.”

“Now,” said the Old Man “let’s talk about this book. It is called, The Book of the Empty
Mind. As I mentioned, it was given to me by my teachers, and it is a priceless resource for the person studying to become a Black Belt Shoka Leader. To use this book you must open your mind and become quiet inside. The experiences you will have will be quite vivid, so keep your spirit strong.”

Tiger asked, “What are the journeys you’ve taken? How do you know where you will go?
Will I take the same journeys you took?”

The Old Man smiled; he saw the same excitement and enthusiasm in Tiger, which he had
experienced when he first found out about the book.

“The journey one takes when reading the Book of the Empty Mind is different for every
person, Tiger. The book will show you things that will be important on your journey. Where you go will have a lot to do with where you are. Every student needs to learn different lessons to become a Black Belt Shoka Leader.

“And to answer your final question, yes, in the proper time you will be able to use the
Book of the Empty Mind. But first we must discuss the concepts you must learn to be able to use a powerful tool like this.”

The waves broke calmly and steadily on the shore, as the Old Man took a meaningful

“Responsibility,” the Old Man continued, “is an important lesson to be learned from this
book. I must impress upon you, Tiger, that it is irresponsible to misuse this book. So here are the rules.

“First, you must learn the lessons meant for you from this book. The lessons are for the
person to whom the book is given. This rule is drawn from the Dojo Creed, Seek Perfection of Character, and it will challenge you immensely. Second, when you are called to, and you will know when the time has come, you must pass the book along. If you refuse, you will have broken the faith of the Black Belt Shoka Leader. This rule is drawn from the Dojo Creed, Be Faithful. You must complete the circle. Third, you must continue on despite whatever obstacles you might face, and you must share what you have learned with others. This lesson is drawn from the Dojo Creed, Endeavor. Fourth, you must recognize others for the contributions they make to your life. This is drawn from the Dojo Creed, Respect Others.”

At about this time, a strong wind began to blow sand across the shore directly towards the
Old Man and Tiger, but it circled around them, as though an invisible barrier surrounded and protected them. “And fifth, to harm others on a journey is never allowed. As Black Belt Shoka Leaders, we train to stop conflict, and you must exercise this principle as you find your way back from your journeys. This rule is drawn from the Dojo Creed, Refrain from Violent Behavior, and so you must strive to control your mind, body, and spirit in all situations.”

The Old Man paused and looked deep into Tiger’s eyes. Tiger felt an enormous strength
and resolve coming from the Old Man, and it took a major effort on Tiger’s part to hold his gaze. Tiger knew, then and there, that he was in the company of a true Black Belt Shoka Leader. It made him want this for himself even more than before. He understood how important it was for him to take this journey and become someone greater than he was right now.

Tiger was pulled out of his encounter with the Old Man by his father’s voice in the distance. “Tiger, it’s time to go. Let the gentleman get back to his reading.”

“Okay, Dad,” Tiger called out.

As he turned back to the Old Man, Tiger noticed how serene he seemed. The Old Man
smiled and spoke, “Tiger, I must ask you two very important questions: First, are you prepared to take on the responsibility of being a Black Belt Shoka Leader?”

Tiger didn’t hesitate. “Yes!” he replied.

“And, second, are you ready to commit all that you have to become a Black Belt Shoka

Again, Tiger’s answer was “Yes!”

Tiger looked at the Old Man. Until this day Tiger had not completely understood the
commitment it would take to become a Black Belt Shoka Leader. But now he knew, and he made up his mind to make that commitment.

The Old Man picked the book up and held it in his hands. It had become a prized possession for him.

“Tiger, there is only one page in this book with writing on it. That page is inscribed with
the 12 Traits of a Black Belt Shoka Leader. They are Courage, Courtesy, Integrity, Humility,
Self-Control, Trust, Endeavor, Responsibility, Cooperation, Justice, Compassion, and
Creativity. These are the guideposts on your journey to become a Black Belt Shoka Leader; be mindful of them. The rest of the book is empty like the Empty Mind. It is your job to fill this book with the story of your journey as a Black Belt Shoka Leader. The book is large and thick to remind you to live a large, productive life and to make a difference in the world by bringing positive change through your leadership. The book is heavy to remind you of the weight of responsibility that comes with being a Black Belt Shoka Leader. Remind yourself of this every day as you use it as a vehicle for your Great Journey.”

The Old Man handed the Book of the Empty Mind to Tiger, who, upon accepting it,
became very much aware of the grave responsibility the Old Man had given him.

Tiger looked at the Old Man and bowed deeply.

Tiger said, “It’s time for me to go. Thank you very much for your words and this book.”

The Old Man nodded.

Tiger stood up, backed up two steps, and looked again at the Old Man who was smiling
at him. He was certain that he had seen him before, but he couldn’t place where or when. The Old Man then spoke for the last time. “Your sensei is a wise and capable man; listen to him carefully.”

Tiger smiled and turned and ran over to where his parents were waiting, somewhat
impatiently. As they started to walk in the direction of the car, he showed them the book the Old Man had given him.

They all turned back to wave at the Old Man, but he was nowhere in sight. “Where did he
go?” his mom said.

Tiger said nothing and felt the weight of the book as he held it tightly. He looked forward
to his Great Journey.


Marty Callahan has spent his life understanding and improving the lives of students both young and old. His passion led to the founding of Shotokan Karate Leadership School in Santa Rosa, CA in 1981 with a dream to awaken the extraordinary leader in his students. Having inspired, taught, coached, supported, and trained over 15,000 students in 40,000 classes in Santa Rosa, Marty has become Sonoma County’s preeminent martial arts leadership instructor. His students, hundreds of whom have gone on to become leaders in their chosen fields, appreciate his engaging, student centered approach to teaching and they believe you will too.


How to Raise a Kid Who Won’t Quit

By Hank Pellissier

Persistence is a hot topic among education researchers these days and for good
reason: It’s critical for success in school and beyond. Here are 8 tips for nurturing
this quality in your child.

Determined, diligent, tenacious, persistent — we use these adjectives to describe
Olympians, spelling bee champions, entrepreneurs, and success stories of all
kinds. Do they describe your child?

Angela Duckworth, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, brought this
stick-to-it quality to the attention of educators and the public with her 2013 book
Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. Gritty people, Duckworth’s
research shows, finish what they start, overcome obstacles, and achieve their

Researchers continue to examine how so-called “soft,” non-cognitive skills like
grit affect academic success as it becomes increasingly clear that these qualities
are even more predictive of achievement than intelligence or talent. While there’s
still much to learn about teaching kids to buckle down and work hard, research
suggests there are lots of ways parents can support the development of this
mindset. Here are eight ways to nurture grit in your child over time.

1. Let Them Play
Just like adults, kids tend to work harder when they love what they’re doing.
What’s the best way to help your child discover what they’re passionate about?
Let them explore freely and widely. “Before those who’ve yet to fix on a passion
are ready to spend hours a day diligently honing skills, they must goof around,
triggering and retriggering interest,” writes Duckworth in Grit. Exploring the world
through family outings, media, exhibits, new people, and extracurricular clubs,
classes, and lessons can spark lifelong interests. To form an enduring passion,
Duckworth claims, that first spark of interest needs to be followed by many
subsequent encounters that will trigger and retrigger your child’s attention. So if
your child’s curiosity is piqued by any topic from acrobatics to zoology, you can
support their nascent interest by offering additional exposure to that subject. Note
that this does not mean packing your child’s every waking moment with
scheduled activity; make sure they have plenty of (screen-free) downtime to fill
with self-chosen projects of creative discovery.

2. Help Them Practice Self-Control

Self-control is the quality that comes into play when your child has two possible
actions to choose from, one that promises immediate pleasure, the other not as
pleasurable in the moment but that serves a more distant goal. Post to Instagram
or practice piano? Play a video game or study for a math test? Perhaps not
surprisingly, self-control is closely related to the ability to work toward a goal over
time. Studies have shown that higher levels of self-control early in life predict how
well kids do academically, as well as a host of other positive outcomes including
adult earnings, savings, and physical health. While researchers aren’t clear
exactly how self-control and grit are related (it’s possible to have one without the
other), the good news is that self-control can be learned. Playing games like Red
Light, Green Light and Simon Says, rewarding kids for delayed gratification,
making sure kids get enough sleep, and limiting their TV-watching are all
associated with helping kids develop the ability to control their impulses, which
may translate to an ability later to resist the siren call of their smartphone and
focus on that history essay.

3. Aim High
Many studies have shown that kids work harder and do better when their teacher
has high expectations for them. Parental expectations matter, too. High achievers
who persevere in the face of challenges tend to come from families with high
standards for their academic success and a home environment that supports
learning. Healthy achievement doesn’t arise simply out of high expectations but,
paradoxically, out of feeling secure, notes Diana Divecha, developmental
psychologist and researcher with the Yale Center for Emotional
Intelligence. “Opportunities to stretch, opportunities to be trusted and respected,
and the experience of being supported when necessary all help to foster a child’s
belief in success. And of course keep your priorities straight and reassure them
of your love no matter the outcome,” she says.

4. Praise the Process
If you want to raise a kid who is eager to take on challenges and is not deterred
by obstacles, don’t praise him for being smart; it may make him reluctant to try
something harder for fear that if he fails, it will reveal that he isn’t so smart after
all. The research of Stanford psychology professor Carol Dweck, author of
Mindset: the New Psychology of Success, shows that when children are praised
for their intelligence or talents, they avoid challenges and are less resilient in the
face of difficulty. But when children are praised for hard work that paid off, they
are more likely to seek out challenges and keep going when things get tough.
They are more motivated, more persistent, and more successful. Switching from
person-praise to process-praise is easy: just refer to what the child did, not who
they are. Compliment the carefulness of the sewing project, the gutsy attentiveness displayed in the basketball game, the well-organized time
management used in studying for the final exam.

5. Encourage Goals Big and Small
Helping your child set short-, medium-, and long-term goals that resonate with
their personal values and interests can teach them persistence, according to
Duckworth in Grit. An example of a short-term goal for your sixth grade daughter
might be an A on her science final, a medium-term goal could be winning a
medal in a city or state science fair and a long-term goal would be receiving a
science scholarship to attend college. Your child’s goals should be in what
educators call the “optimal zone” — not too easy, not too hard, but just right.
Research shows that hard goals can help your child focus their attention, work
harder, and develop strategic thinking. But if a goal is so difficult that it’s beyond
their ability to achieve, they may be setting themselves up for anxiety.

6. Extracurriculars Help
Activities outside of regular school hours, such as sports, drama, debate, Scouts,
or music, are a great context for learning how to work hard at something over
time. New York Times columnist Bruce Feiler, author of The Secrets of Happy
Families, writes that Michelle Obama made each of her daughters take up two
sports — one she chose and one they chose, so that they would have the
experience of working at something they may not necessarily like and seeing
improvement. Research shows that students who participate in extracurricular
activities get better grades and have higher self-esteem, lower rates of
depression, and lower dropout rates than students who don’t. Kids who devote
more than one year to the same activity are more likely to graduate from college;
and sticking with the same activity for two years or more increases their odds of
employment soon after college.

7. Imagine That
When it comes to developing tenacity, studies show that visualizing a future goal
— and the potential obstacles to achieving it — really works. In one study, high
school students were instructed to imagine a desired future outcome and then
visualize possible obstacles to that outcome. The exercise improved high school
students’ persistence in studying for the PSAT. In another study, kids were asked
were asked to visualize a possible adult version of themselves. Next they listed
positive and negative forces that could help or derail their progress toward
becoming that person, along with strategies for success. Two years later,
students who had participated in the exercise spent more time on their homework
and had higher GPAs than kids in the control group. Our takeaway? When kids
spend time visualizing where they want to be and how they’ll get there, they’re
more likely to work hard.

8. Do a Style Check
How would you describe your parenting style? Permissive? Hands-off?
Authoritarian? Research suggests that your parenting style can affect how
determined your child is.
Spoiler alert: An authoritative parenting style, one that’s firm yet warm, seems to
be the sweet spot. Myriad studies indicate that kids with authoritative parents
have more positive outcomes, from less drug use to greater well-being. And
research suggests that the authoritative style, with its high expectations and high
responsiveness, has the greatest effect on academic success. Authoritarian
parents may make more decisions for their child, while permissive parents may
lean toward letting kids figure it out on their own — in both cases, missing
opportunities to help kids learn how to make good decisions. An authoritative
parenting style is one that guides — children of authoritative parents are
instructed to think carefully, weighing their options and consequences. These children obtain an advantage in developing self-confidence, willpower, and self-discipline — qualities associated with a gritty character.


Marty Callahan has spent his life understanding and improving the lives of students both young and old. His passion led to the founding of Shotokan Karate Leadership School in Santa Rosa, CA in 1981 with a dream to awaken the extraordinary leader in his students. Having inspired, taught, coached, supported, and trained over 15,000 students in 40,000 classes in Santa Rosa, Marty has become Sonoma County’s preeminent martial arts leadership instructor. His students, hundreds of whom have gone on to become leaders in their chosen fields, appreciate his engaging, student centered approach to teaching and they believe you will too.



Marty Callahan has spent his life understanding and improving the lives of students both young and old. His passion led to the founding of Shotokan Karate Leadership School in Santa Rosa, CA in 1981 with a dream to awaken the extraordinary leader in his students. Having inspired, taught, coached, supported, and trained over 15,000 students in 40,000 classes in Santa Rosa, Marty has become Sonoma County’s preeminent martial arts leadership instructor. His students, hundreds of whom have gone on to become leaders in their chosen fields, appreciate his engaging, student centered approach to teaching and they believe you will too.

Courage: The Cure for Complacency

You were born with courage. It was always with you as a small child when you were naturally curious and  always pushed to see what you were capable of. 

When it came time to walk you didn’t question it, you tried many times, and often falling until you got it right.  You always ventured beyond what you were comfortable with and or thought was safe. After learning to  walk, what did you do? You took it in stride and then began to look around for the next new adventure…  running, climbing trees, and eventually riding a bike. All things that required attempts, failures, and many  retries before finally succeeding. 

You will still make mistakes in life, it is guaranteed. So how is it that after childhood and learning the  elementary things in life, like walking, that you became afraid of mistakes and failure? Why not choose to start  thinking of mistakes as a feedback mechanism? Look at mistakes with the attitude of “Great! What can I learn  from this?” This is how you live a courageous life because in order for us to feel alive, we need to strive. 

Be willing to fail and to learn. Be brave enough to break away from the pack. Confidence comes from a  strong sense of self-worth. Instead of seeking that validation from others, start to validate yourself instead. 

Rise to the occasion when new opportunities and challenges are presented to you. Believe in yourself and  enjoy the satisfaction of learning new skills and mastering them. Complacency is when you stand still and do  nothing but when you are willing to risk failure and embrace new challenges life becomes very fulfilling. 

As you progress, never forget to celebrate your wins, no matter how small. If you are going to focus on what  you did wrong at least be willing to balance that out by looking at what you did right. 

Let go of the need to be perfect. It’s never going to happen. The need to be perfect only drives fear into the  moment. When the time comes to execute at a decisive point you will balk if you fear being less than perfect.  Strive for excellence, always, but let go of your need to be perfect. 

Complacency is born from fear. Fear of failure, fear of things that are new, and even the fear of not knowing  how to even proceed. Confidence, especially when confidence is paired with passion is the ultimate cure for  complacency. Remember, complacency kills. If you are not growing then you are either dying or dead.  Choose courage, growth, and accepting new challenges in life; then complacency will never be an issue for  you. 

Andy Wooten M.A. Counseling – Certified Life Coach – Aspen, Colorado

Shotokan Karate Leadership School®


Marty Callahan has spent his life understanding and improving the lives of students both young and old. His passion led to the founding of Shotokan Karate Leadership School in Santa Rosa, CA in 1981 with a dream to awaken the extraordinary leader in his students. Having inspired, taught, coached, supported, and trained over 15,000 students in 40,000 classes in Santa Rosa, Marty has become Sonoma County’s preeminent martial arts leadership instructor. His students, hundreds of whom have gone on to become leaders in their chosen fields, appreciate his engaging, student centered approach to teaching and they believe you will too.