Thursday, June 14, 2007

An Instructor's Self-Examination

Did you create the club? Did you create the club independently or did you receive a commission to create the club from a larger organization? Did you purchase a franchise? Did you claim a territory?

What title do you claim? Did you assign it to yourself? What does that title assert about your role in the club?

How much money do you have invested in the club's creation and operation? How much ego do you have invested in the same?

Do you charge your club members fees or dues? Do you run the club as a private business, or are the finances open to the scrutiny of the club members? Do you operate the club fundamentally as a for-profit or a non-profit entity? Do you personally profit from the operation? Do you look forward to writing off "club losses" on your personal taxes each year?

Do your students know where their money goes? How it is spent? Or do you conceal these details? Is it none of the students' business how you control the money? Do you rely upon the mystique of traditional Japanese or other relationships (such as sensei, sempai, kohai, etc.) to conceal the details or to avoid such questions?

Are the members treated fundamentally as customers, receiving a service (training) for a fee, or are they treated fundamentally as family where all members have some vested interest in the promotion and continuation of the club? Perhaps there are some of each? Does the club business model reflect and reinforce the social model, or is there a mismatch?

What are the members' responsibilities to the club? What do you insist are their responsibilities to you?

Do you insist that every club member accept you as his or her personal sensei, or can a member practice with your club while claiming a different personal sensei? Do you have objections to members practicing with other groups as well? Does it bother you personally that a member might seek knowledge from someone but you?

What are your responsibilities to the club? To your students? Do you continue to train yourself? Do you bring new information back to your students? Do you plan quality classes? Are you conscientious in your instruction and your care for your students? Are you prepared and on time? Is it your sincere wish that each of your students may surpass your own ability? Do you plan for the students' personal advancement? Are the students aware of that plan? Does your personal ego or pride ever stand in the way of a student's advancement? What do you do to grow the club? To advance the art?

Are the transmission of the art and the conduct of the club business conducted by the same person? Would you allow them to be separately managed, or would you insist on control of both?

If more experienced business persons---administrators, marketers, entrepreneurs, or others similar---were members of the club, would you yield business and financial controls for the betterment of the club? Would you involve them in decisions? Would you accept their decisions even if you disagreed with them, or would you insist on final approval for all decisions?

If a more senior practitioner in your tradition moved to your area, would you yield control of the club in its entirety? Just the teaching? The business aspects as well? Or neither?

Would you be comfortable with the same rules and expectations that you impose on the club if tomorrow they were imposed upon you?

Do you serve the club, or do you own the club?

Is it about the art, or is it about you?

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