Other than a uniform, what do scouts, the military and martial arts have in common? They all profess to instill courtesy. Why would that be a selling point when courtesy is something that should be taught from an early age? Forty years ago, a child who asked for something without saying, “Please,” would go without. Unfortunately in today’s casual world, courtesy is often thought of as old-fashioned and time consuming; reserved for the upper class. Please, thank you, yes sir, and no ma’am are seldom heard in classrooms let alone business situations, but is it important? In today’s fast-paced, competitive world, courteousness can set people apart.
We end my martial arts class with everyone lining up to individually thank the instructor for teaching and he thanking us for coming to class. It takes only five minutes, but the tradition sends each of us on our way feeling valued. I have always said “thank you” and “please,” but now I find myself saying, “thank you” and “please” more often and more sincerely; while also noticing when others forget their manners.
In stores, fast food restaurants and banks, I now make a concerted effort to look the person in the eye and say a heartfelt thank you. It has raised more than one eyebrow, especially when the line was long and people complained loudly. Those two simple words not only made the receiver smile, but I usually felt better as I left. If I am going to pay for a class, I should use the information learned. I could just utilize my martial arts manners in class, but I get so much more out of being courteous on a full time basis than just using part-time manners.
This really hit home one day when I was going to get to meet a well-known martial artist at work. I was very courteous and was most surprised when that same courteousness was not returned. I thought that perhaps he was having a bad day, but the next time we worked together, he was just as rude. He may be a gifted martial artist, but I found I could not respect him as a person or even a fellow martial artist. He had mastered part-time courtesy, but had a long way to go on lifetime manners. The next time I went to class, I made sure that my “thank you” came from the heart, because I was grateful that I had learned a lesson that will go far beyond my martial arts training.
From Inside Sidekicks Newsletter