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At the risk of giving away my true age… I started my training in Martial Arts over 51 years ago. I began my training exclusively in Taekwon-Do some 10 years later already holding a 2nd Degree Black Belt in Karate. However, I had to start my training all over in Taekwon-Do from the rank of white belt… for which I eternally grateful. Because, as a white belt I had to study and learn and eventually embody the tenets of Taekwon-Do. These ‘tenets’ give the real meaning of Taekwon-Do training, they’re a statement of commitment, personal dedication and effort expended to the limits of our abilities towards our own personal growth, spiritual growth, physical health, or any other goal to which we may aspire. As I look back, this as much as any other aspect of my training over the years has helped shape my life.

The first of these tenets is courtesy. First, because in the world of Taekwon-Do… without respect and courtesy towards our instructor, fellow students, the world, and ourselves, the student is empty. When faced with difficulties of training or technique, personalities, inadequate facilities or any other obstacle, the student…without question…. will fail. Courtesy is the internal flexibility that allows giving and understanding. Such internal flexibility is born of true confidence. If a person is blind to the needs of others, they are also blind to their own true needs, and success, achievement or victory is simply not possible in mental and spiritual darkness.

The Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary defines courtesy as “polished manners’, “gallantry”,”courteous behaviour”. Wow! When’s the last time you can remember being treated with those particular behavioural characteristics? Polished manners? You must be kidding! Not in today’s world. Oh, yes, things have changed. Gallantry? You are most certainly kidding! Most don’t even know the true meaning of the word. Well, let’s go back to Mr.Webster and his definition. “Gallantry”, “an act of marked courtesy”, “courteous attention to a lady”. Courtesy. As I said earlier, courtesy allows giving and understanding and opens your mind and eyes to the needs of others. Without question, these are important characteristics in martial arts, in business and in life. In business, the most important word in customer service is courtesy. To bring polished manners, gallantry, courteous attention to any business will have a dramatic impact on the customer service and eventually the bottom line in very short order. If you back it up with the two most important words in customer service, “thank you”, the results will amaze you.

Bill Stilwell from the Management Institute, University of Wisconsin, said, “So, to the degree you give others what they want, they will give you what you want.” I was amazed by this simple statement. I’ve never forgotten it. I saw it as one of those rare precious moments that can change your life if you can truly grasp the meaning. Like self-liking and goal-setting, it’s one of those things I wished I’d learned it’s true meaning years before. I mean, this is the key to persuading, motivating, and leading others. This is the key to getting people to do things for you. Yes, to the degree you give others what they want, they will give you want you want! Oh, my…it seems so simple. And, maybe it is, if you really understand it. But few do. Because even if you know the rule you must learn how to communicate the rule before it actually works for and not against you. For most, it works in reverse because they want to get what they want BEFORE they give others what they want. For example, a man says to himself, “I would give my wife roses if she would show me more affection.” That’s the problem…you must first give others what they want…then they will give you want you want. People have it twisted around.

Learning how to communicate courtesy and to find out what people want is another important area of growth. Six important words that communicate courtesy is “I admit I made a mistake”. Some can’t say it out loud…they just mutter something barely audible. For a business to admit a mistake actually gives confidence to a customer, not the other way around. It gives the business permission to make things right. It takes courage and patience to find out what people want. The courage to ask the question with the four most important words in the English language. “What is your opinion?” Again, it builds confidence and you’ll get an answer you can use. Remember, this isn’t about getting, it’s about giving and succeeding. In fact, it’s about becoming immensely successful. If you can get things done with people being courteous and joyful, helping them grow and helping them become more than they have ever been before, then you, in addition to receiving everything you have ever wanted, will also have one of the most treasured talents and abilities anyone can possess. And…the world needs more like you.

A story I was sent in the mail I’ve kept on my desk and read often goes like this; “During my second month of college, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions until I read the last one: ‘what is the name of the woman who cleans the school?’ Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50’s, but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper, leaving the question blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade. ‘Absolutely,’ said the professor. ‘In our careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say ‘hello.’ I’ve never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.”

Mack Newton

Copyright Mack Newton. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced in any form without the expressed written consent of the author.