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Good Leadership Begins With Leading Yourself

At Master Scarsella’s World Class Tae Kwon Do our goal has never been to just have fun in classes. We could do that with tag and dodgeball. Instead we choose to teach quality martial arts, and hard-to-learn and even harder-to-perform traditional curriculum. Our goal is to create leaders. When that term “Leaders” gets said, many people have different views on what that means.

When someone becomes a member of our school they don’t start and say they want a blue belt and that’s it. There is usually a specific goal in mind like self-defense, increased focus and confidence or because they want to be a Black Belt. No matter why someone starts, myself and my team of instructors encourage everyone to make earning a Black Belt their goal. Not because is just a great accolade or cool to tell your friends, but because of who you become in the process.

Underneath all of the belts hung in our schools, you will see the success skills attached to each belt color. Focus for our white belts, perseverance for our red stripe and leadership for our Black Belt. So what does that mean? How can a school that has more than 100 active training Black Belts all be leaders? Isn’t a leader supposed to be at the top alone, “leading” the charge? Isn’t a leader supposed to be telling others what to do and giving commands? And to a certain extend that person is absolutely a leader of others. They might be doing a great job at it or a horrible job. They might be creating something greater than the sum of the parts or they might be making people dislike what they are doing.

When I speak to my Black Belts about being a leader, I tell them it’s not necessarily about leading others in that way. To be honest, I don’t believe everyone is supposed to be in front of everyone in a commanding type of authority. But I do believe everyone should develop leadership traits and skills. Great leadership starts with the ability to lead oneself. My definition of a leader is winning the battles against yourself. That phrase should ring true for every age. Being a leader is winning the battle of doing your homework instead of playing Angry Birds on the iPad. Being a leader is choosing the grilled chicken instead of the fried chicken. Being a leader is keeping your cool when you want to yell at your children. While most people think of being a leader as the person in front of everyone, the true leader is actually the person who is doing the right thing, the right way for the right reason even when no one is watching.

Being a leader is almost never easy, but always worth it. It is almost always a sacrifice of the present to improve the future. Being a leader is investing in your life. It’s doing the things that are boring, or tedious, or not rewarding right away. Being a good leader is not always looked up to but is always easy for that person to lay their head down to, at night when they are falling asleep. When you do the right thing for yourself, for others that you know and others that you don’t, that’s how you know you are living a good life. Not an easy life, but a good life.

As a teacher my goal is to create great leaders. Not just those that can lead others, but more importantly, those you can lead themselves! Great things can and will happen in this world when we have more people focus on becoming the best version of themselves. When growth of an individual happens, there is an inspirational ripple that can positively infect the people around them to grow themselves.

- Master Justin Scarsella


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