During my training as a black belt in martial arts, one of my duties was to clean the dojang. It was a less than glamorous job that usually entailed cleaning blood, snot and skin off the mats and, more than a few times, vomit off the toilets and floors of the bathroom. There was no pay in it for me, no pat on the back, not even a thank you. It was simply part of my responsibility as a student. If that wasn’t bad enough, at one point the master of the Dojang approached me and asked me to teach the children, called the Little Tigers. Again, I wouldn’t be paid to teach. I was expected to volunteer, on my own time. For me, it was a hard no. I wasn’t interested in being a babysitter. My master rephrased: “In order for you to continue your training here, you MUST teach the Little Tigers.” So, I did it. And, at first, it was terrifying. Working with small humans can be like trying to collect water with a spaghetti strainer. But as time went on, I came to realize why my master had foisted this completely unwanted responsibility on me. By teaching others, even a room full of hyperactive rugrats, I was learning. Not only did it reinforce my own training, it taught me other skills like communication and leadership. And most importantly, it taught me selflessness and the value of service. By cleaning and teaching, I was giving back to the school that had given me so much.
There’s a phrase that all of us are familiar with. For most of us, it would come up around birthdays or Christmas when we complained that someone received more, or better, gifts than we did. “It’s better to give than to receive.” If you were like me, you probably thought, yeah, yeah, that’s great, now where’s my present? But have you ever really stopped to think about the feelings around giving and receiving? Of course, everyone enjoys getting a present. There’s anticipation and excitement, tearing open the wrapper to reveal the treasure hidden inside. It brings us back to childhood. But the feeling is usually fleeting. Especially when the treasure is a six-pack of assorted tube socks. (Which brings another phrase to mind: “It’s the thought that counts.”) Now think about the emotions around being the gift giver. There is also anticipation and excitement. You watch as the recipient opens everyone else’s gift, itching for them to pick yours next. When they finally do, you feel a thrill, maybe even a little nervous in your belly. Are they going to like it? There’s a moment when the wrapper comes off and their face lights up. The feeling of knowing you’ve picked the perfect present is far more powerful than receiving even the most valuable of gifts.
Being of service is like picking the perfect gift. It’s gratifying, it’s empowering, and it serves you as much, if not more, than the person to which you are being of service. Teaching martial arts to children wasn’t my cup of tea, but the reward of reinforcing my own training outweighed my displeasure. I took no joy in cleaning the dojang for free, but knowing that I was providing a clean, safe place for fellow students to train was far more valuable than any paycheck. As an IMS Apprentice, you will deal with far fewer bodily fluids than I did at the dojang, but you will learn this same principle of selflessness by donating your time to train others as part of your Apprentice journey. Each Apprentice will guide a minimum of 32 individuals through one of the Power Series courses before being eligible to apply for certification as an IM Trainer. That's a minimum of 384 practical hours of supporting others inside of the tools, techniques and strategies in our foundational curriculum. In those hours, you will not only learn more about yourself through others, you will learn to serve for the sake of it, for the sake of paying forward that which you have received. It's a beautiful thing. AND, one of our 3 Guiding Principles as an organization is, in fact, Selflessness.
Click HERE for more details about our Apprentice Program. We will be accepting applications through October 31st at 11:59 p.m. MT. If you have a passion for serving others (or want to develop one!) apply today and start your journey toward becoming a certified IM Trainer.