A lesson from a Kung-fu master…

I have fond memories of watching some kung-fu movies when I was young.  Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee, and even some unknown Hong Kong actors and actresses…  Good always defeats evil.  Heroes defend villagers against bad governors or bandits.  A weak common man becomes a martial art master to revenge his parents’ death.  Yes, story lines are very similar and predictable. 

One of the most common story lines goes like this…here is one hopeless young kung-fu student under a care of a mystery Kung-fu master.  This student is full of energy but lacks discipline.  But through “many years” of trainings, finally one day the student reaches the point he can beat his master at a sparring.  And the master is happy and says, “I’ve taught you everything I know, and you have surpassed me.  You may leave me now.” 

Teaching (coaching) is not merely conveying knowledge, but helping students discover their full potential and teach them to excel and reach the point even higher than teachers themselves were able to go.  Of course, no teacher can have 100% success ratio with all students because there are responsibilities on both sides.  But, I think many times GOOD teachers and NOT SO GOOD teachers can be clearly distinguished by what they ultimately and selflessly want to achieve with students.  Even at a work place, one of the manager’s key goals should be growing her people so that someone of them may actually replace her position at any time.  We call it “succession plan” at corporate world, which should be very open and common practice at any healthy organization.

This is not about having unachievable high expectation or being a “Tiger mom” or a super-demanding boss.  Think about it!  If a teacher or a boss whom you look up to does not even expect you to succeed and become better than him or her, how would you feel?  Maybe that’s the core of some of the education problems in our country.  A BIG remark here – I am not defining education as just “academics” or mega focus on “sports” but I am talking about all around, diverse and rich education, balanced with common sense! 

Are we teaching our children to excel beyond our own capacity or are we just giving them enough knowledge to pass their grades and beautify their mediocre success? Do you see your employees or colleagues as means of your own success or see yourself as means of their success?  Maybe it is time to grab that old kung-fu movie to listen again to that old master saying in heavy accent, “I’ve taught you everything I know, and you have surpassed me.  You may leave me now.”

-David Bang-


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