I came across this wonderful Instagram photograph the other day and shared it to the Bamboo Spirit page on Facebook. I thought that it merited a short post. It focuses on attributes that require no talent.

This photograph encapsulates much of my outlook and philosophy. Perhaps this outlook is informed by my life-long deafness and the feeling that I had to be extra prepared for any situation. I still feel that way in a lot of respects.  The two things on this list that I believe in most are the first and last items on the list. 

First, be on time. I cannot stand to be somewhere late. As a matter of fact, I like to arrive a few minutes early. This helps with the last item on the list. If I arrive early, I have a few extra moments of preparation. Preparation goes a long way, whether it be reviewing for hearings or reviewing a lesson plan for a class. It gets me into the right frame of mind to either render the appropriate decisions or to execute a plan.

The second, third and fourth items in the photograph are biggies with me. To me, they are related to one another. 

I can accept a student who is struggling if it is evident that they are putting forth effort and working diligently on whatever technique I am teaching. What drives me crazy is the lack of effort. Often it is evident by the body language exhibited by the student.

For example, one of the kids in the children’s class arrived slightly late for class. I asked her to complete her 20 pushups before joining the class. It was apparent that this young student just didn’t feel like doing it. Zero effort and with body language that screamed “I don’t want to do it and I don’t feel like it.”

How did I know? She had done 20 pushups in previous classes without difficulty.

The first five pushups were not anything close to what she had done in the past. I told her to start over and show me EFFORT and more importantly, good form. I looked at her parents. They nodded at me. We were on the same page.  

Again, she started out lazily. 

“Stop and start over. You’ve got 30 seconds to do 20 correct pushups.”

“30, 29, 28, 27, 26…….” I was considering dismissing her summarily from class.

She managed to crank out 20 decent pushups in time.

Don’t get me wrong. We are going to have fun in the kids’ class. But they have to show effort regardless of their experience or talent level. That’s a biggie with me.

It takes zero talent to put forth effort.

Being coachable (item #8) also takes no talent. Students who are willing to listen and accept constructive criticism or feedback are worth gold to an instructor. Those are the ones who want to improve.  

I’ve had a couple of students who had difficulty accepting instruction and had meltdowns. 


For example, in my very first Modern Arnis class in Oshawa (February of 2008), an older gentleman came to try my class out. He had never seen or experienced Filipino Martial Arts. There were four other students in this introductory class.

After our first class in February 2008 minus the rude gentleman. LOL!
After our first class in February 2008 minus the rude gentleman. LOL!

I was taking the class through the basics of Modern Arnis, starting with the twelve angles of attack and basic block, check, counter.

The gentleman interrupted my teaching to ask a “what if” question.

I replied, “First, let’s get through this drill and I’ll answer your question.”

As we were going through the drill, he interrupted again and asked another “what if” question. Something along the lines of “what if somebody punches at you like this?”

I smiled at him and said, “let’s finish this drill.”

At that moment, he erupted and violently flung his stick to the ground and stomped out of the room.

My lovely wife said to him as he was leaving “It was so nice to meet you!” 😉

Pretty obvious that he was likely not coachable and we were better off without him around.

It takes zero talent to be coachable.

It takes zero talent to have any of these attributes. And possessing these attributes may go a long way toward success in any endeavour. 

What do you think?

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