Life's a Beach(ball)
Whilst I worked in Hospitality in my previous life I was at times in attendance to various customer service training days.
Aside from the free food and coffee involved there was generally a lot of training around delivering the best service, learning about drinks, food, ingredients and best practices for serving.
One training which I remember well and which I know to be an important aspect in the Dojo world is what’s known as the beach ball principle.
It may go by other names but the concept is simple.
The beach ball is made up of various colours.
Depending on how we view the ball we only ever see some of the colours at one time.
This is our perspective.
If you only saw one side would you think it was only made up of those three colours?
Once you turn the ball you see it is made up of other colours to.
What this lesson is trying to illustrate is that others may have a different perspective to you, even if you cannot see what they see, and we must attempt to understand their perspective.
In the restaurant setting it may be how a customer perceives their service, as being slow, poor, or great.
Perhaps the plate of food that you explained was small was to the customer large.
Another great allegory that links to this is Plato’s Cave.
Where some can only see the shadow of puppets against a cave wall, others see the light source creating the shadows, and some others can also see the colourful world outside the cave.
In the allegory it states how we humans cannot know anything outside of our experience.
To those who have only ever seen the shadows of puppets how can they possibly understand what is creating them?
In the martial arts it becomes clear when we can only see our art from one perspective, especially when our experience has only ever been one dimensional.
If you only see Karate practiced at long range against other karateka how do you understand it from a close quarters perspective against an untrained aggressor?
Similarly, if your only martial arts experience is what you have seen in movies how does that stack up against when you actually enter a Dojo?
Of course the human species is able to use their imagination which can be used to better understand and learn through the use of good communication and teaching.
This is why it is also important to actually listen to what someone else is saying rather than to simply argue your point of view.
It is also important to expand your learning from other people who can force you to question your knowledge and perspectives.
Life and Karate are not black and white, but an assortment of colours.
It can have all the colours and more of a beach ball; you may just not have seen all of them yet.