Success in the "Post-COVID" World Part 2
When we look at the Legacy Quadrants with a beginner’s mind and a business focus, many of the points we take for granted as successful instructors take on all new meaning and power. As each of the contributors to this project responded to my short list of questions, the answers surprised me. Remember, I was looking for a bullet point list of “quick fixes.” That was what I expected to see, that is what our world has taught us to seek when we run into difficulty. I received something completely different, something of far greater value.
Here is a breakdown of what I learned from the schools and owners who responded to my call. As with the Legacy Program when applied to teaching awesome classes, take each of the Quadrants one at a time. I have selected three key points from either the instructor or student side of each Quadrant based on what I received from my contributors.
The following is a list to apply the Legacy Quadrants to Business.
Legacy Teaching Quadrant: STRUCTURE
Student #1 & Instructor #1: Bow at the Door/Onto the Mats & Dots on the Floor
Get back to “normal” as soon and as demonstrably safely as possible. These Quadrant Points speak to normal routine and structure. Our students and potential students are craving this aspect of life right now. Everyone has had their worlds turned upside-down by the pandemic. SM Boyer and MN Myers both cited that using their floors and dots, as set up prior to the pandemic, structured class entry and exit, and other elements of class structure that were familiar and “normal” helped them retain students and show potential new students that their schools were safe and ready to serve without doing anything that felt “extremely odd.”
Student #5: Collect Cards
Here is a great example of taking the concept and updating it to match the times without losing the structure. Most, if not all, schools stopped using attendance cards. Those that were successful were able to adopt a new way to provide, or continue, the structure of “Collect Cards.” Using Self-Check via CRM software, class rosters for each class allowing quick attendance tracking, and other new COVID-safe methods were adopted that retained the spirit and intent of this quadrant point. Most schools that adopted these new methods will keep the upgrades, it makes them look more professional and organized than their competitors who did not adapt.
Instructor #7: Proper Equipment
While this was originally pointed towards the equipment being worn by the students, it can and should be equally applied to the equipment we provide for student use in each class. The concept of conspicuous cleanliness and sanitation was cited as a major factor in their success. Make a quick wipe down of all pads and other equipment used during class a part of your normal routine for your Floor Staff. It doesn’t need to be a “big deal” or involve expensive or potentially harmful chemicals, just a quick spritz from a bottle of alcohol-based cleaner and wipe or using a cleaning wipe is the perfect thing to do between classes. It can even be done by one staff member as the next class is lining up and bowing in with the instructor to reduce mat downtime. From cleaning pads, shields and Wavemasters between classes to daily cleaning and organization of all equipment and parent’s areas shows that you are going the extra steps to ensure your students stay safe and healthy as they train.
Legacy Teaching Quadrant: EMOTION
Student #1: “Yes I Can!” Attitude
All of us--students, instructors, and parents--have struggled with the feeling that we have been defeated by the virus. We have lost our “normal,” been secluded, lost special events and missed out on special experiences over the past year. Apply the “Yes I Can!” Attitude to create new wins for your students and potential students. Some great examples of this concept came from Master Bilyeu and MN Myers. Master Bilyeu had special t-shirts for students to wear during Zoom Training and delivered them via slingshot to students at their homes. Master Bilyeu also mentioned that there may have been a few water balloons involved in some of those deliveries--something those students and families will always remember. MN Myers had a special set of Rank Belts, including ATA Tiger Belts, embroidered with “Pilsung Warrior” by a local company for all students who persevered and graduated in May--their “Zoom-Only” training cycle. When asked why she had these belts created she responded,
“Our lockdown perfectly matched our testing cycle. For graduation we needed something special to celebrate student's hard work, emotion, and perseverance required THIS cycle. We embroidered "Pilsung Warrior" on their belts to always remember their strength.”
MN Myers and others have continued this concept into the new year and regular operations by instituting social media picture and video contests and other ways to highlight students as they succeed in all aspects of life. As a result of the focus on personal victories and student recognition schools that engage in these activities are enjoying a strong referral and review-driven growth without resorting to gimmicks and giveaways.
Instructor #1: Eye Contact
Eye contact is about more than just looking someone in the eyes. Master Clews made several comments in his response that spoke to the concept of clear, honest, and optimistic communication. However, to deliver this type of message we must not flinch when asked a difficult question or are challenged to deliver unpopular news of restrictions or operational changes. We cannot foster belief and optimism if we dodge the hard questions or are looking at our feet when we announce something that we know will not be popular. Regardless of the conversation and the message, deliver it with hope: look them in the eyes.
“We are leaders. We have a sensible optimism of the future, and we have a plan. We want to inspire hope, not despair.” – Master Clews
Instructor #6: Spectacular Demonstration
“I also took much of the training and classes that ATA HQ offered, which kept me motivated, and I gleaned some very helpful techniques for keeping my virtual students engaged.” – Stacie Booth
As instructors our spectacular demonstration needs to go beyond showing great martial arts technique. Our students look to us for examples on how to live. The responses I received talked of motivation, training and setting a personal example for their students and families. It became a culture point for these successful schools that the instructors were continuing their training and applying what they learned in an impactful way. It also made a huge difference, in many cases, in retention and growth when the owners and instructors were obviously motivated and engaged, seemingly unphased by the challenges of operating in the reality of COVID. Yes, even those business-centric things being learned from training opportunities like Thrive can make a huge impact in your school. While your students and families may not know exactly what you learned, if you become more upbeat and engaged or improve something within the business that makes their experience better in any way, the training has improved your spectacular demonstration.
Legacy Teaching Quadrant: KNOWLEDGE
Instructor #1: Demonstrate, Explain, Practice, and Confirm Results
This is all about staff training and its impact on your students, both current and potential. This situation has evolved, and we have had to evolve with it, or watch our businesses die. As owners and chief instructors, we have all learned incredible amounts of information on all sorts of topics not included in any instructor training we ever participated in. What have you done to show what you have learned to your juniors, your staff, or your customers? Have you spent the time to pass on what you have learned to your instructors and staff, explaining why it is important to act on the knowledge? Have you had them practice it and then set them loose to take responsibility for making good things happen for everyone? Most important of all, did you confirm the results of that effort? Be sure to confirm both that the staff member understood and executed the plan and that the plan had a positive impact on your school and its members. The best way to grow out of the mess that was 2020 is to show that regardless of what happened, how bad it got, and where you are today, your focus is on a better, stronger future by celebrating the wins.
Instructor #5: History
What has been one thing everyone around the world has mourned throughout the duration of the pandemic? The loss of normalcy. An interesting trend appeared in the responses when I read them back-to-back. I clearly heard a strong message, “Do not lose your core values.” Success has come for these schools through holding to their core values and adapting delivery methods to give their students the same or better service. They did not chase new fads or change the core of what they taught. While they all modified how they delivered instruction there was not a loss of continuity in the curriculum or core values. While concepts like Zoom Classes are new and felt strange, by continuing to teach the same curriculum and holding students to the same Life Skills, successful schools made the experience a little less weird. Their students felt more “normal” in those Zoom Classes and parents saw that it was learning and growth as normal for their children even though they could not take class in person. A sense of normalcy in a very abnormal situation gave everyone a sense of strength and hope.
The Songahm Curriculum and the Legacy Life Skills have a strong history of creating success within our students and for our schools. Do not stray from your history when that history is what works, just look for new ways to deliver what you have always delivered.
Instructor #7: Verbalize Expectations
This point works with many of those discussed above, we all need to be communicating in overdrive. Whether it is in our marketing to potential new students or communicating with our current students we must be positive. Media does a fantastic job of delivering bad news daily; the best thing we can do is provide a sensible optimism of the future. This starts by over communicating our expectations and plans. Be clear, concise, and positive as you communicate with your community. Look for ways to deliver even the bad news in a positive way, looking to a better future as you work through the challenge at hand. By communicating all changes in operations, class schedules and other aspects of your normal operations you can make even the changes feel more normal.
Legacy Teaching Quadrant: CHARACTER
The Legacy Character Development Quadrant makes a great way to summarize and remember the things learned from the other three quadrants. When viewed with a beginner’s mind in business, which to be honest we all have at this point, here is what they might be read as:
Follow all the rules and regulations pertaining to COVID-Safety. Do not let them create a negative environment. Maintain a personal discipline of being positive and focusing on the future.
Be optimistic! Present all changes as improvements and work to make them so. Apply your Instructor Skills to keep your school a place where the “Yes I Can!” Attitude is a cornerstone of your culture.
Now more than ever, positive communication is key. Use every tool at your disposal to communicate clearly, concisely and in appositive manner. Facebook, websites, text messaging, and phone calls keep everyone informed and even the largest changes in operations will feel more normal for your students and staff.
This situation has been difficult for everyone. While we may not agree with some of the things people say and do, if it does not harm us, our ability to operate safely, or a student, we need to respect all opinions and choices. When we show parents that we respect them and their needs they will more readily respect and support us and our schools.
Self-Esteem is a basic human need. We need to help both our students and the parents in our program rebuild their self-esteem. When we support them and help them feel successful in whatever challenge they face we win a raving fan. Build them up and they will build you up!
Be transparent and honest in everything you do. Mass media has been proven to feed the world a very skewed, even blatantly dishonest, view of what is happening. Be the breath of fresh air everyone needs and be truthful with your students. Be open and honest but keep it positive.
Written by Brian Myers.
Aug. 12, 2021
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