The black belt is a symbol of achievement in Aikido. To onlookers is signifies skill, experience and seniority and occasionally a hint of mystery.
Attainment requires students to demonstrate a set repertoire of learning on the mat to meet a specific standard of performance. And yet, students know that this is not what it means at all.
Earning the 1st Dan black belt simply means you are now ready to learn. Everything up to this point has been an exercise in getting ready to learn.
Learning is the second step.
In Aikido, there is as much to unlearn as there is to learn. Desire, ambition, frustration and fear are often the elements that led to studying in the first place. Students can also be trapped by preconceived notions of what’s right and what’s wrong.
The things we desire at the outset are transcended as we advance in our training and experience. Becoming a black belt matters far more than getting a black belt. Preparing to learn is a prerequisite for learning.
Let’s take this idea into the leadership training room.
How does the role of leadership training encourage students to adopt a beginners mind and prepare them to learn how to lead if learning is the second step?