On Knowing Your Why
When you have a big enough why, you can always figure out how. Furthermore, it’s the bigness of the why that keeps you focused on your goal long after the excitement in which you set the goal wears off. These are principles that I teach in our Blackbelt Leadership Program at Krav Maga Martial Arts.
But I had an experience this morning wherein I was watching a presentation from the Entreleadership Summit, by Dave Ramsey. The lesson was entitled, the 4 Lies Business Owners Have Been told. It was very good and I definitely recommend everyone watch it, but especially any of my fellow entrepreneurs, business owners and other business leaders in my tribe. You can watch it here after you finish reading this email please!
Lie #4 was that work is drudgery, and Dave shared several great examples and lessons about why that isn’t true. He said a couple of things that really resonated with me, and inspired me, and that caused me to want to share this blog with you today.
- “If your business has become drudgery, you need to go back and remember why you began.”
- Know your why and share it constantly with your team and customers.
I got so fired up I started speaking in tongues! It was as though God was speaking directly to me, as he often does through other leaders.
- I want to remind each and all of you, my tribe, to remember why you began. You can apply this powerful principle to anything! Remember why you began the career, the relationship, the journey to becoming Blackbelt and beyond….. Whatever the worthy goal, when you start feeling “drudgery” in it, go back and remember why you started. Rekindle the why! Nothing worthwhile is easy. The question is why do I want to accomplish this and not rather it’s easy- but rather it is worth it.
- I want to share a little bit about my story and the why of what I do. This is going to be a really short version- then I am going to start sharing more of the specific stories about my past and all that brought me to the vision and mission that is our dojo and that has kept me working strong and hard but motivated and happy for over 21 years now. She’s just grown up and I think that all we are going to accomplish for so many moving forward will be even greater than all that we’ve accomplished before. While I am proud and grateful of all my great Blackbelt Leaders and teachers and all that we have accomplished to bless and empower so many lives over these formative years, I am really excited about what’s coming next! I remember why I started and I’m more excited about our why, having seen the evidence of the value of what we do in the product of the product- the strong, confident and competent Blackbelt LEaders we create!
I was born into a poor family. We had a small pig farm in Tampa, in what is now the Carrollwood area on Casey Road. My father had a sixth grade education.
Around the Christmas Holidays (Noche Buena specifically, which is the big fest and feast for Cuban Americans the night before Christmas), we would slaughter pigs and, in the words of my sister and I as young children we were “rich again”; a few months later we’d be back to rice and eggs or rice and beans or other less decadent eating and, to my sister and I would be “poor again”. We wore hand-me-down clothes and were grateful for whatever we had, definitely not concerned about the latest fashions- which is not to say that the school bullies were not. Besides that, I was a chubby little kid, which didn’t help either. This and several other conditions of my childhood, long story short, kept me from having the highest self esteem when I was a kid…. and for decades after.
I joined the US Army at 17 years old and jumped into Honduras with the 82nd Airborne Division at 18. I later won an army “Green To Gold” Scholarship and came back to the University of Tampa on a full ride from Uncle Sam. I became the first person in my family to get a college degree and then went back to the Army as a Second Lieutenant. I had a successful military career for a few years, became a Captain and then, because of the climate during the late 90’s base realignment and closures, I chose to get out and pursue a civilian career in the late nineties.
I went to work as a Field Services Supervisor for Airborne Express in Manhattan and was very successful, so much so that a hot shot VP from another company in the Boston area (Weymouth, Mass to be specific) came and recruited me to be the Director of Operations for a branch of the company that was really failing- I have some great stories from this chapter of my life that i’ll share later but, suffice it to say right now that the VP promised me that if I could turn around this station, he would get me a position with the company back home in Florida!
I did and he didn’t. I quit and came back to Florida anyway.
I took a job as the Operations Manager of a local circuit city. It was one of the worst experiences of my professional life. I worked for a completely incompetent GM and I hated my work every day- for me, for the first time in my adult life, work was drudgery….
I tell all of this just to explain the situation I was in when the climactic moment of my life happened.
I had just dropped an Army AGR (Active Guard and Reserve) packet with my Army Reserves unit. I felt that going back into service was going to be the best way for me.
Then, as fate would have it, I was helping a friend who had a little Tae Kwon Do program out of Meadow Point teach classes- the friend had been my Tae Kwon Do teacher many years before. I wasn’t making money for it or anything, I just loved to teach.
On this one particular evening, my best friend Paul came in and watched, and I happened to be teaching alone there that night. Paul asked me the question that changed the trajectory of the rest of my life, and many other lives since.
Why aren’t you doing this for a living?
Well, that’s another great story too and I am going to share that one with you one day too, but still not the point of this blog today.
Here’s the real point: even after I opened the school, in October of 2000, and for some years after, I wasn’t sure that I was good enough. I struggled with self esteem issues for a long time.
The crazy part was that that particular deficiency, the problem I had about my own worth and my own value and my own ability to do anything right……and the feelings and the pain associated with that, with growing up with that and with still having that baggage many years after I’d accpmp;ished many amazing things, was the main catalyst of my Vision for a martial arts school.
I knew that I was called to create a special environment in which children, and for that matter adults like me too, could develop confidence and self esteem as well as fitness and self defense skills.
Truth is, and where I was going with this story, that I was already an MBA, a successful businessman and martial arts master before I really started believing in myself. For the first many years of my dojo and business, the program was working on me as much as I was working on the program.
I healed myself even as we empowered many others through our special programs of leadership and martial arts. The program kept, and continues to, getting better and better.
Today what were once just my hypothesis of how we could build up amazing Blackbelt Leaders equipped with the esteem, confidence, skills and attitude to survive any situation and thrive in life is now a reality demonstrated by the many awesome Blackbelt Leaders we have produced and that I am so proud of and grateful for.
I shared all of this today to say, this is why I will never ever give up on what we do. There have been many tough times in the last 21 years, especially early on but also more recently during the pandemic, wherein I would have quit if it wasn’t for the why.
What we do matters.
Nothing is more rewarding to me than watching a shy young child grow Confidence, a child with ADHD develop Focus, a hyper child gain control, or an unruly child develop Discipline….
nothing is more important to me than knowing that none of my Blakcbelt Leaders will go into the world with the self esteem problem that I had, nor find themself in a self defense situation they can’t handle, a challenge they can’t negotiate or an opportunity they lack the character and leadership skills to exploit.
I remember why. Now you know too.
I can’t wait to teach tonight!
You’ll get this blog tomorrow morning.
Let me know what you think.
Prepare To Live; Empower To Lead!
Grand Master Stephen J. Del Castillo
Founding Master Instructor, Krav Maga Martial Arts
Author of Developing Your Superpowers Meditations On Mastery Vol One
Check out the Meditations On Mastery Blog and Podcast too!
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Founded in 2000 by Grandmaster Stephen J. Del Castillo, a 7th degree Black Belt and Sr. Master Instructor, Krav Maga Martial Arts and Karate lessons for pre-school children ages 3-6 and elementary age kids ages 7 and up are designed to develop the critical building blocks kids need – specialized for their age group – for school excellence and later success in life.
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About Grandmaster Stephen J. Del Castillo: Grandmaster Del Castillo is the founding Master Instructor of Krav Maga Martial Arts and has been empowering lives in Pasco and Hillsborough Counties since October of 2000. He is a 7th degree Blackbelt, MBA, author, mentor and success coach, a US Army Veteran and a proud father and grandfather. He is married to Ms. Barbara Del Castillo who helps him run the school. Grand Master Del Castillo began his training in the early 80’s and has high level blackbelts in Tae Kwon Do, Karate, Premier Martial Arts and Krav Maga Martial Arts as well as experience in kickboxing, Jeet Kune Do and Jiujitsu. He has high level instructor certifications from BBSI, IKMF, and KMG and has been featured in numerous Martial Arts publications and also Success magazine. He was a competitive sport karate and American Kickboxing instructor until he enlisted in the US Army where he served in the 82nd Airborne Division, where he won an Army Green to Gold scholarship and proceeded to ROTC and the University of Tampa. He was commisioned in 1992 and went on to serve in Germany with the 3rd Infantry Division and then in several other posts in the US until he left military service to pursue his dream of creating KMMA in 2000.
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