You may be wondering what in the world is going on in this picture. Well, to be quite honest...Sensei was conducting a bit of an experiment with the kids class. You see, I gave each of the young karateka in class an opportunity to be blindfolded and then reach into a box to grab one of nine cubes inside. The trick was that there was more than cubes inside the box.
Imagine your teacher, or boss, or spouse brings a box into the room with what appear to be air holes punched in the lid. You'd probably wonder what was inside. Once the chatter in the room calms down, you would hear that, indeed, there was something (or somethings) inside the box. MOST of us would NOT put a hand in there without knowing what was living inside.
Some of the kids took a little more pushing, but in the end, they all gathered the courage to reach inside the box and grab a cube from among the creepy sounds and textures inside the box. Why did they do this?! Well, I've been teaching long enough to know that there is always a small minority who are naturally more adventurous than the rest of the group. You know what really became the tipping point...that factor that convinced the kids that they were more brave than they thought? It was seconds after I looked each of them in the eye and said, "trust me".
Let me just say how humbling it is that those two words elicited such a courageous reaction from the group. It really put a smile on my face that day, and maybe the hint of a tear in my eye. Our character theme for September has been Courage and Respect and this was the first of our object lessons from the month. We've discussed how courage is "doing the right thing even when we are afraid" and how we can practice that at home first; then at school or on sports team, etc.
Courage is a great thing. Encouragement is even better. The kids don't know this yet, but as we continue to talk about courage and the great things it allows us to do, I'll be guiding them to a better (age appropriate) understanding of what real encouragement can produce. When I told the kids to trust me, I didn't give them a magic confidence boost or a shot of heroism. All I did was give them a bit of encouragement. That little bit gave them the courage to try something that was initially terrifying.
So the question is...if I can give a group of kids the courage the reach into a box of cicadas, what can you give your friends the courage to do?
PS The box was really filled with a mixture of dried corn and rice...with the addition of my phone playing a track of cicadas in nature. Once the reveal was given to the kids, I had to explain that even though there were no real bugs in the box, they didn't know at the time. The bugs were imaginary, but the courage was very real!