A few months after I began training at Cosens MMA, I was given a wonderful opportunity. They were a booming gym in dire need of help. From early on my life began revolving around the gym. The coaches noticed that I would regularly come in early to watch the kid’s classes before my own classes would start.
Sensing what they thought were “maternal instincts” and a love for children (granted, I’m just assuming here), they approached me and asked if I would be interested in assisting with the kid’s programs. Initially, I was flattered. So I replied with an immediate, “YES!”
But that flattery quickly dissipated upon the quick realization of one key problem…
Children hate me.
It all started when I was about 10 years old. I attended a small school which held classes for grades K-8th. The school was tiny enough that all the students would eat lunch at the same time. After lunch we had regularly scheduled recess and so children ages 5 to 13 would march outside after they finished eating to enjoy 15 minutes of shenanigans before starting the second half of the day’s classes.
On a particularly fateful day in the summer, I decided to practice gymnastics during recess. Mind you, I never actually took any gymnastics classes, but I was an avid fan of the Olympics that year. Having watched a routine on television, I worked up the courage to try my hand at my very first cartwheel.
It seemed simple enough at the time, so I went for it. I got a running head start, placed my hands on the ground, swung my legs into the air, and finished the technique.
I had done it! I had performed my very first cartwheel! I erupted into laughter and celebration, but my cheers of victory were cut short by cries of pain. I turned to look over my shoulder toward the direction of the screams and saw a small, kindergarten boy clasping his hands over his chin as tears streamed down his cheeks. Apparently, I forgot to check my surroundings, and he wound up in close range of my gymnastics; and even closer to my foot.
I had just kicked a kid in the face.
The little boy shot me a gut-wrenching look. Every time I saw him after that, I felt the horrible guilt. This same look I managed to project on every other child that ever looked at me. From then on, I chose to avoid children. On the rare occasion I did interact with them, they usually stared at me awkwardly, ran away, or started crying.
So you can imagine my shock and surprise when my coaches asked me to assist with the children’s programs. Considering I had none of these “maternal instincts” they suspected I had, I found it pretty ironic that they chose me of all people to help. But since I had already replied with an enthusiastic “Yes!” (and they really did need help) there was no turning back.
I showed up the first day, and every day for a month after that, scared s–tless. Having to face not just one, but 10-15 of those accusing faces, was absolutely mortifying. Since the curriculum included jiu-jitsu and mixed martial arts, I would be showing kids how to kick each other. It could have been Cartwheel Boy all over again…
I decided that this challenge could be an opportunity to grow, so I stuck it out. I showed up to every class. I acted excited. I pretended to have the energy of a four year-old. I didn’t kick anyone in the face. Eventually my teaching skills blossomed.
I began anticipating class. I would look forward to working with the children. The most amazing thing is, they looked forward to seeing me too! Down the road I suffered short hiatus due to my ribs. Upon my return, I was swarmed by a horde of children with inquiries of where I had been. They were hoping that I would be teaching that day, and showered me with hugs. No more accusing eyes, no more stares or cries. I had hugs.
There is a saying that I have found to be very true, “Fake it ‘til you make it.” However, it is not simply a saying, it is an attitude. People too often forget the influence of their own mind-set. If we think and act positively, positive things will happen. If we think and act negatively, negative things will happen. The same holds true for characteristics and qualities as well. These are basic laws of attraction.
Prior to working with the children’s program, my attitude towards those ferocious miniature humans was pretty pessimistic. In changing my outlook and my actions I was able to become something I doubted I ever could be: a teacher. A children’s teacher to boot!
Amy Cuddy, an associate professor at Harvard, actually did some amazing research on the “fake it ‘til you make it” attitude. You can check it out here. She shows that there is an unharnessed amount of power in the effects our body language. She shows that something as small as altering the way you stand, can change not only how people view you, but how you view yourself.
If you find yourself faced with a challenge, an extreme goal, or an obstacle; or any kind of difficultly, try faking the characteristics and mind-set that you wish you had. You may be surprised to find, that you start becoming it.
That is as long as you avoid doing cartwheels in a child’s vicinity, of course.
Me and the kids at the Cosens MMA Christmas Party
This blog post was written by Elle_Renae
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