Dec 102013

Are You Liviing the Black Belt Mentality in Leadership?

In today’s world, many individuals on a leadership track want instant gratification, instant rewards, instant feedback, instant stardom, instant career paths, and instant anointment as leaders. Yes, they want it now. Like the J. G. Wentworth commercial, “It’s my money, and I want it now.”

How long does it take to earn acknowledgement as a leader? I suspect some people reach that level of recognition faster than others do, yet all of us have to earn it. From time to time, I coach young managers and potential leaders who say, “I can be the CEO of this company.” Sure, confidence is important, but developing the skills and talents to be an effective leader takes time. Many individuals do not want to make the effort to develop their leadership skills, develop their emotional maturity or credibility, or go through a process of growth and development to earn their Black Belt in leadership.

What does it take to earn a Black Belt in leadership? The same process as to earn a Black Belt in karate. It takes time, training, practice, emotional maturity and the right frame of mind. It’s living the Black Belt Mentality.

The Black Belt Mentality is based on the following story. A young man asked his Master, “Master, when will I be a Black Belt?” And the Master replied, “You will never be a Black Belt. For anyone who would ask such a question doesn’t have the patience, will, and discipline to do what is required to become a Black Belt.”

Therefore, living the Black Belt Mentality requires that we walk with an open mind each day. It requires the desire to become a problem solver, to learn something new, and to pursue that practice with all our heart.

In Western culture, we have the belt system associated with martial arts, beginning with the White Belt and ending with the 10th Degree Black Belt Grand Master. To become a 10th Degree Black Belt Grand Master, one must practice more than 40 years.

Originally, in martial arts there was no belt system. You started with a white belt, and after years and years of training, the belt turned black because it was soiled and dirty from all the hard work. The true Black Belt wants to turn his belt back to white. The way to accomplish this is to keep training, working, and striving, until the fibers tear and fray to reveal the white cloth once again.

So how long does it take to become a leader? The answer is you can be one now, and continue to train, work, and strive to improve your skills. It is important to sustain that drive and embrace the Black Belt Mentality, and that is all about patience, will, and discipline. If you follow that formula, and practice it every day, you will develop your leadership skills and earn your leadership Black Belt, eventually being recognized as a 10th Degree Black Belt Grand Master in leadership

Providing your valued employees the tools to become Black Belt Leaders is essential to helping them grow, stay centered, balanced, calm during a crisis, and creative and effective in everything they do.

Someone once said, “Leadership is not about what you know; it’s about what you are willing to learn.”


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