I have practiced and taught T’ai-Chi for many years. It is something that grew from a life-long passion and interest in the philosophy of movement. It is how I earn my living, teaching T’ai-Chi and Qigong. I have chosen not to use my skills in the realms of adult education but to work independently, giving me freedom to be autonomous in my work and seek the greatest benefit to those who study with me as well as myself. In order to get the courses into the public eye and thus let those know about them who wish to study this martial art I have to look for and book rooms to work in, write and distribute publicity, keep my web page updated, and many other administration tasks, a considerable effort, skill and financial investment. My experience of others who have never work independently is that they often do not have a picture of the self-employed, which is understandable.
So how does all this activity refer to the slogan ‘Don’t wait in ambush’? In order to get my Tai-Chi classes available to the public I have to stick my head above the parapet, I have to allow myself to be noticed in the region that my classes will generate interest. This isn’t a big deal, I am not looking for world recognition! I am only disseminating information in a small area, the areas in which I hold these classes. In doing this, I lay myself open to comments that might not be useful if I took them too seriously. Comments such as “the Weston empire moves on” or “I see you are taking over the spiritual life of Monmouth”. Yes, people do say these things, and more! Ambushed!
I was at a concert recently. A male voice choir. One of the two soloists was a hugely talented young man of 18. When introduced it was mentioned that he was receiving vocal training. The purity of his voice sent shivers through me. His commitment to the song he was singing was total, and very rare in a singer, amateur or professional. In the interval I went to find out where he was training, assuming he must be heading for an operatic career. He told me he was studying to be a primary school teacher, his singing lessons were on the side. One of his fellow choir members butted in saying, “We can’t let him get big-headed.” It was said laughingly. I thought about this then reflected: “Culturally we tend to put down those who are talented, we tend not to openly celebrate their gift.” I continued “There are many primary school teachers and they are very precious, but we have few great singers, singers with your obvious talent.”
I left it at that.
How many of you aspiring artists and enterprising women and men have stopped in your tracks for fear of what others may say or think? How many of you have had the courage to nurture your gift then offer it to the world? And then claim the right to receive payment for the initiative you have shown in developing your skills and talents into something that others can benefit from?
More pertinently: have you ever put someone else down when they shared an idea they had with you? Have you ever been less than enthusiastic when another succeeds at their new venture, or widens their sphere of operation? Are you able to celebrate another’s successes and achievements? Are you able to wholeheartedly encourage a friend’s effort to build an income for themselves through their own talents and skills? Or does a twinge of envy or jealousy prevent your heart from opening to their initiatives?
I taught in some of the major drama schools in London for many years. Quite swiftly I saw that the culture that most talented young actors arrived with was not useful for their development as actors, vulnerable creatures all. I saw that their ability to put each other down had come from a culture that encouraged criticism and analysis, a picking to pieces culture and a cutting down to size mentality. As a young dancer I was fortunate to witness and receive how the more experienced dancers in a company unstintingly gave of their knowledge and talent to the newcomers. Praise was offered on a daily basis for achievements. Help was given when it was noticed that a dancer was struggling. I passed this craft of enabling others onto the young actors requesting they learn how to celebrate another’s success, to always put themselves in the shoes of the prizewinner. That always feels good, being a winner. Can we allow another to feel good? If I can get sense of your success, be you for a moment, then I can celebrate it. And if you succeed, then chances are that I might one day!
Waiting in Ambush is the path of the coward, not the warrior. Our ability to communicate generously from our hearts is what makes us human warriors, fearless operators in this turbulent world, whatever our line of business.
Celebrate your own achievements, cheer another’s. Allow what others say if it teeters over into cynicism or criticism to wash over you. Yet always open your heart to those who ambush your efforts, it is only their own fear of taking action and making their mark that is being revealed! It is our duty to use the talent we are born with, find the teachers, develop the platform, deepen our insight, offer it to the world. Then those who wish to benefit from our skills and gifts will. They are waiting, and not in ambush.