Eternal Grand Master H.U. Lee – The Entrepreneur

Every time I think “Wow, Eternal Grand Master was really smart,” I run into something that shows me what an understatement that is.

And this time, it happens to be the fact that I am reading the eMyth (by Michael Gerber), and that I approached the ATA Museum at the new ATA Headquarters with the eyes of someone who is reading the story.


In order to illustrate what I’m seeing, let me try and CONDENSE what I’m learning from the eMyth.


Quick synopsis of what I’m reading

  1. Within every business owner is an entrepreneur (envisions the future, comes up with new ideas), a manager (systematizes, runs quality control, and creates order, based on a knowledge of the past), and a technician (actually does the work. Everything else is a distraction)
  2. Ideally, we want balance between those three.
  3. Most businesses are started by technicians (people who do the work), who have unfortunately not developed the other two personalities, and therefore give little thought to creating systems (manager) or coming up with new ideas to approach the ever-changing future (entrepreneur).
  4. The most successful businesses we know of did not “become” successful by starting out technician-oriented but rather, began with the future in mind. When they were a small operation, they still “systematized” and “created”. Even though there was work to be done, they did not let the “work” distract from the “vision”.


And this leads back to my main point.


I love teaching martial arts. Therefore, I can take this two different directions.

  1. Because I love teaching martial arts, I must make sure that there is always a place where I can teach. And I must become the best instructor I can possibly be.


  1. Because I love teaching martial arts, I must create opportunities, for anyone else who desires it, to enjoy what I enjoy.


Option 1 sounds nice. It sounds like someone who holds themselves to a high standard, to the highest quality. It is also the above-described “Technician” perspective. I must create a place in which I can do the work that I love.

But option 2 does not contradict option 1. Rather, it expands…rather than simply create a place where I can do the work I love, can I create a place where others can have this same opportunity as I have?


And that’s where I think Eternal Grand Master’s brilliance comes into play. I mean, MKF (Midwestern Karate Federation) grew so quickly that it had to be renamed ATA (American Taekwondo Association) and now ATA International in less than 50 years. We were founded in 1969. We are 48 years old. We have schools across the country. We have schools in a BUNCH of different countries.



Because in the beginning, he drew a map of the USA in the sand, and put dots on every location he wanted to put a school. In other words, he began with the end (bad choice of word, cause we’re still going!) in mind. He wanted to create instructors, not simply hold the position for himself.


So what about me?


This is my plan, my vision, my goal for my school and organization.

  1. Although it is human nature to attach to an instructor, and this is normal, we will take efforts to build in our students a love of the art itself, rather than a love of any instructor or practitioner. Because this feeds the long-term and not the short-term.
    • (No, don’t worry. I’m not going anywhere, anytime soon. But if our current team are still the only ones teaching in 5 years, then we are not fulfilling our vision!)
  2. Find those who love this enough to want to make it a career, and make sure that opportunities are created for them. Whether they take it or not is up to them, but it is my responsibility to make sure that the opportunities are present within my organization.
    • If the opportunity is not present, then if I am truly a caring instructor, I must point them to somewhere else, where the opportunity is. However, me no wanna. So I must create opportunities.
  3. Learn everybody’s goals and priorities, and then equip them to achieve them.
    • Students: One person wants to be a state/district/world champion. The other simply wants to get back into shape. I must recognize these, and although I use the same curriculum, I give different recommendations. The “get-in-shape” person does not need to come to class more than twice a week. The one with the goal of champion absolutely needs to come to class more than twice a week.
    • Instructors: One person wants to work 30 hours a week, make a comfortable amount of money, and spend time more time with spouse and family. The other wants to build an empire, make a whole bunch of money, and open more than one school. I want to be able to equip both to understand their own goals, and what it will take to reach them.


I love teaching. Therefore, I will teach. I also love owning my own school. And I love running it and learning how to run it better. So I will continue to do so, and I will kick butt.

But I will also be forward-thinking. If anybody else wants to learn to teach, or run a school, I’m not going to wait for them to be ready, and then build the system. I must work on building a system now for students I haven’t yet met, so that there will be a path towards career-ship for anyone who, years from now, is interested.


Bring it on.


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