At the end of each year, I take a moment to reflect on what we’ve gone through and where we’re going. Over the past 12 months, we have lost a few and said hello to many new faces. May, 2023 marked the 10th year anniversary of Revolution. Yay to us!
Revolution started as a group of 30 students with no professor. We were like Ronin, masterless samurai. We held a class or two on grass at the park because we didn’t have a mat. Fast forward to today, we are a team of well over 200 members.
Ten years ago, I didn’t plan on running a jiu jitsu school of this size. All I wanted was to slowly build, organically and with focus on quality, not quantity, which reminds me of a metaphor that I recently came upon.
The grass is always greener… where you water it.
Where have you and do you water?
Fortunately for myself, those that influenced me early on somehow got into my thick skull that it’s good to invest in and water yourself. My mom, she fed me and nurtured me day in and day out - she was the one to water me more literally. My dad, in various ways, encouraged me to learn and educate myself and not to fear failures as they are the pathway to enrichment (watering my future self). At the age of 10, my aunt helped me set up a CD account at the bank (creating containers for accumulating stores of water).
In my teens and twenties, I devoted a fair amount of energy and water into my education and friendships. I wasn’t the brightest person, but it was natural for me to put a 100% into my activities (basketball, gym, jiu jitsu, friends, karaoke, partying) and friendships. WIth friends, I was naturally inclined to helping, giving, sharing, calling, listening, and bringing people together.
Sometimes you learn from your parents, not to follow, but to avoid their example. My dad worked as a gardener caring for the gardens and lawns of hundreds of houses around Inglewood and South LA. I remember going to work with him on long excruciating summer days slowly laboring from one house to the next. It always puzzled me why his customers’ lawns were green but our lawn at home was brown - My dad left himself little time to water his own home.
Because of that, I learned the grass only became green if I personally took initiative to water it. I recall standing outside with hose in hand trying my best to soak the ground and turn that grass from an unsightly brown to an attractive green. It was a slow process and it didn’t work very well, but over time if I was consistent enough, I might create a few green patches.
When Revolution was created, the focus was to build a school based on quality, not quantity. I wasn’t quite a great instructor yet, but I knew how to build and foster relationships so that’s what I focused my water on. In the meantime, I tried to accumulate more and more knowledge about business, leadership, and teaching. I continued to water relationships within the container of our dojo while also watering my skills and abilities.
As my skills grew and responded to the investment of water, so to did the size and quality of our dojo. I could gradually shift water resources into other areas that could strengthen our operation such as the development of instructors, systems, and culture.
When the roots of a plant become established, you don’t have to water it as much. Revolution is now a thriving ecosystem with self-sustaining properties. The roots of our garden have become established and together, we form a matrix of branch and root systems that feed off of and nurture each other. But this doesn’t mean the work is finished (as my garden at home reminds me every weekend). There is still much to water, the question is where do we want the grass to be greener?
So as we appreciate 2023 and step into 2024, I invite you all to be gardeners like my dad, but with the focused intention of watering the areas you wish to be green.
I make no mistake about it, though I am the leader of our dojo, you are the reason we exist. Thank you for your partnership, your business, and your trust. Happy holidays and much love to you and your families.