Find your replacement
You’re on now, but who’s on next?
A hard fact; you won’t be here for ever. We can strive to make the most of what we have while we have it, but if we don’t have a succession plan in place, whatever we’re doing will end with us.
Hwang Kee, Chang Shi Ja, founder of Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan, envisaged that his organisation and martial art would flourish for 1,000 years. He was known to meditate deeply on all aspects of death; therefore, he must have understood the importance of succession planning. To ensure his legacy would continue after he was gone, Grandmaster Hwang Kee placed great emphasis on developing not only skilled practitioners, but also high-quality instructors and leaders. This is a legacy continued by his son and successor, HC Hwang, Kwan Jang Nim to this day.
As humans, we have succession planning hard wired into our biology. Our reproductive system is exactly that; a system designed to replace ourselves with someone like us, ensuring our blood line – our legacy – continues on after we have died. As instructors, we take on students in order to teach the art of Soo Bahk Do and share our knowledge. However just like raising a child without providing them a proper education, we must give our students more than just the basic skills of kicking and punching. While not all students will go on to become instructors and leaders within our organisation, we need to offer them this opportunity.
We will not be able to run our dojang or hold positions of responsibility for ever, therefore it is incumbent on us to create the leaders of tomorrow to fill the void that we will eventually leave. This isn’t so much about preparing for retirement or death, rather this is a means of preparing for when we are called on to move into higher duties or on to other roles. Too often we decline opportunities offered to us, or we take on too many additional responsibilities, because we believe no one else could do the job that needs to be done.
If you are on a committee or in a position of responsibility, start looking around for your replacement. They may not be needed right now, but by starting the process early we can begin preparing them for the future. Don’t allow your ego to get int the way; empower those in lower positions to rise up and take responsibility by providing them opportunities to learn and grow. When someone departs a position they have held for several years, they take with them experience that cannot be replaced overnight. If we can replace them with someone that has been prepared for the role and has the support of the outgoing person, we can ensure a smooth transition, stability and continuity.
But how does this benefit us right now? By having our replacement ready (or in progress), we are able to look upwards and outwards for what’s coming next. If we get bogged down in the day-to-day work necessary for keeping our current role functioning, we become oblivious to the big picture issues. However, if we know the people coming after us are capable and adept, we’re free to start thinking more strategically. Consider how beneficial that will be to the long-term success of your dojang, regional committee, country federation and our organisation as a whole.
HC Hwang, Kwan Jang Nim regularly talks about strengthening our foundations. Those foundations are both the technical skills of Soo Bahk Do and the stability of our organisation. By developing a robust succession plan for our future leadership, we can ensure Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan not only survives but prospers well past our time.
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Kim Wyles, instructor at Sydney Moo Duk Kwan
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