My sons are 7 and 10 and have their Brown Sr. belts in Taekwondo. They are members of the Black Belt Club, which means they show a Black Belt attitude, and attend classes two times a week. As I sit and listen to their Master Instructor talk about the principles of Taekwondo, I always draw the connection between  those tenets and the customer experience. (It’s a hazard of the profession!) He teaches these principles, as well as self-confidence and respect, because his goal is to create leaders. I love that! What a great age to start teaching kids what it means to be a leader.

In class this week, their Master Instructor talked about Loyalty, and I thought, “OK, I can do this. Let’s get it down on paper!”

“As a true martial artist, you must put these principles into practice every single day of your life, as well as at the Dojang, so they become part of you as a person.”  

If companies practice these principles in their business dealings, then they become part of the fabric of who they are as organizations. That alone should create lifelong, profitable relationships with their customers. And, by the way, these are great values to practice as leaders and to look for, or instill, in employees.

Being humble and not becoming bigheaded no matter what your achievements means that you do not become satisfied with your technique. As soon as this starts to happen, you become complacent with your performance.

Indomitable Spirit
This refers to your voice inside that tells you to practice continually until you are more at ease with the technique. Having the right attitude and maintaining inner strength regardless of winning or losing. Not allowing one’s principle to be broken, defeated, or conquered. When bad times strike, that spirit in you won’t be crushed. Keep trying. Go further than you ever thought possible.

Martial arts techniques are difficult and can never be fully mastered. Perseverance reminds us that there is always something that can be improved, no matter how flexible or technical you are. It means to never give up, no matter how hard things are, to persist in an endeavor in spite of counter-influences, opposition, or discouragement. You can do anything you want, if you keep trying.

This one is a no-brainer as it relates to customer experience, but here’s what they say about it in Taekwondo. Loyalty should be a two-way system: instructors should be loyal to students, and vice versa. (Customers are loyal to companies, and companies should reciprocate.) Stay true to your friends. Tell the truth. Be honest and stand up for what you believe in. Never let someone else’s standards and morals affect you unless you believe in them yourself. The only way to make a true decision is by gaining as much information as you can and making up your own mind. Trust and credibility lead to loyalty.

Without etiquette, the whole martial art philosophy, which is built on respect, would collapse. Hopefully by learning respect inside the Dojang, students will continue to practice outside of the Dojang and become more respectful as a person.

Honor means respect. Students should honor their instructor, fellow students, and themselves. (O, and their parents, too!)

Enduring respect for, and consideration of, self and others. Being polite, even to people you find it hard to be around or those rude to you. Listening to others.

Steadfast adherence to a strict moral and ethical code. Honesty. Doing the right thing. Doing what you say you are going to do.

Ability to exert your will over your inhibitions, impulses, emotions, and desires. Control yourself so you don’t harm others. Patience. Discipline. Staying focused. Not veering down the wrong path.

Treating others with kindness. We show respect at the Dojang by showing good eye contact with the instructor when he is talking. We always reply, “Yes, sir” or “No, sir.” And we bow.

I think it’s easy to see how each of these principles can apply to leadership, your company culture, and the customer experience.

The Five Tenets of Taekwondo
Taekwondo Training