At a recent large gathering of his member schools, the head of my martial arts organization discussed the importance of obligation. He gave a very simple example: that if you’re walking down the halls of your organization, what ever it may be, and see a piece of trash on the floor, you’re obligated to pick it up. This served as an analogy to all of us coming to that set of arduous training sessions. On the surface, it seemed like something that was not required – that it was just some extra event. It was in fact the opposite. We were actually obligated to be there. In a way, the head of the organization was preaching to the choir. Many of the martial artists present at this gathering at traveled a long way, some hundreds of miles. Still, it was a message that needed to be passed down to those not present. And the message says much about the very important relationship between an organization and its members.
Obligations run two ways. While a member is must have conscientiousness and take responsibility at any opportunity for their organization, their organizations in turn must provide a nurturing environment. It must treat its members with respect and acknowledge their contributions. The exchange of give and take must run both ways. As the organization takes what its members do for it, it must give back appropriately. Likewise, as members benefit (take) from the organization, they must be ready to give, even when it beyond regular responsibility (think: picking up the trash or traveling a long way for an event).
This applies beyond martial arts organizations, to the organizations where we work as well. Are you willing to put in that “extra” helpfulness when your organization would benefit from the dedication? Conversely, is this obligation really so? Does your organization provide a supporting environment? Does it recognize commitment? Does it reward loyalty in meaningful ways? Or does your organization require you to do more and more work without acknowledging your labors? If your organization is not treating you well, you certainly won’t heed the call to step up. There is no obligation.
So which kind of organization would you rather be a part of? Would you rather not have any obligations and have the organization respond in kind? Or would you prefer to be a part of nurturing environment, and be ready to fulfill the obligations it entails?