I recently received a compliment from a student that prompted me to write the following response. After I had written it I thought it would be good to share with you all so you can see my vision for the community and help me continue to craft it with you.
The student wrote:
A quick review of your community here...
Going through all of the threads it really seems that this is an environment of available, constructive support.
Well thank YOU sir for the kind words, and taking the time to notice the kind of efforts we put in here. And it's not just me, but Coach Ben and the rest of Team Courage Community, not to mention all our fellow members.
I am not unaware of the bad behaviors of other coaches and I've always positioned myself against that nonsense. I've been very fortunate in my life to have fantastic role models, parents, teachers, and coaches who I look to emulate and improve upon.
This community is model after 2 places - one virtual and one real. The virtual one was the old Boston Men's Symposium "pickup lair" which was an independent entity from any well-known coach or company. It was founded and run by an aspiring dating coach, but he didn't use it as a funnel for his business too much - though maybe he should have. I advertise a lot more in here than he ever did.
In any case, the culture of the forum was PURE helpfulness. Everyone was commenting on everyone else's threads in order to help each other improve. We had a culture of radical honesty with each other for the most part - and I don't recall anyone being shitty to anyone or making fun of them for their mistakes.
Perhaps I'm viewing the past with rose-colored glasses but the only arguments I recall getting into were about technique and theory and never ad hominem attacks or devolving into disrespect.
It was completely UNLIKE most social media platforms.
I think the biggest factor that made it that way was the fact that we all had routine plans to see each other at least once a month if not more... we would all get together for group sarge (sarging = going out specifically to practice pickup) events where someone would be the designated group leader and we'd go out to practice day or night game. Yes, I ran the daygame events.
So if you talked too much shit, you wouldn't be very welcome at the live events. I think that's what helped keep everything civil - we didn't look at each other as faceless internet handles and instead saw each other as real people that we would be spending real time with.
The group wasn't huge either. That helps a lot with the feeling of intimacy and knowing each other. I want this group to be large enough to support the lifestyle I want, but not so large that it losses it's magic. I guess we'll have to see where that line actually is.
The second community I model this after is my BJJ school. I've been training BJJ in the same place for 13 years and I always cite that as the true start to the most important leg of my personal development journey.
Because of the inherent difficulty of making progress in BJJ, it's to the benefit of the school to be warm, inviting, friendly, familial, in touch with the students in a meaningful way, and compassionate towards the student's fears of injury or discouragement.
At the same time, it can't allow for too much ego or victim mentality or not only will the student in question not make progress, he will harm the progress of other students.
In other words, the skill we're trying to build is so difficult that it has to handled with love if we hope to make long-term progress - but at the same time we must work towards embracing that difficulty and rewiring our responses to normalize accepting challenges, overcoming rejection, and handling "failure" skillfully.
In both of my examples above, the feeling of brotherhood and going through a shared, intense, life-altering experience were heavily present. We all looked at what we were doing - be it dating, or martial arts - as something that was highly beneficial in both the short and long-term, uncommonly pursued, somewhat unique, hard enough to be proud of, and something that led us to feeling a greater sense of meaning, purpose, and connectedness in our lives.
We enjoyed struggling together much more than struggling alone. In fact, the togetherness changed the feeling of the struggle into something that was no longer a lonely, isolating pursuit that kept us feeling different or broken when compared to "normal" people - but rather an honorable, bonding activity that led us back towards the simple truths of life; like hard work paying off, what it truly means to be a social species, and that honesty and authenticity are always the best policies.
I'm very proud that I seem to have managed to transpose the benefits of the communities that have so greatly benefitted me, and I hope to continue to provide what you've all come to know, as well as seek improvements and enhancements to our features and culture.
I want you to all be able to loudly and shamelessly exclaim, I AM A PROUD MEMBER OF THE COURAGE COMMUNITY!