I think Molly Ivins is funny and I liked her book with that title, but she is wrong, you do not always have to dance with them what brung you. In some cases, she’s right. She was talking about politics, but in sports, I would also often advise young athletes to be very skeptical of people who appeared and wanted to coach them after they had already become successful.
In both my current business, 7 Generation Games, and in my previous companies, I’ve always gone by the simple philosophy that we try things and if they raise income or reduce expenses, we do more of that thing and if it doesn’t, then we quit doing that thing. It’s worked well enough that I’ve been able to send three kids to college and support a fourth in training for the Olympics.
These days, Maria refers to our “North Star” at 7 Generation Games as our knowledge of what our customers want – software for education and training that is easy to use, not boring and reflective of the students, be they eighth-graders on a reservation or grandmothers in a major city.
Unlike the real North Star, though, your direction can change. I’ve been teaching judo for 50 years, ever since I was an assistant instructor at the YMCA. I’ve had students win medals in junior nationals, collegiate nationals, senior nationals and the Olympics. I’ve taught on the west side and in south LA (if you’re from Los Angeles, you know that’s a big gap). I’ve taught a preschool judo class, a college class, and for 15 years a class at a middle school. Without false modesty, I can say that I have mentored a great many people. And now I am done with that.
When I announced that this clinic I am doing in San Diego February 17 is my last one, a lot of people told me that I couldn’t just quit teaching judo. Many of them cited one instructor or another who had taught well into their eighties or nineties. Good for them. I hope they were happy. Telling me that ‘everyone else is going along with something’ didn’t work on getting me to do it in elementary school and it sure the hell isn’t going to start working now. A valid point some friends made is that this is a way I gave back to the community. I thought about that a lot, about the kids that I won’t be teaching in the upcoming years. I know a lot of administrators in Los Angeles Unified School District give less than a damn about the kids and I am not deluding myself into thinking that someone else will step up and take over the program at Gompers.
It’s time, though, for me to move on. I’ll be 66 this summer and I don’t move like I did. It’s time for younger people to take over teaching judo.
I worked as a consultant on the Spirit Lake Nation for 30 years, and a couple of years ago, I quit going back there. I hate below-zero weather and many of the good friends I had worked with for years had retired or passed away. I wanted to spend more time with my children and grandchildren and that’s exactly what I’ve done.
My point, and I do have one
I’ve had many people tell me that if they ever are in jail, I’ll be their one phone call. I’m guessing if you read this blog, you’re THAT PERSON, the responsible one in the room. You’re the one that can write a letter of recommendation, give a ride from the airport, Venmo money for an insurance payment, fill in as a substitute teacher. People count on you. That’s awesome.
I’m not saying that you should quit whatever you’re doing, sit home on your couch and watch soap operas. The only way you’d ever find me doing that is if someone had chained me to the couch and surgically removed my eyelids.
However, if you find that what you have been doing for five or fifty years isn’t suiting you any more, there’s nothing wrong with finding something else.
Since I quit working on the Spirit Lake Nation, my company has released seven more games – six in Spanish, one in English, one soon to be bilingual in Ojibwe and English. We now have seventeen Chromebook games, plus a half-dozen others for iOS and Android played by hundreds of thousands of kids.
If you’re THAT PERSON, there is a whole world out there that can use your help.