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May 19, 2023

Easton All-Staff: How Brave Would You Be If You Felt Supported?

Tatyana Grechina

Easton All-Staff: How Brave Would You Be If You Felt Supported?

In this month’s Easton All-Staff Podcast, Mike sat down with Easton’s martial arts program directors, Professor Alex Huddleston of Jiu Jitsu and Sean Madden of Muay Thai to talk about the product side of our operation – the martial arts.

You may have read about it in last week’s article, All-Hands: Building An Elevated Team + Forging Battle-Tested Martial Arts, but there was simply too much great content for one article.

While last week we focused on spear-heading Easton’s vision of building inclusive, battle-tested martial arts, and what it means to be a Program Director at Easton, this week we focus on building the foundation of trust and support  — having the hard conversations and creating a space where we can try new things, make mistakes, and grow together.

For the full episode, listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify!

Laying a foundation for trust

While an elevated role at Easton, such as a Department Head, provides a great chance to grow as a leader, it will also force you to grow as a person. This doesn’t always come in the form of leadership and the tight connection with higher level training from the Program Directors; many of the opportunities for growth are tucked into the difficult conversations, stress and failure you will face.

Sometimes, the difficult conversations come in the form of talks with students and members, but often they may also look like discussions with your colleagues, friends or superiors.


When working with such a large team, even an elevated and vetted one, conflict is going to arise. We’re all human, we all come from different backgrounds, and we all have egos trying to keep us from falling off a cliff, alerting us at the first signs of threat. 

Sometimes this can cause an emotional reaction, and sometimes this reaction can unintentionally create another one in response. However, no matter what the reaction may be, if you believe that what you’re doing is for the best collectively, then we will listen, setting our own feelings aside.

We know that what we can achieve by coming together is far greater than anything we can make alone, and to really thrive in any role you have to trust in this greater good as much as we do. If we knew we would be heard, and supported, what would we say? 

[Why We Leave Our Egos At The Door]

Becoming comfortable with failure

Even with our system set in place, Easton seeks constantly to evolve, improve, and flourish. This means we stay open to new ideas and focus on our own learning outside of the academy, bringing everything we can back in to elevate the company. 

In fact, it’s because we have systematized the core elements that you have the freedom to play and explore everything else. Though all of our schools operate under one umbrella and curriculum, each location has its own flavor and personality thanks to the crew who runs the ship.

This means that as a GM, or a Department Head leading your cast of staff and instructors, you have freedom to cultivate your community in your own way, and develop your unique relationship between your academy and its students. In fact, we encourage you to try and find creative solutions and bring new ideas to the table. 

“How brave could you become if you felt supported?” asks Professor Alex. “We want to create a space where you’re willing to try new things and make mistakes.”

Image: Rebecca Slaughter.

As we’ve said many times before, we’ve all made mistakes, we all have flaws. We’re all looking at it as an iterative process, at how best we can grow together. 

When you feel comfortable with the skills of your role, which we hope to get you to quickly, that’s when the real magic starts — when we see what you will do with your playground.  

“This is one of those communities where you’re really encouraged to try,” says Alex, “where you might even let go of your fear of failure because it’s not this hard stop.” And you can always question the system! Just ask.

When it comes to experimenting, if you’re a DH or even an instructor, how do you know what to experiment with?

Easy. First ask yourself — Is it in line with our core values of excellence, trust, compassion, stewardship?

If yes, then is it in line with our vision of inclusive, battle tested martial arts? If what you want to do hits those two things, then you’re not going to get in trouble for experimenting.

[The Truth About Failure]

This is the fun part, but it can also feel scary. Yes, the position is hard (if you’re a DH or a GM) but if you trust the space we’ve built for you, and the system in place, then you can take full advantage of the freedom to play and explore.

“Let’s create this system that gives you more freedom to be human with the people,” says Mike of what Easton strives for, “so you don’t have to think about the small things we’ve already figured out!” 

If you stay open to new possibilities, keep experimenting, learning, and stay curious, you will find success within your work just like you find success in your martial arts.

Image: Rebecca Slaughter.


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