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Kovar Systems
Business Tips

Stop Holding Yourself Back

By Nick Wilson

As part of my role with the Satori Instructor Alliance, I get the chance to connect with school owners across the country and around the world. This means several times every week I take calls from school owners who are seeking business coaching in one form or another.  On these calls, my job is to try to understand where they are at, where they want to go, what’s holding them back, and help them develop a plan to get there. After doing this for some time I’ve started to see patterns in what these school owners say and how they say it, as well as how these phrases translate into future actions and success. At this point, I can usually determine how they’ll do based on these responses alone.  Unfortunately, a lot of people aren’t ready to receive help yet, even when they know they need it. You see, during these calls, when I ask the question, “What’s keeping you from reaching the goals you want?” I’ll often get responses like: 

  • “I can’t get more students/leads in the door”
  • “I always take a big student loss during the summertime”
  • “I always lose my students to baseball/football/soccer”
  • “I don’t have the staff I need”
  • “There’s so much competition in the area, it’s hard to grow”
  • “My population is too small to create a large school”
  • “I don’t have enough time, and I’m running around like crazy”

I could keep going but you get the idea.  I’m sure you’ve had similar thoughts, as almost all of us have had at one point. Sadly, these owners are stuck in these beliefs. They are absolutely certain that these circumstances are fact, and that there’s nothing they can do about it. In some cases, they have been called “Master,” “Professor,” or “Sensei” for so many years by students and staff that they are convinced they know all the answers already or have otherwise seen it all. Sometimes it can be difficult to drop your ego and be open and receptive to new ways of doing things.  These limiting beliefs will keep them where they are at until they can take ownership for changing them.

You may have heard the phrase, “success leaves clues.”  That is really what this write-up is all about.  I’ve been fortunate enough to be mentored by Kyoshi Dave Kovar for over twenty years. I still get the opportunity to grapple with him at least once a week, as he still trains more consistently than 99% of the 20-year-old guys out there! This training ethic is the same as his work ethic, and he often reminds us of the phrase “Successful people will do what unsuccessful people won’t.” Mr. Kovar has achieved what many in the martial arts industry only dream of. Starting his first karate school right out of high school, now here he is 40 years later, running 8 schools averaging 350 students each. Kyoshi Kovar has made a point of mentoring his staff to habitually self-analyze, because he knows that this is the foundation, and that those limiting beliefs mentioned earlier can be a dangerous trap that’s hard to escape. 

As a contrast to the negative patterns I see more often than I’d like, here are consistent patterns I see with Kyoshi Kovar, our clients, and others in the industry that achieve success:

  • They approach their business with energy! It’s not the same old, same old – it’s “carpe diem,” baby!
  • They will challenge their limiting beliefs. If I say, “I always take a big student loss during summer” enough times over and over with enough intensity, I start to believe it as fact.  Winners challenge these beliefs and allow others to challenge them as well.
  • They will find someone who’s achieved what they want to achieve and model after them.
  • They will implement best practices with massive action. They don’t just learn the tools, they execute! It’s what you do when no one is watching that counts the most.
  • They will record their numbers! What’s worse than losing the game is to not even know you’re losing! Keep track of key metrics and measure them with others to find opportunities for improvement.

With these successful patterns in mind, I challenge you to challenge any of your own limiting beliefs.  What is one limiting belief that is holding you back? How will this limiting of yourself affect you in 1, 5, 10, or 20 years down the line? Your students deserve you at your best!


Dave Kovar and the Kovar Systems Team will be at the 2018 Martial Arts SuperShow this July 1st through July 3rd. Visit us on the tradefloor at Booth #119 for special show offers! 

If you cannot make the show, we will also have some free content that you can access by visiting the URL www.kovarsystems.com, available only on July 1st at 6am PST through July 3rd at midnight PST.

by Nick Wilson