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Champions ATA Martial Arts

Nobility: A Thesis by Master Travis Dillow

Posted: April 25, 2017


Since the beginning of time cultures, people groups, and civilizations have always had a class structure in place. For some, it was social-economic, for others it was based on skill. But for many, the highest class was simply offered to those who had the right last name, sons of royalty were always welcome into the upper crust of society. Nobility, is a rank established for the supreme, those that are noble. Noble is the adjective that leads to the noun of nobility. Being noble simply means to achieve a high rank or title, and for each culture, there are different standards by which one would be described as noble. Nobility is the noun that describes you once you are there. In both leadership and life, there is always a desire for self-starting leaders to achieve the highest rank or title they can within the organization that they lead. Very few organizations would refer to that status as nobility, but they quite possibly could. The office or title of nobility come with a list of assumptions about the person who carries that title, they have risen above the noise in their trade, and they are the best of the best. Whether your organization carries the position of nobility with it or not, as a leader striving to be his or her best, we should all strive for nobility, at least in our own right. There are many attributes that lead to a person being noble, thus gaining the title of nobility. I believe four of the most important are being respectful, compassionate, selfless, and intelligent. For anyone striving to be the best at what they do, and be seen by others as nobility, they must be very intentional about those four characteristics. With my experience in leadership I have learned that at the end of the day, there is no substitution for the core values of respect, compassion, selflessness, or intelligence. Let’s talk briefly about each of those four and how they can put you on a path that leads to nobility.


Respectful: Respect is to show a positive feeling of esteem for a person or entity, and it has very little to do with what you say. As parents, we teach our kids manners, tell them to say “yes sir” and “yes ma’am,” and always tell them to be respectful. But in reality, respect doesn’t start with what you say, but how you feel. Look at the definition again, respect is to show a positive feeling of esteem for a person or entity. This may surprise you, but I truly feel that respect is an emotion, or at least it starts there. Lip service does very little to show people respect, but how you feel towards them will lead to how you treat them and what you say to them. In fact I would submit that false respect, words not followed by actions, leave the person feeling placated instead of respected. Getting yourself to a place where you have a positive feeling about a person can be tough, and it takes some time, but it is possible. The hardest people to respect are the ones you don’t have a natural chemistry with, but people of nobility have mastered the art of respecting them for who they are or what they do. Respect starts with the heart, the seat of emotions and is communicated through actions and words. So how does a leader in training start to learn how to feel respect? They don’t worry about showing it; that will come naturally once they feel it.

Can you respect someone that you don’t like? Yes, and you should is my short answer to that. There are many reasons why we don’t like a person, and no one is expected to like everyone that they meet. Each personality is different, and it is simply impossible for you as a leader to like each one of them, and for each one of them to like you. Mark Twain once said “I don’t know what the key to success is, but I am certain that the key to failure is trying to please everyone.” Any experienced leader knows that he or she isn’t going to be able to please everyone and make friends all the time. Now, with that said, respect is different; you don’t have to like someone to respect them. Remember, respect is a positive feeling towards a person or entity. You can learn to feel positive about a person and what they do without liking them. You have probably heard people say “I don’t like them, but I respect them”. Respect is different than liking a person, respect is feeling positive towards them, which starts with an understanding. There are many people in my life that I don’t necessarily like, but I have a great deal of positive feelings towards who they are and what they do. Let me give you an example. On my staff there is an individual who is a nice guy, talented at what he does, but we have nothing in common. I have positive feelings for him, wish him well and would do anything in power to help him succeed in both life and work. When it comes to doing life with this guy, I will pass; we have nothing in common and haven’t found a topic that we both agree on. I simply don’t like him, but understand that he is great at what he does and works hard at doing it—therefore I respect him. Nobility is reserved for the individual who is able to move pass the Jr. High mentality of friendship and realize that relationships have several different levels and components to them, and respect is one of those. For you to say you can’t respect someone you don’t like, then you also have to take the side of the argument that says you can’t respect someone that you don’t know. Or you have to know someone to respect them. When you find people in your world, to be a noble leader you must respect them, even if you don’t like them. Everyone has attributes in their life that you can feel positive about, find those and respect them. Capitalize on the good in people; learn to believe the best about them. The natural tendency is to be drawn to the negative in people; any small leader can do that. It takes a person of nobility to mine out the positive and respect that.

As a leader, work on that and the rest of respect will come. All of the words you need to say and actions you need to show. The easy part of respect is communicating it, the hard part is actually feeling it. Nobility is reserved for those who have mastered this art and have learned how to lead their heart into directions that produce respect.


Compassion: Every person of Nobility is a person of compassion, or at least every person of true Nobility is. Compassion is probably one of the dearest personality traits to my heart, because without compassion everything else we do is generally for ourselves. Compassion is actually a component of love, it is a feeling of sympathy and empathy towards others. Sympathy is when you feel sorry for a person hurting, empathy is when you hurt with others that are hurting. It is a natural reaction based on the level of love that one carries in his or her heart. Any great leader must be a compassionate leader, a leader the both aches and cares for those that are hurting or broken. Compassion goes beyond not liking a situation for a person, compassion drives you to do anything you can to try and fix whatever situation people may find themselves in, whether you know them or not. Compassionate leaders are great listeners, slow to judge, and quick to share their heart with those that they lead. People love following a compassionate leader, in fact they love it so much they elevate them to the rank of Nobility in a hurry. They say in Major League Baseball the fastest way to become a big leaguer is to be a catcher, there aren’t many of them in the minor leagues. Well in leadership the fastest way towards Nobility is to be a compassionate leader, there aren’t many of them out there.  When a leader is compassionate he or she has the rare ability to see the full picture of what they are leading as well as the consequences of every decision they make. A leader without compassion will make decisions that are best for them or the organization, while a compassionate leader sees the whole, and responds accordingly. People are hurting all around, that will never change, and not to quote an old saying but ‘people don’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care’. This is never truer in leadership, in fact people really don’t care what you think, say, or do, until they know that you authentically care.


Selfless: Here are two words that will never go to together, selfish and leader. I don’t care how you excuse it, being a selfish leader is more of an oxymoron than saying jumbo shrimp. If you really understand the principle of leadership, then you get the fact that you cannot be selfish and a leader at the same time. Leaders aren’t in place to have people serve them, but rather leaders are in place to serve people around them. A leader should be the head servant, the one who sets the pace on sacrifice and servanthood. A person who has reached Nobility is a person who has a resume of caring about others more than he or she cares about themselves. Putting others first is not only one of the greatest joys in life and a true key to happiness, but it is the wheel house of any great leader. Think about it, if you live your life for yourself, then the only things you are going to be able to accomplish are those things that have a direct benefit on you. That is a very narrow audience, and in doing so, you cut yourself off from everyone else around you. Noble leaders have a heart to help people, serve people, and their greatest success is seeing other people enjoy and succeed in their work and life. Selfless leaders go to clinic everyday on making decisions that have a positive effect on other people. I know what I want, I think I know what I need, and those decisions are easy to make. If all I had to do in life was make decision to make me happy then life would be a breeze, not to mention that my mental capacity of leadership would never be challenged. When a leader focuses on others, their life becomes something that you have to manage on a day to day and even hour by hour moment. You are forced to weigh options, consider outcomes, and work through the challenges of making the biggest impact on the most amount of people at a time. Looking out for #1 has never served anyone well, but looking out for others makes for a content and happy leader. Happy leaders are successful leaders, nearly 100% of the time. You are not the most important person in your life, in fact you aren’t even in the top ten. Nobility recognizes that you have proven this fact with how you live your life, not on stage but in the dark when nobody is watching. Life is too short to make it all about you, when you die you will leave a legacy. The legacy of a selfish person will rot, but the legacy of a selfless leader will last for eternity.


Intelligence: A Noble leader must be intelligent, and intelligent leaders must be noble. Intelligence is not knowing everything, but being intelligent is having the capacity to learn, reason, and adapt in situations. Intelligent people aren’t easily freaked out, and seldom acted surprised. In the end, intelligence has very little to do with how much you know, but more to do with how much can you learn. Leaders must be intelligent, they must be problem solvers who have the capacity to remain calm and collected even when the wheels are falling off the organization. Intelligence is such a huge part of noble leadership simply because when you are in the trenches of life, there are thousands of split second adaptations and decisions that you have to make to accomplish the vision and goal. Intelligent leaders don’t have a freak out button, at least not in public. They carry some stress but are able to compartmentalize it into areas they can manage. Intelligent leaders are generally slow to speak, slow to become angry, but always quick to show compassion. Intelligence understands that there is always a solution to be discovered, they patiently work, pray, and discuss until that solution reveals itself. I have never met a leader who has told me that they wished they would have rushed into more decisions, or reacted to more situations. Intelligence dictates that the leader responds over time when it is right. Leaders who can adapt their agenda, plan, or strategy are intelligent leaders. Non-intelligent leaders get so set on the plan in front of them that no matter what unforeseen situations arise they push forward simply to stick to the plan. It isn’t that hard to put a plan together, and it isn’t that hard to execute that plan. The hard thing in leadership is adapting the plan around obstacles, taking a little different route, but still ending up with the same end game that was originally decided on. It takes intelligent leaders to do this. Stop freaking out over the problems, and don’t let them manage you. Poor leaders are managed by the problems, intelligent and noble leaders manage the problems around them. It all comes down to what you let define you. For me, I want to be defined by my inner strength to lead and care for people. I will not compromise that no matter how rough the journey might get. Unintelligent leaders are often defined by their problems, or by what is not going right. When society sees a leader that is un-waving, even in the face of trials, they want to honor that person, we honor him or her with the title of Nobility.


Nobility is a great word, but an even greater honor. A person that has achieved this is one that the world will not soon forget, or at least the world that he or she lived in. The very root of nobility boils down to how you treat other people, and how you respond to others in tough times. You can snap, lose your temper, or start the blame game, but that is not noble. Whether you are leading a little league team or a fortune 500 company, being noble is what will take you to the next level and help you accomplish more while you are doing it.