Student Retention – a kwoon killer.
Student Retention is one of the harder aspects of keeping a successful Kwoon functioning. I am sure there are unlimited reasons why people stop training. But in this blog I want to focus on just a few. Burnout, lack of long term discipline, and loss of the enjoyable experience.
Burnout is a very valid excuse, especially in a kwoon as busy as our's. Not only do we have 20+ classes a week covering five disciplines, but there are the extracurricular seminars and workshops, and the seemingly endless performances and demonstrations as well. We are on track to make a new record with over 100 performances for 2017! So burnout for some students is a very real prospect. The upside is that it is harder to burn out doing something you love and that has so many positive benefits!
Long term discipline is one of the hardest things to maintain. We have all made New year's resolutions that are lucky to last the first month of twelve. It is even harder when you realise that discipline is a promise you make to yourself. And you are the only one holding yourself accountable to maintain that promise. How easy is it to let that discipline slide. If your discipline slips so too does your ability (train one day, gain one days results, miss one day lose ten days results), your status (the ego battles with the fact that Sidai/Simoi may now be a higher grade and more refined skills than yourself), and your momentum suffers (forming and then maintaining a habit leads to smooth progress).
Losing the enjoyable experience you had at the beginning of your training can lead to quitting. We live in the experience economy and are constantly looking for any experience that is so enjoyable it makes us happy and we want to return time and time again.I used to lecture in Colleges teaching Chinese and Japanese medicine. After 12 years I realised I was no longer happy doing this. In fact, when I received the latest timetable for teaching I had a feeling of dread. This was a clear sign I didn't want the experience anymore. So I resigned.
We try and give an experience in every class that leads to feeling good, even though the training can be physically and mentally difficult. Changing grades, partners, or instructors can lead to different experiences than what you are used too. That's life. But if it occurs too often then the student may not want to return. This is something the Sifu and instructors need to constantly monitor and improve where needed. If we lose more students than are joining then this spells the end of the Kwoon. Keeping Students happy and progressing while continually have new students join (and stay too) means we are here for the long term.
Sometimes outside influences may affect the experience you have at training. We should learn to leave these pressures, problems, and stressors at the front door of the Kwoon. There is nothing you can do about them for the next 60-90 minutes anyway. Focus on the training and then pick up where you left off on your way out the door. If there are outside influences you need to deal with (and I would say that is 100% of us) then approach them with wisdom, temperance, justice, and courage - the Four Cardinal Virtues of Stoicism.
Feedback from you will allow Sifu to help you with possible burnout, inspire you to maintain your discipline, and to evolve more enjoyable experiences in the training. Don't give up so easily, strive for constant self development, never be satisfied with your current level, and have fun! Your continued presence means a lot to many people, inside the kwoon and out!