“I teach. You do. No questions”

Do you also love the Miyagi leadership philosophy?

After having watched the final episode of the American series Cobra Kai yesterday, the 16-year-old insisted that we revisited The Karate Kid movie.

Halfway through the movie Mr. Miyagi agrees to teach Daniel karate, and it’s when Daniel starts questioning his methods, Mr. Miyagi says:

“I teach. You do. No questions.”

At first glance this sentence contradicts the essence of my own leadership philosophy: That the only way to lead other people is to let them ask their own questions.

But when I think of what precedes, I realize that the only reason Mr. Miyagi can ask Daniel to do what he teaches without questions is that he already answered the most important questions any protégé has for his mentor:

  • Can I trust you?
  • Do you know what I need?
  • Are you willing to help me?
  • Do things get better when I follow you?

Mr. Miyagi’s way of answering these questions is to:

  • Listen to Daniel’s problems
  • Help him solve them (e.g. repair his bike)
  • Defend him against people who want to hurt him
  • Show him the way (postpone the fight)

In short: Before Mr. Miyagi asks Daniel to do what he teaches, he builds trust.

That's why I love the Miyagi leadership philosophy.

And you?

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