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Because I'm in the Leadership program at my ATA school, my Instructor asked me to think of a way to serve others in my town. I decided to pick up trash at a park near my house so that kids like me would have a clean place to play. My Mom and Dad and even my little brother helped. It was kinda gross, but I had fun. I really like helping people!
– Paxton Thomas, Yellow Belt, 9 years old

From ATA World Volume 19, Number 4 Winter 2012

If ATA were a rock band, Chief Master William Babin would be the one keeping the beat, and not just because he moonlights as drummer and founder of the classic rock cover band The Big Zephyr. The 60-year-old owner of Babin’s ATA Martial Arts in Mesa, Ariz., joined the ATA as a graduate student in 1976. Since then, he’s earned his 8th Degree Black Belt and the title of Chief Master, and built a successful martial arts school, all by keeping a simple steady rhythm: Set and achieve goals—one punch, one kick at a time.

What’s your key to successful goal setting?

There’s nothing new about the way I approach it. It’s very old. But I think people really underestimate the power of writing that goal down and putting a date on it. There’s a sense of accountability attached to writing it down. Sometimes we let a system drag us along or tell us what to do next. But writing down our goals puts us in charge— it’s taking control of ourselves.


You’ve blogged about what you call “goal-stealers.” What are some of those things that compromise achiev­ing our goals?


The entire digital world is the number one goal-stealer. The idea of being connected or plugged in all the time, it just sucks time and attention. If it’s important, the [person who wants to reach you] will leave a voice mail.

How can stu­dents rebound after a setback?

If you have the goal clear, the action steps clear, and you’ve used an expert coach, then you have a plan for dealing with disappointment. Go back, check the list, talk to an instructor: “Here’s my plan, sir. Here are my action steps. Where did I go wrong?”
We’re entering a new year, a great time for setting goals.

What tips can you offer for re-evaluating last year’s goals and recalibrat­ing accordingly?

A huge sense of accomplishment is derived from tracking stuff. For example, if a student attended 62 classes in 2012, that’s a basis for a new goal. [He or she] should attend 100 classes in 2013. We have to know where we’ve been. Then we can reevaluate our goals for 2013. ATA