Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t — you’re right.
For today’s Something Significant interview, we are getting to know Karen Conover. Karen is an entrepreneur, educator, and fourth-degree Black Belt Tae Kwon Do Master. She owns and runs KC’s Family Tae Kwon Do in Northern Arizona, with more than 200 students attending her school. Karen holds a Master’s Degree in Music Education and has 20+ years of experience teaching children in public and private schools, as well as adults in classroom, corporate, and workshop settings.
We are partnering with Karen for an exciting and luxurious retreat in March 2015 that we will share more about next Friday! We think you will find her interview insightful and inspiring…
Tell us a little about yourself and how you got where you are today?
I am the youngest of five kids, all of us musicians and educators of some sort. I have four kids myself, two biological and two foster, and one grandchild. After teaching college and high school band and playing trombone professionally in the Philadelphia and New York areas for 10 years, I moved to Arizona. I became passionate for martial arts at that point. I have always been a teacher of some sort, ever since I was young, so I parlayed that calling into a career with martial arts. Creating my schools (KC’s Family Tae Kwon Do) has been one of the best things I have ever done. I use the vehicle of martial arts to help inspire people to become their best selves in life. I can’t imagine a more rewarding career for me than this one.
How has significance played a role in your journey?
Significance, to me, means having a lasting impact on others. Doing work that matters. Teaching is how this manifests in my life. I have always been good at helping and inspiring others — whether in a classroom, in business, or within my family. I believe that being a mother is the ultimate form of doing something significant, it’s just another, higher form of teaching. It’s only recently that I have developed a deep gratitude for being a teacher and the significance it holds. This realization has added so much more meaning to my life.
Was there a specific moment or situation when you became aware of those things that are most significant to you?
There are three major events that have had tremendous life-changing impact on my life — the birth of my first child, the death of my mom, and the grief process that came with the recent loss of my 20-year marriage. They became catalysts for honing in on what’s most important, for learning what I’m supposed to learn, and for how I can walk my path the best way that I know how from that point. The “learning-teaching-learning” cycle never ends, and being a good student is key to being a good teacher. I like to think that I learn from my experiences and step forward better than before. This is how I can grow as a person and then help others.
What obstacles have you faced in your pursuit of significance? How did you overcome them?
The biggest obstacle is always yourself and what baggage you carry with you in life. When I face a challenge, I try to look deeply at myself and where I’m getting in my own way. This is never easy, and it’s an ongoing practice, but it’s the only way to truly grow through the difficult moments. This work of facing your fears and overcoming obstacles is like coming out of your comfort zone, which is where learning and growth begins. I don’t like making mistakes, but it’s important to me that learn from them.
What is one thing you wish you knew 10 years ago?
Only one thing? Wow, there are so many things I know now that I didn’t then! I believe that we all do the best we can with what we know at the time. Trying to remember that is important when looking back. But here goes on just one thing…
Ten years ago I was on a quest for excellence in my life. I was striving for doing “things” that would “net” me something. I wanted to be the best teacher, have the most successful school, to be recognized for it, to make money at it, etc. I wouldn’t take that back, that drive was important for developing a stable career and finances. But now I have a different perspective on how I live my life. I have found that the most rewarding “net gain” isn’t money or being the best, it’s, well, significance.
Helping the people in my life experience true personal growth, and then expressing gratitude for that by passing it on to others is the best thing there is. It’s being more of a witness to what I can give to people, rather than what I can get out of it. Of course, we need money and those other things to live and sustain a business, but we need significance for happiness in our life. If I had this perspective ten years ago, I would have lived daily with a much better balance and appreciation in all areas of my life. So, ten years ago I wish I had known just that — how to give (and love) without expecting anything else in return.
What is one hope you have for the next 10 years?
I have a few! I hope I continue to grow through my life lessons, never stop exploring life beyond my comfort zone, never stop learning, and that I live in true happiness with love, inspiration and positivity, so that I can help others to do the same.
Are there any books or resources you would like to recommend to our readers?
I am a starter of many books. I love to read, but often don’t have the time to complete them. The speed in my life is busy, fast, and furious right now so I like quick and inspirational. My favorite internet resources for getting that fix are HappyLiving.com and TinyBuddha.com.
Images via Karen Conover