I ran across the following post called “Ready to Test for Your Belt” that echoes some of my thinking about belts, and moving up from one level of skills to another. It originates from David Allen, the author of the book “Getting Things Done®.”
“READY TO TEST FOR YOUR BELT?”Lately some rather sophisticated people have asked me what I initially thought was a rather unsophisticated question: “How do I know what belt I’m at?” In other words, in the martial art of workflow, they wanted to know how well they were doing – how far they were from earning the coveted black belt in the Getting Things Done school of self management. One, a senior engineer, said, “David, you keep referring to ‘black belt’ and several of the attributes it signifies. There must be some way to determine how far along we might be in that continuum.” Though he excused his curiosity in the matter to his system-oriented mindset, I realized he had a good point. When I studied karate, the belt rankings were highly useful as milestones, often motivating me to keep going when I would hit plateaus in my training during which I wasn’t very aware of my progress. As I went from white to green to brown belt rankings over the course of four years, I could sense the next level up as a reachable step, when black belt would seem too elusive a goal.
So for those of you who may share that interest in some kind of marker for determining your rank, I’ll proffer a set of characteristics for the belts.
I find his comments above to be similar to my own thinking about the fact that a belt system helps people to organize their thinking and find ways to make steady progress on their own.