War stories, as they’re called, can serve a purpose in illustrating a point however, we can never lose sight of the fact that only the student’s performance matters. Unless they can carry the instructor around in a quick release carrying case, the instructor or coach’s ability to unleash havoc will mean little to the student when the student faces an emergency situation. In a world where only performance counts, the student’s performance is the only thing that will count when they’ve been selected by violent criminal actors.

We can tell our stories to illustrate the point, to make sure the student understands the why’s, the how’s and the where-with-alls yet, remember to remind the student that unless they have put in the time we have, trained as hard as we have, and paid the dues we have paid to own our experience? Their story might end very differently.

Instead of war stories maybe we should share stories of intense practice sessions, training sessions that left us exhausted. Training around injuries or illness. The days we wanted to quit but showed up and worked anyway. Stories of how we reached a point where we could succeed in the face of insurmountable odds. Think of the classic joke about Carnegie Hall; Mischa Elman was approached by two tourists. Seeing his violin case, they asked, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” Without looking up and continuing on his way, Elman simply replied, “Practice.”

The stories of this one time are entertaining but a more important story for you to share is the hours of practice it took to prepare you for that one time. Those stories might just motivate the student to do the work necessary to get to where we are and maybe even surpass us.