Friday, August 24, 2012

Thoughts on Humility

I have always considered myself as a white belt at heart, or : a white belt with a resume.

In the martial arts, we train for confidence and competence.  We should also train to instill virtues such as self confidence, respect and humility.  Humility is one of those oft misunderstood words. The vision that most people think of is a person who is used as a doormat. The true person really has a quiet confidence which is unassuming and unpretentious.

Charles Spurgeon once said “Light houses do not sound cannons and ring bells to announce their presence; they only shine.”
 My Daughter Hannah helped me with this picture

So, what does the idea of a white belt with a resume mean?
In short, we are all learning. Some days you can learn more from white belts than anyone else!  The day we stop learning should be the day that they throw dirt in our faces . . .  And put us 6 feet under! Until that time, we should be learning.  If we are not learning, or not willing to learn, the problem may be one of two things:

  •     We forget how to learn

  •     We let our pride interfere


We forget how to learn

A term that is used in many genres of training is “they hit a plateau”
It ‘s sort of like that with learning.  I was once told that in the old days of karate there were two belts: white and black.  A person’s belt became dirty with training.  Traditionally, the belt was never washed and the more training one did, the dirtier the belt became until the day came that they were a master (black belt).  The belt has many layers and eventually the  outer black layer became tattered and wore away revealing another flesh white layer. Therefore; learning continues.

Somewhere in the mix people think they have “arrived”. A great accomplishment or some goal may give that appearance, and we are tempted to rest on our laurels. Another danger of success is forgetting what got us there.  I deal with adult students every day that have not warmed a desk seat in years, and the must re-learn how to learn.  It takes a great deal of maturity to swallow your pride, admit that you don’t know something and memorize, adapt and practice a new skill.  I truly love seeing adults get that look on their face when they learn something and it enlightens them.  It’s like seeing school boys with bright happy eyes (only sometimes with a lost more vulgarity- hey I work in adult education… I never said they were the salt of the earth!)

Sometimes we must think in pictures, or pretend and rehearse a fact or task. Other times we must put the new material into a term or illustration that is familiar to us. I often use the chocolate chip cookie recipe to explain metallurgy,

We let our pride interfere

In my work out bag, I keep a white belt cased in a food saver bag.  I did this because of a story Kyoshi Wilcox shared with me:

“When I was in the Navy I trained in a lot of schools…. I carried two belts with me white and black…… I may be a black belt in my home school but in his school I am a white belt.”

There is a great lesson in humility here.
Look at the parable Jesus shared in Luke 14:8-11?

The point of the parable was not to put oneself in an elevated position and later be humbled, but to give place to others, and later be exalted.
The journey of self discovery means constantly working on ones self, whether it  be in church or the dojo.

No comments:

Post a Comment