I’m talking about humble pie. Humble pie is one of the most necessary meals we all need to eat, but the least enjoyable to devour. Humble pie tastes horrible going down but in the long run is one of the most beneficial to consume. While this may just be an analogy, it is one that can prove useful. Humility is one of those character traits some of us pray for but really don’t want the process of being humbled. My mom used to frequently ask me what she could pray for and I distinctly remember saying, “Pray for humility.” Her response, “Are you sure?” She was right, the answered prayer did not come in a pleasant way. The process of getting humbled is often very unpleasant, uncomfortable and frustrating. However, on the flip side it causes us to grow, to be more resilient, to grow in strength, in mind and in character.
Webster’s dictionary defines humility as the freedom from pride or arrogance. Being humble can look different depending on application, but I have found a helpful definition to be: humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less. So in some ways humility can be taking your eyes off yourself and allowing yourself to see those around you. Another application would be to not focus so much on your present situation but to see the big picture. We talk about perspective all the time, as it is something that can be easily lost with the wrong focus. In the application to fitness it is important to maintain the correct perspective on where you’re at. To be mindful of your abilities, pushing to be your best every day, but not worried or focused on what others are doing.
That seems a little contradictory, but I want to flesh it out some. When you have some humility in your approach to your fitness, it allows you to have a crappy day in the gym and it be ok. It allows you to fail over and over, and still be able to get up and keep moving. Humility says, “Yes I pushed hard, and yes I failed. And it’s ok.” Maintaining the right perspective helps you to recognize and appreciate the success of others without feeling bad or sorry for yourself. This perspective allows certain aspects of life to carry less value in your self worth. Perspective in life is huge and can often dictate how we view ourselves or the world around us. A disproportionate perspective will leave you either under or overvaluing yourself in relation to the world around you. For example, someone who lacks humility will tend to think of themselves as way better than they are, while some who lacks confidence is not self aware enough to know what they are truly capable of.
To make it practical, here are three quick steps to eating humble pie:
1) Listen more than you speak. This could mean listening to coaches, peers, people you admire, listening to your body, etc. There are lots of ways this plays out. Being attentive to your surroundings will help you maintain the right perspective and remain humble.
2) Never stop learning. This ties into the previous point. If you are talking you are often not listening, which makes it very difficult to learn. Allow yourself to listen, to seek other perspectives, to not get offended when someone differs from you, and educate yourself as much as possible. “You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.”
3) Be willing to do things you know you suck at in order to get better. You must challenge yourself in order to become better in any given area of life. I like the analogy of three circles of growth: the comfort zone, the stretch zone and the panic zone. The stretch zone being the the circle for most growth as it challenges but doesn’t cripple a person in their pursuit of getting better.
All this to say: don’t forget your daily or weekly dose of humble pie. The pie that keeps you growing, keeps you learning and keeps you becoming the best version of yourself. Eat it often and watch yourself and others around you flourish.
“If you want to grow good corn, you must also help your neighbor grow good corn.”
Stay humble. Stay hungry.