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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Humble Runner

No matter how hard you try, you cannot put water in a bottle if the bottle has a cap on it.  Instead, you need to take the cap off in order to add more water in the container, so that it can serve its purpose.  In the same way, the more you accept how incomplete you are, the more you can grow.

It's easy when you're a beginner because you know you don't know everything.  When you don't know, the easiest way for you to learn is to ask.  The more you ask, the more you can grow, and the growth is exponential.  The more you understand what you know and don't know, you begin to ask the right questions and you start to learn at a faster pace, becoming skilled in the art of seeking knowledge.  Eventually, the beginner evolves into a skilled individual, and instead of being the ones asking questions, the individual is the one answering the questions and more often than not, this individual's growth reaches a plateau.

The thing is that once we become skilled or become an expert in a certain field, our quest for knowledge diminishes, leaving behind a rather skilled individual that has put a cap on his or her field of expertise.  We begin turning a blind eye to the constant growth of information that surrounds us and instead of that exponential growth, we begin climbing a slow incline, if anything, and look around us as others fly by as if they had on a pair of wings.  At this point, some of us will go back and start asking those flying by how they are doing so, and once again jump on the exponential growth that is going around them and fly up even higher then they were before.  Others will instead stop and wonder why they are in their current status.

There will be the exceptional few that never stop their pursuit for knowledge and they continue to propel themselves forward, growing at an astonishing rate.  How can they do that?  What makes them different than the others around them?  Are they just that talented?

I think not.

There is a simple solution to their extraordinary growth.  They simply threw away their cap.  They understood that they will never get to the point where they know everything and so they constantly add to their expertise, expanding their mind, allowing them this incredible growth.

One of my runner friends, DK always tells me, "Sho, stay humble." before every race, and I believe that it's essential to be that humble runner in order not just to race, but also to grow.  It's easy for me to learn and grow from the knowledge of those that have more experience than I do, and so staying humble among the veterans of ultra-running is easily done.  Through this, I have been able to grow and become a stronger runner.

As I become faster and stronger, I continue to learn from those around me, as well as from my own experiences, continuing the yearning for growth.  I understand now that as long as I train properly and prepare well enough, I can perform well in races.  However, it is during this phase that I often find myself falling into a trap.  Although I ask for advice and listen to those with more experience than I have, at times, I fail to give adequate attention to those around me that may not even be runners.

It is very easy to listen to someone that has a million dollars that gives you advice on how to earn money.  It is a lot harder to listen to someone that doesn't have a cent to their name that may have knowledge that you may not have.  However, there is one important fact.  Truth is truth.  No matter who says it, whether it be a child or an older individual, the truth will remain absolute.

To be honest, when someone that didn't run gives me advice, my initial reaction was skepticism.  Even if they are absolutely inaccurate and their advice was invalid, my action and attitude was a poor response.  My automatic reaction was to dismiss the advice and continue on my path.  However, had the advice been good, I would have missed the opportunity, and continued on my path without growth.  Little by little, I am beginning to understand that it is important to have an open heart and learn to the art of discernment so that I can continue to grow.  It hasn't been an easy journey though, as I take pride in knowing things... especially about running, but learning how to harness that pride has been the most helpful and effective thing for my own personal growth.

That being said, I'm still not done in correcting my bad habits and working on my new ones.  I suspect that it'll be a continuous battle, but in the end, it's worth the effort.  It's important that I have pride as a runner, but not let that same pride control me.  To be the best I can be, I must yearn to become humble.  To continue the exponential growth, I need to learn to throw away the cap and continue to learn, from both runners and non-runners, because after all, truth can come from both.

So what about you?  Are you ready to throw away your cap too?

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