It's important to stay humble in all aspects of life, but I believe more so for martial artists. It usually starts out being all an act, saying what you think sounds right at that time. When it's not sincere it means that the person has yet to have all their questions answered and, deep down, might be buying their own hype whether they would like to admit that or not. For many, this is a necessary step. Other people and circumstances can show up out of nowhere and put you back in your place pretty fast, but until that happens some aren't convinced. You can be the sparring champion in your dojo or the most fit on the team, but get beat by someone from another school or get injured and you realize that, no matter how good you are, there are always circumstances that could take that away. That's when the respect and appreciation comes in. Being humble isn't not being able to admit that you're good or even the best, it's really just understanding that things can change. And that's ok too.
Athletes and sports fighters are seldom really all that humble. It's not in the tradition of competition. Fighters who can boast convincingly are more marketable and people want to see them more. It's better for business. Others are the product of a manager or publicist who have an idea of what a humble athlete should look like. That's also for business. The true humble fighters are unmistakable. They're the ones who understand that no matter how good they get, there could always be someone who comes along and is simply better. No one stays on top forever and some accept that with a silent grace while others submit to a state of denial. Also it's important to understand that in a sport context, it's your audience who decided that fighting was an impressive skill. They're paying money to watch athletes entertain and inspire through their performances, but if everyone collectively decided they weren't impressed, that lifestyle goes away. It takes a lot to get to the top and even more to stay there. Chances are you didn't do it alone, so take the time to be grateful for the opportunity.
I've noticed that soldiers, police officers and security workers who have been through some violent encounters deal with the experience in many different ways. For some, they start to feel like there's nothing else out there that couldn't handle because it couldn't compare to what they've been through. For those, I hope they never have to find out if that's true or not. That doesn't mean you get a free pass in being aggressive and hostile 24 hours a day, though. I respect what people have gone through and how hard it is to deal with trauma, but it's each of our responsibilities to work through the damage for the sake of those who chose to have us in their lives. Most people I've met who have lived through extreme cases of violence have adopted a new appreciation of life and all that they have. It's a scary reminder of how fast everything could be lost. Experiences like these should only serve to teach us how to prioritize what's really important. Being humble is often just a matter of perspective.
Day to day
Being humble isn't something you can teach, but unmistakable when you see it. I meditate on this on a regular basis and still can't get a grasp on it. At least not as much as I would like. I know what a cocky kid I was and I try to use those embarrassing memories to help me mold the man I am today. The good news is this is something we can work on everyday and can see results right away. What I've come to understand is that being a humble person is a way of thinking. It's really just about understanding what's important. When things are bad, there's no need to get overly upset because things could always be worse. Stay positive and work hard at making things better with a clear mind, free of self pity or panic. When things are really good, there's no time to get cocky, because it could all go away. Be grateful and continue to focus and work hard at keeping things the way they are. If you wanted to be upset all the time you could, same goes for being happy. The choice is really yours.
Why is it important for you to be a "humble person"? Is it so that people see you a certain way or is it so that you always stay focused? Does this mean that you can't ever brag or celebrate an accomplishment? Can this mentality actually make a difference in how you perform? Is it contextual? Are there times when it's bad to be humble?
These are questions that I meditate on a lot. I'm not going to share my thoughts on them, but I encourage you to consider them. If you've read anything past the title of this article then, on some level, you might have been asking yourself these questions already. Define what humble is to you and decide what that means in your day to day life. Anyone can rehearse what they'd say on the biggest day of their life like, but that's often not sincere. Treat everyday like it's a prestigious award and your behavior is your acceptance speech. Make it count.
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