Empower Yourself Through Humility
Humility reminds us that we are human. It reminds us not to overestimate our abilities, not to get sloppy and lazy, to always be present and give our best effort.
Humility reminds us that the big tasks, the ones that matter, really are difficult, even for such amazing warriors as ourselves. Remembering this, we will remain focused, taking the task seriously and bringing to it the attention it deserves.
Humility says, “I could mess this up, so I will make sure I don’t.”
Only the fool forgoes humility for hubris. If he is talented, he will get far, but eventually, the task at hand will be bigger than he can handle casually. Eventually, it will require an acceptance of the need for help, either from other people or deeper wells of energy and focus.
Recently, I’ve adopted the habit of bowing upon waking and just before bed. Bowing is an interesting form of devotion because it is an expression of humility. You are honoring whatever you bow to by being humble before it.
To me, that suggests an acknowledgement of how much we rely on certain things and how important mindfulness is. I recite certain gratitudes when I bow. For example, I give thanks for the opportunity to rest and recover at night, and then I bow. This expresses the acknowledgement that I don’t necessarily have the right to peaceful rest — many people don’t get it. I am thankful for it, but also humbled by it, since I depend on it to function.
On a recent hike in the Flatirons above Boulder, I was reminded of the importance of humility in being effective. Because I often hike barefoot or minimally shod, I have to watch my footing. Unlike boot-wearing hikers, I can’t just assume every step will be a safe one, so I exercise extra care in my foot placement. There is a much smaller margin for error when you move like this, and you learn just how small is the difference between a pleasant hike and a cut foot that leaves you hobbling for a week.
If I denied this fact, trying to assert my arrogant right to stomp through a gravelly trail, I’d get injured. The heavy protective shoes give a false sense of security because they dull feedback and accidents can still happen.
However, when I humble myself before the difficulty of the trail and the fact that I’m still learning how to walk it, I can make it through safely and smoothly, leaving few traces and really connecting with the mountains.
That’s one of the key lessons from MovNat and the practice of complex, natural movement: little things make a big difference. A stone might not weigh too much compared to the car-axel barbell you lift at the gym, but its shape makes it much harder to lift. This is humbling, and the only way you can master the stone is to accept that it is hard, even if it only weights 50 lbs.
You may be a cheetah on a track or field, but when you are put on a trail and have to dodge rocks and navigate questionable traction, you’ll discover how little it takes to slow you down.
You can whine about it, or you can accept it and learn. Of the two choices, only the latter leads to growth.