Humility – The Most Beautiful Word in Fitness
Hello friends! I trust you are well and life is going your way. It has been awhile since last we chatted so I thought I’d drop in and start the conversation. This article is directed more toward fitness professionals than for those looking for information about attaining and maintaining a fit, vibrant lifestyle. But, then again, perhaps it could be directed toward anyone open to the message that sometimes more is less, bigger is not necessarily better and thoughtful silence always gains more respect that boisterous pontification.
So on with my potentially boring and most assuredly over-worded babble……..
Those of you that know me best can testify to the fact that I have no shortage of opinions on the things I care about most – the fitness lifestyle and fitness industry are two particular areas of interest where you can find any number of my most firmly held beliefs. One specific belief I’ve developed and cultivated over the past couple of years is perhaps best described by sharing with you the words that caused me to consider this possibility in the first place.
“Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues hence, in the soul in which this virtue does not exist there cannot be any other virtue except in mere appearance.” – St. Augustine
These words, upon reading them for the first time, sat with me for a number of days. I realized that of all the virtues I do possess; honesty, patience, diligence, compassion etc. the one essential virtue I had not bothered to fully embrace was that of humility. Not to sound like a big wuss, but the realization of this seriously hurt me. It almost felt as if I had injured myself by simply realizing I was quite clearly flawed. It took a day or two to get over the fact that I had negligently failed to attain such an obvious virtue all the while thinking I had life figured out and was in total control. It was at this point that I realized that this very thinking pattern is the reason I could not be humble. I had failed to allow myself to see my own shortcomings and faults. I suppose those of us working in the fitness industry could grow very accustomed to looking at other people’s bodies, their hang-ups, their emotional issues and in turn forget that we have many of the same issues, they’re just wearing different labels. It was at this point in life that I realized my guilt of partaking in this very circumstance, not as a simple bystander, but as a willing participant.
Since that time I have done at least one major exercise in humility annually. This year I decided that my exercise in remaining humble would be volunteering in the emergency room at Oklahoma State University Medical Center. There I am the low man on the totem pole. If I’m not there, it doesn’t even matter, the great professionals in that medical facility would carry on just like they do each and every day. In my day-to-day life I am responsible for steering large-scale, innovative and actionable fitness ideas – paradigm shifting stuff – for a very progressive business based in Tulsa, OK. Most days find me disseminating a lot of strategic information to other people and then helping them assimilate those ideas into the business at hand. It’s easy to forget that in a humanistic sense I am no more valuable to our team than any other person and my input is no more important than the input anyone else offers. Do you find it’s hard to stay humble in your life as well? Maybe you own and operate your own business or you oversee the work of dozens of team members. If you’re in this position then maybe you can understand how simple it can be to forget that we are just people like everyone else. We have problems, successes, failures and we are just as flawed as others even if our flaws are constructed in a way that still allows us to be in charge. Helping out at the medical center helps to keep me grounded. I get to work with a lot of really interesting people, learn cool stuff about the medical industry and hopefully put a little positive energy into the lives of the people I interact with. The most beautiful thing about volunteering, to me, is that I get to see what happens when we lose sight of what really matters and stop caring for ourselves. It’s humbling to see how very blessed I am and being a volunteer doesn’t allow me to forget it. Humility is almost a natural response under this circumstance. I don’t see how you could see this type of thing and feel anything but grateful and humbled for the blessings living a fit life gives.
My overarching message is this: seek out ways to be humble my friends. With humility comes much reward. Being humble doesn’t mean you’re a push-over, and it doesn’t mean you allow people to take advantage of you. Being humble means understanding that while we are all very different, equipped with different talents, gifts and abilities, none of us are entitled to consider ourselves as superior to any other person. As soon as we begin thinking we’re better than someone else, it doesn’t take long til life punches us in the face with a “you ain’t that cool situation.” The rewards I’ve received while remaining humble far outweigh anything I’ve achieved by pushing and forcing my way toward success.
The fitness industry has unlimited opportunities for those willing to recognize the potential. No matter what aspect of our industry you work in, there is room for advancement as new technologies open new pathways for growth and expansion with each and every passing day. As we grow closer, more connected through the development of technology, so the need to remain humble becomes that much more important. In recent months I’ve found myself trying to communicate with people who know my language, but I don’t know theirs. Talk about humbling! Here I am almost finished with my Ph.D. (in education of all things) and a person with seemingly no formal education has to modify their speech so that I can communicate with them. It’s the times in life where we are humbled that we look back on as our biggest blessings. Humbling experiences teach us to embrace others despite their differences. Being humble and working in the fitness industry has taught me that no matter how much I know and how much I can do, there’s always room for growth, tolerance and humility. As our industry, shifts, grows and expands it is going to be imperative that leaders remain humble. If fitness is anything it’s a message, a system of beliefs and a lifestyle. Humility is the elixir that brings people who seem completely different together. As our message reaches new areas of the globe, it will be essential that those of us who plan on playing large roles in the future of the health and fitness industry work to gain understanding, empathize, embrace differences and remain humble because we in fact do not know everything and we in fact are not better than other people simply because we have understanding they do not possess. I assure you, they possess just as much insight to offer us if we’ll just stop, humble ourselves and listen. Of course if you’re like me, chances are they’ll have to go through the trouble of switching languages so that you can understand what they are saying. FYI – I’m now practicing Spanish and Dutch!
Remember this blog article from back in the day? It fits in perfectly with this topic.
Check it out! CLICK HERE!
James 4:6 in the King James version of the Holy Bible says this: “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.”
Beautiful words to remember my friends. As we work to expand our influence, grow our businesses and further the interests of the fitness industry, let us remember that blessings are showered on those who remain humble despite tremendous opportunity and achievement. It’s the person who can remain humble despite great riches and authority that will be truly blessed with influence, admiration and global recognition.
I’ll end here with a little insight some of you have asked about with regard to my educational process……..Til next time my friends!
So, staying with the theme of being humble and caring for others, a number of you have inquired about my personal journey and what my educational interests are. I’m wrapping up some doctoral work and here is a little peek into my latest class. Of course this is my final report draft, but it’s pretty well complete and I don’t expect to modify a whole lot. So, in an effort to stay ahead of the game, I’ve already completed this paper and am ready to finish-up the semester. If nothing else, this is an illustration of how planning ahead and being prepared assures success in all that you do. Remember the article from January, planning is everything!
Developmental Education: A Community, Familial, and Governmental Concern
Society and culture have long looked at issues relating to minorities, their families, educational development, and overall integration within society using an overly simplistic framework. I too am guilty of this in my own life. A key example of my own bias and misunderstanding can be illustrated by following my learning progression during this very class. As the class has progressed, I have been forced to face and deal with my own beliefs and often face the fact that my thoughts and beliefs are in some cases not only incomplete and uniformed, but completely wrong. Accordingly, even a cursory review of the subject matter reveals the fact that they are a great many factors that shape familial structure, formative and cognitive development, and academic achievement to a unique and dynamic level with minorities as compared to the majority in the United States. This cannot and should not be understood to mean that minority children are somehow irrevocably different or predisposed to certain strengths or weaknesses. Rather, environmental factors as well as the pervasive views within society, uneven allocation of resources, and the alternative approaches that certain cultures take with regards to the topics which will herein be discussed are the most powerful factors in shaping the way that minorities must integrate with the overall application and importance of such determinants.
With regard to the cognitive development that takes place among minority students, it is my newfound belief that this measurement is no different than the level of cognitive development that takes place within majority, white shareholders. The greatest level of differentiation with regard to this is realized as a function of the quality of the educational system itself and the degree to which the family unit impacts cognitive development. We have discussed time and again the invaluable impact a supportive, nurturing family has on development children. From Piaget’s Cognitive Development Theory to the various stages of Kohlberg’s moral development theory we find time after time the immense value a quality family environment holds for a developing child. However, the sad fact of the matter is that due to the overall level of disparity, economic hardship, and low quality of life that is quite often evidenced within minority communities, the level to which the family is able to concentrate on and foster the cognitive development of these youngsters is often limited (Schaffner & Jepson, 1999). This of course perfectly relates to the level of social injustice that our American educational system exhibits in favor of majority students and against students of underrepresented races and cultures.
Having previously underestimated the severity of minority disadvantages in the academic setting I must admit, my newfound insight shows my own previous lack of understanding and empathy. The academic distance that separates the achievement of minority students from their white counterparts has defined academic literature on the topic for the past several decades. Strident members of one side of the argument state that minority students are nearly an entire standard deviation away from their white counterparts with regards to their overall level of scholastic achievement. Those in disagreement with such a stance point out the fact that the gap is necessarily smaller yet nonetheless extraordinarily important to focus upon and seek to fix. The ugly truth at the heart of the matter is with regard to the quality of teachers, the overall level of funding, and the importance that education and scholastics is able to realize on the home front of these minority families (Deo, 2012). With regard to the first two factors, they can be understood to integrate most closely with a level, of what many consider, tacit racism that exists within the educational system. Due to the fact that the US Department of Education, and community leaders, must seek to allocate limited resources in order to affect limitless needs, minority neighborhoods and communities are often deprived of fundamental and necessary technologies, high quality teachers, and monetary resources with which to effect positive growth on the overall level of academic achievement that their students can reflect (Pilkington, 2013). However, this last determinant which has been listed is with regard to the level of importance that education plays within the family unit. Although the first two of these determinants can be affected from a governmental or community level, the third is one that must take place within the home. This is the factor I found to resonate most completely with me throughout this entire course. Family accountability to the children is something I have not been able to minimize in my hierarchy of important factors I feel contribute to quality child development. It is my further understanding that the tests and metrics that are used to measure students are not in and of themselves biased, rather, the appropriation of funding, resources, and teachers is in and of itself a biased and oftentimes racially motivated decision (Kaur, 2012). I cannot say that this is factual, but the growing body of evidence and popular thought seems to support this notion.
Lastly with regard to the effect that family, communities, and the environment play in the development of children, one cannot and should not seek to extrapolate a great deal of inference based upon this topic without first examining the overall level of economic strength, quality of life, health, crime, and a litany of other factors that greatly impact upon the level to which the family and the community within minority neighborhoods is able to affect a positive impact. Whereas it might be easy for people within a more economically developed region of the economy to cast aspersions on to the means by which minority communities and families seek to improve upon the overall development of their children, such a level of judgment is ridiculous due to the fact that these minority communities oftentimes have but a very small percentage of resources (compared to their more affluent counterparts) available to draw upon in order to affect such an end. Aside from the importance of family, the factor of available resources is one that I now find of particular interest as I work to better understand the many concepts and possible situations surrounding the topic of social justice in child development. This particular situation underscores the level of disparity that necessarily exists between affluent and low socio-economic status (SES) members within society. Although it is a stereotype to categorically assume that all minority communities are necessarily without resources, this is often the case (Chang et al., 2009). Connectively, this not only places the burden of action upon families and community members of such affected regions defined ways in which they can better themselves, their families, and their children under adverse circumstances, it also places a necessarily heavy burden of action upon the more affluent members of society in order to correct and ameliorate this disparity. At some point, in my mind at least, we all have to accept some responsibility for our children and the society they grow into regardless of what end of the economic or racial spectrum we are on.
As with any system, the current system exhibits a high level of unethical and unfair practice. As has been discussed in this brief analysis, one can easily see the extent that society, educational decision-makers, and the individual family unit are able to impact upon the way in which social justice is realized among all children of the nation to different degrees. Ultimately, it is my belief that in order for the situation to improve, it is necessary for the people in our government, educational community, the community at large, and the family unit to take careful stock of the situation and determine the most effective means towards creating a higher level of fairness and promotion of minority concerns within our national system of living. This is of course difficult due to the fact that it will require three otherwise non-integrated groups to work together for the common purpose of a higher level of equality. My wholehearted belief is that we must each take responsibility for the generations that follow us, do our best to provide a level, fair framework of development for all to work within and create a higher expectation of what it means to be a supportive family, community and nation.
Chang, M., Park, B., Singh, K., & Sung, Y. Y. (2009). Parental involvement, parenting behaviors, and children’s cognitive development in low-income and minority families. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 23(3), 309.
Deo, M. E. (2012). Separate unequal, and seeking support. Harvard Journal On Racial & Ethnic Justice, 28(9)-49.
Kaur, B. (2012). Equity and social justice in teaching and teacher education. Teaching and Teacher Education: An International Journal of Research and Studies, 28(4), 485-492.
Pilkington, A. (2013). The interacting dynamics of institutional racism in higher education. Race, Ethnicity & Education, 16(2), 225-245. doi:10.1080/13613324.2011.646255
Schaffner, M., & Jepsen, D. A. (1999). Testing a social cognitive model of career choice development within the context of a minority teacher recruitment program. United States Department of Education, Washington, DC. Publication No 1999-04-00, 1-29.
Hope this was at least insightful and maybe got you thinking a little about what we can all do to help improve the lives of others and therefore ourselves.