Healthy dose of humility

HUMOUR — Gather ’round. Story time. I worked in a corporate office that had a gym on the second floor. It was awesome! Bored at work? No problem! Four floors later I was in a gym pumping iron or working up a good sweat. The icing on the cake was all the fitness classes were included in the price. Money, money, money, moonney . . . moooonnnaaaayy! Throughout the week the gym offered yoga, pilates, body sculpting, aerobic step, and cardio kick boxing. And they were all for free! I figured I might as well try some and find out how they were.

Well, one class I tried out was body sculpting, and one thing about all these classes is that there weren’t really any other guys. Let’s go back . . .

I get to the class and I notice everyone is grabbing two sets of weights. I ask the instructor what size of weights I should grab. She says I might be able to do 10- or five-pounds weights. Since this is my first time, I decide to play it safe and grab what most others took and go for five- and three-pound weights.

We start the first exercise, which is a shoulder raise. We get halfway through the exercise and my shoulders are on fire! The exercise involves full extension and slow movement, which burns your muscles! Next we do a leg exercise. Same result. My legs are on fire! What the hell have I gotten myself into?! We’re only 10 minutes into an hour class!! AAHHH! Back to the arms, we work the triceps by holding the weights over our heads and lowering them behind our shoulders. Throughout the exercise, the instructor informs us that we should not worry if we need to drop to a lower weight. The whole idea is endurance and the important thing is to go through the motions. She even assures us that no weight is still effective as long as you go through the motion. I get about seven reps in and my arms are killing me! I decide to move down to three pounds. Eighth rep: “oh this is burning.” Ninth rep: “holy milky moons of Jupiter!” Tenth rep. I drop the three-pound weights and continue on without any weights. Eleventh rep: “holy, she wasn’t kidding!” It still burns like lava. I am using no weights and I am noticeably struggling. I am in the front, so I take a look in the mirrors and see myself and a bunch of middle-aged women. I see me with no weights looking like I am about to cry, and I see 10 middle-aged women, all still using weights and none displaying extreme discomfort.

Wow, talk about a lesson in humility! I struggled my way through the rest of the class. There was another exercise or two wherein I had to drop down to no weight. It was such an intense class! I hurt, and I mean I hurt, for at least a week afterwards! Walking hurt. Sitting hurt. Washing my back wasn’t possible. I swear existing hurt! And I don’t swear! Typically . . .

I’m glad I had the experience though. A good dose of humility could be just what the doctor ordered. Only when we realize and accept our limitations and mistakes does a window of opportunity for growth and development present itself. Being humble creates an openness to receive and reflect upon constructive criticism. It also makes a person more approachable, enjoyable, and relatable. I doubt I have to spend any time arguing how much of a turnoff it is being around cocky people. They’re about as enjoyable as drinking juice after you brush your teeth, and coincidentally leave the same sort of taste in your mouth.

Humility is probably needed more than ever as marketers go to amazing lengths to convince us all we’re special and unique and deserve all sorts of indulgence and pampering (You’re right L’Oreal! I am worth it!). And reality shows in which everyday people behave as if they’re the centre of the universe and everything they do and say is of grand importance don’t help. Twitter makes it worse by convincing people all their friends and followers want to know every time they’re happy, grumpy, hungry, constipated, dancing, studying, barfing, or knitting.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not attacking confidence. Confidence is a wonderful thing. And confidence and humility are not mutually exclusive. They can co-exist peacefully. I’ve heard they have tea and crumpets on Sundays. Ken Blanchard, author of many successful business books, may have said it best when he said, “Humility does not mean you think less of yourself. It means you think of yourself less.”

So the next time you’re knocked off your high horse, as I was, maybe don’t rush to get back on it. Just chill on the ground for a bit and take some time to reflect. You may just realize there are a lot of ways you can grow and develop. And if you’re looking for aid in getting knocked off, try an older person aerobics class. I dare you.

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