Have you ever sat down to a meal and really just been focused on dessert? You know what I’m talking about, the kind of dessert you get up in the middle of the night to sneak a bite of, or eat for breakfast because you just don't care.
These desserts come in many forms. My personal favorite is a big piece of apple pie covered in a brown sugar crumble topping with a huge scoop of vanilla ice cream. This article is in fact NOT about those desserts. It's about another type of dessert; the type you don't really want to eat but know it’s probably the healthier option: the humble pie.
Humble pie is one of the most necessary foods we all need to eat, but the least enjoyable to devour. It tastes horrible going down, but in the long run is one of the most beneficial to consume. Humility is one of those character traits you desire but really don’t want the process of being humbled. My mom used to frequently ask me what she could pray for and I distinctly remember saying, “Pray for humility.” Her response, “Are you sure?” She was right; the answered prayer did not come in a pleasant way. The process of what you pray for is not always pleasant.
And so it is with humility. However, it causes you to be more resilient and grow in strength, in mind and in character. Webster’s dictionary defines humility as the freedom from pride or arrogance. Being humble can look different depending on application, but I have found a far more helpful definition: humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.
Philippians 2:3 tells us: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.”
We talk about perspective all the time, because it is something that can easily be lost with the wrong focus. Perspective in life can often dictate how we view ourselves and the world around us.
In the application to fitness, it is important to maintain the correct perspective on where you are. To be mindful of your abilities, to push to be your best every day, to not be worried or focused on what others are doing. Bringing humility in your approach to fitness allows you to have a crappy day in the gym and it be okay. It allows you to fail over and over, and still be able to get up and keep moving. Humility says, “Yes I pushed hard, and yes I failed. And it’s okay.”
Maintaining the right perspective also helps in recognizing and appreciating the success of others without feeling bad or sorry for yourself. This perspective allows certain aspects of life to carry less value in your self worth. A disproportionate perspective will leave you either under or overvaluing yourself in relation to the world around you. Someone who lacks humility will tend to think of themselves as far better than they are, while someone who lacks confidence is not self aware enough to know what they are truly capable of.
Let's get practical. Here are 3 quick steps to eating humble pie:
- Listen more than you speak. Listen to coaches, peers, your body, people you admire, people who are invested in you, and people who truly love you. There are countless ways this plays out. Being attentive to your surroundings and listening will help you maintain the right perspective and remain humble.
- Always be learning. If you are talking, you are often not listening, which means you probably aren’t learning. Allow yourself to listen, seek guidance, and dig deep into God's word. Maybe it’s a verse a day, or a chapter a day, or a prayer a day, or an evening walk to reflect on what God is teaching you in this season. Whatever it may be, a little becomes much over time.
- Do things you suck at. You must challenge yourself in order to become better in any given area of life. I like the analogy of three circles of growth: the comfort zone, the stretch zone, and the panic zone. The stretch zone is the sweet spot. It’s the circle where the most growth happens because it challenges you without crippling you. What’s the stretch zone look like in your areas of life?
All this to say: don’t forget your daily dose of humble pie. The pie that keeps you growing, keeps you learning, and keeps you becoming the best version of yourself. Eat it often and watch yourself and others around you flourish.
I’ll leave you with this ever so true reminder: “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” [Proverbs 11:2]
Stay Humble. Stay Hungry.
- Josh Littauer // Invictus Athlete, Premier CrossFit Coach, and lover of life and people.