Creative Commons License photo credit: ffreakazzoid
Today I walked into a local boxing gym and started training a combat sport seriously again. It feels so good to be the new guy. To be in a very novel environment surrounded by people I don’t know and who don’t know me. It feels good to be a beginner again.

For approximately the last year and a half I’ve been training a small group of friends who wanted to get healthier and relieve some stress. It has been interesting taking on the mantle of trainer. During this time I’ve been very wary of falling into the pitfall that is the teacher mentality.

The Teacher Mentality
The teacher mentality is something I learnt about from a friend of mine who himself is a teacher. It is something that gradually creeps into one’s personality as a result of regularly playing the role in social interaction of someone who knows more about something then others. The problem with this, as philosophical fans of Socrates would know, is that once we think we know something the tendency is to think we know everything about everything else.

I’ve had a lot of experience with martial arts teachers. Some tend to attract somewhat of a cult following around them. Often I’ve found that because they are so used to telling you what to do for two hours every weeknight they tend to think they can tell you what to do at other times and in other areas of your life. Regardless of the fact that they, as just another human being, don’t actually have any right to do so and regardless of the fact that just about everything beyond their particular martial art is well beyond the scope of their expertise.

Don’t Ever Stop Growing
Personally I don’t give out much information about myself unless specifically asked. I learnt a long time ago that attempting to manage the perception everyone holds of me is largely an unnecessary waste of energy. One person’s perception is only real to them. Perception is not reality as such. So, today, while catching my breath in between the sound of piercing beeps from the interval timer I had some interesting conversations with my fellow pugilists.

Some offered to teach me combinations and so forth, which would sound ridiculous to those who know me. However, I think it is important to see beyond any inflated ego response on my part. There was no need to defend my ego by attempting to set the person straight. Instead here was a fellow human being offering to spend his time and energy helping me. He had just met me and did not know anything about me beyond my name.

I think if we paused for a moment more often instead of just behaving in a reactionary and defensive manner we would realize the positive intent behind the behavior of our fellow human beings a lot more then we tend to. Chances are the fellow knows some good combinations that I can add to my arsenal. Fighters who stop growing and become predictable (i.e. do the same thing even when it doesn’t work anymore) lose.

Has Your Life Blossomed?
The same can be said for us as human beings. We are all born as seeds. Sadly some of us die as seeds having never germinated, blossomed and born fruit. Don’t let that be the story of your life. We should always be on the lookout for new avenues that so often present themselves in our lives and then pass us by because we didn’t take a moment to see them for what they really were.

New experiences are potential catalysts for unexpected personal growth and development. If you’re the teacher then you already know everything so there is no need to grow and develop any further. On the other hand if you’re the beginner every moment is a new and wonderful possibility. Your life will be like a seed that bursts forth with rapid growth. Remember beginners always develop and grow the quickest.

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