Sunday, September 5, 2010

Empty the cup a bit? Maybe?

I just had an interesting experience which got me thinking so I thought I’d write it down...

I was having lunch with some old colleagues and a guy I have not met before today who is a friend of theirs. As we were chatting about our respective businesses the “new guy” who has apparently trained in martial arts(“Bill”) said to me, without any pre-framing, “Self Defence aye? So what are YOU going to teach me that I don’t already know?!”
Now given that tonality accounts for a very large portion of verbal communication it would not have mattered what came out of his mouth at that moment, in the tone that he said this to me in it was immediately obvious that ego was in the driving seat.

My reply was, in a friendly and respectful tone “That depends, what do you want to learn?”

His reply “I already know everything I need to know about fighting!”

“Do I even bother?” Was my thought process at this stage. I really just wanted to enjoy lunch...

So my reply was “Cool. Well I’d love to pick your brain sometime about fighting, I love to learn from anyone with experience, because I sure don’t know everything about fighting, and in return maybe I could give you some info on self-defence?” (note the deliberate attempt to infer that they are two TOTALLY different animals)

His (overtly sarcastic) reply was “They’re the same bloody thing mate! What the hell are you talking about? Have you just started or something?”

At this point I decided that I really couldn’t be bothered. I just didn’t feel like getting into it and I have learned that the best way to be invincible is to become defenceless, that is, not attached to any one point of view but to be open to other opinions even if I don’t share them, so I just let it go.

“Fair enough mate. Tell me about your business it sounds really interesting?” That was all I had to do to re-direct the energy as the rest of that conversation was centred around him and his business. It was so apparent though as he talked that he shared the “I know everything and no-body can teach me anything” attitude in his business and other aspects of his life too. Many of which it seems are struggling, a lot.

Fear seemed to be fuelling his ego and ego of course fuels all manner of justifications. I guess this attitude fulfils his need for certainty, but what about the need for growth? That seemed so seriously lacking. Everything in life is either growing or dying, if you stand still too long you get left behind as the world keeps moving forwards. Bruce Lee prophetically stated “The usefulness of the cup is it’s emptiness”. If our ‘cup’ is too full (or in “Bill’s” case overflowing) there is nothing anyone can ever teach us and we miss out on improving and growing and moving forward.

At first I felt sad for him that he was so obviously letting his fear of the unknown and his fear of stepping outside his comfort zone and learning new things hold him back, but then I remembered it is his choice to do so. It just made me think about some areas of my life where I may be slipping into the same belief system and becoming complacent, so Bill did me a favour in that regard as it caused me to take stock of myself.

Maybe it has just been my experience so far but every person I have met who has taught me a lot and who I have found to be knowledgeable and have valuable insight, in any field not solely Self Defence, has generally also freely admitted that they don’t know it all and are still constantly learning.

The Bill’s of this world do not know it all like they claim to. They just know all that they are willing to learn. And if that is bringing them the results that they want and they are happy, great. I just wonder if it really is and how much they will miss out on by having a full cup.

Anyway, it just got me thinking.

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