I had a humbling experience at the gym that taught me a valuable lesson. On the second level of our city rec center/gym, there are several rooms surrounded by a track. Two of the rooms are a cardio room with treadmills, ellipticals, exercycles and other similar equipment and the weight room with a variety of weight machines and free weights. Both of these rooms are enclosed by chain-link fences so it’s easy to see people as they run the track or go to any of the other rooms on that floor.
While in the weight room, I remember seeing a young family walking around as if they had a specific purpose for being there. They had two young children, both less than five years old. A few minutes later after I had re-focused on my lifting routine, I was startled by one of their children, a little girl, while I was using the squat machine.
I always wear earphones when working out but seldom listen to music. It’s usually some podcast of a radio talk show that keeps my mind occupied. So this little girl came up to me and in a quiet, shy voice asked if I would like a drink of water and then held out a bottle of water. I was a little surprised by her kind offer and since I wasn’t sure if I had heard her correctly, I just said no thank you and continued with my workout.
When I moved to another piece of equipment, I could see the family again and it all came clear what was transpiring. These good parents had wanted to give their children the opportunity of experiencing the joy of offering random acts of kindness. Their game plan was to come to the gym with several bottles of water and give them to those who they thought might appreciate a drink.
All of a sudden, I felt horrible! This cute little girl had approached me offering this kind gesture and I turned her away. I felt like a real jerk! I knew what I needed to do so I quickly left the weight area and walked down the hall to where the family was gathered. I knelt down in front of the little girl and apologized for not accepting her gift and explained to her I wasn’t sure I had heard her correctly due to my ear phones.
I then asked if she still had that bottle of water because I really would love a drink. She handed me the bottle and I noticed they had replaced the regular label with a homemade one encouraging me to pay this random act of kindness forward. I thanked the little girl and apologized again for turning her away and told her what a wonderful thing she was doing with her family.
I smiled at her parents and I could tell how much they appreciated my helping their little girl feel the joy of giving. I kept that water bottle to remind me of a weakness I have that I need to be far more humble and willing to receive and accept help and aid.
I have always thought of myself as a real self-reliant guy who didn’t need anybody’s help. If anything, I always saw myself as the one who would offer help, not receive it. I’ve always felt I could solve most any problem – repair most any broken item and have the strength to comfort those in need of comfort feeling I was not one of the “weaker” ones. Boy, what a stupid and arrogant way of thinking! And it took a sweet little girl at the gym to humble me enough to recognize just how foolish I was.
We all go through different phases of our lives where times are good and other times when they’re not so great. I don’t know of a single soul who couldn’t use some comfort or help at some time in their life. We all fall into that category.
Part of this valuable lesson I learned was how inappropriate and thoughtless it is when we prevent others from receiving the blessings of service. When we turn down such offers, we are depriving those sincere souls of the blessings of serving their fellowmen.
When you take this feeling of superiority and independence to the next level, it can create significant difficulties when there are those who will refuse the council and guidance of others because they feel they know it all. They don’t need other people offering suggestions or unsolicited council on how they might improve certain aspects of their lives.
Once again, this lack of humility, this attitude of not needing anyone else telling them how to improve their lives can and will create many problems going forward. Several years ago, I was asked by a friend to go in business with him. He had a great business idea and was going to offer both a product and service that were both needed and not currently addressed.
As we started putting our business plan together, I began feeling concerned because my new partner was making decisions that had the potential of adversely affecting the profitability and longevity of the company. The bottom line was he had such a high level of greed, he didn’t want to spend any money to hire specific professionals that were needed to properly launch the company. He wanted to handle the accounting, legal, R & D and marketing all in house – meaning him and me.
I felt very uncomfortable about not having the skill or required certification to properly handle our accounting and legal needs and my partner’s response was always. “We don’t need to be paying others for what we can do ourselves.” Problem was, we couldn’t properly do these things ourselves. We needed professional advice and assistance from legitimate accountants, lawyers, etc. My partner and I unfortunately could not agree on this issue and ended up parting ways.
As I see it, there are two important acknowledgements we all need to embrace:
● We don’t have all the answers.
● It takes humility to ask for and receive the help and answers we need.
Just because I’ve been in the preparedness industry for over 35 years doesn’t mean I can’t still learn from others and their experience. Being humble and willing to take advice from others does not diminish the knowledge and experience I’ve accumulated. It’s one of my goals to strive each day to be more open to help and advice from others and show gratitude to those who offer such council and assistance.
If and when things get really dicey, trying to survive on your own is a real recipe for disaster and failure. You need to surround yourself with like-minded people and learn from each other, being willing to help and be helped. There is indeed safety in numbers.
So next time someone offers to help you with your groceries, or bring in your garbage can from the street or asks if they can shovel the snow from you walkway, let them help. Next time someone opens a door for you or pulls out a shopping cart from the stack of carts and gives it to you, thank them sincerely and pay it forward. Work with me in trying to be more humble and allow others the blessings of offering service to you.