Monday, August 10, 2015

Big fish

What happens when you feel you've plateaued in your group?  What do you do when you feel that you're the strongest player in the group - or one of the strongest - and there's little left for you to learn there?

A lot of people look to conferences, workshops, and the like for more training and knowledge, but there aren't a ton of them and many can't attend when one becomes available.  In the long run, it's easy to slip into feeling like the proverbial "big fish in a small pond".

Once there, self-worth inflates and ego swells.  You feel like you're at the top, that you've got all the answers.  You see people that are more skilled than you in other groups (maybe even on Facebook or YouTube) and make reasons in your head why they're not really that good, or how you're just as good.  Before you realize it, you've made a bubble of security that comforts yet limits you, and the longer it's been there, the less likely you are to put yourself in a situation that might crack it - like taking workshops, learning from others, etc. 

I've seen this bubble shattered time and time again, both in taiko and in karate.  Sometimes I admit there's a bit of schadenfreude involved when someone's got a really thick bubble, but usually it's painful to watch someone's reality crumble when they have to confront something contrary to their established beliefs.

No one wants to find out, in front of other people, that their skills lack.  It can be demeaning and humiliating to hear comments that make you feel incompetent, but there's a secret to making this not hurt so much...constantly seek improvement!

If you truly want to get better, then being "at the top" is just an inconvenience, not a destination.  It requires more work on your part to keep growing, not less now that you've "made it".  And the longer you bask in the pride of being one of the best in your group/dojo - even if your group is pretty good - the harder it's going to be on you when someone or something cracks your bubble.

The more of a "big fish" we become, the more of a bubble (fish bowl?) we create around ourselves.  It's not like I'm special or immune to this phenomenon, either!  It takes effort and honesty to step back and see the bubble, but seeking improvement and knowledge - even when it challenges what you're used to - is one way to keep the bubble at bay.

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