Know You Don’t Know Everything

I was having a discussion the other day with a new athlete about the phases of gyms as they go from a brand new gym to making it past the five year mark, then onto the ten year mark and so forth.

Now of course, this conversation was based on my observations over the years, so it’s limited to my experience, but fortunately I have been blessed to visit tons of gyms all over the US and talk with coaches, owners, athletes etc.. 

So take it for what it is…

I mentioned there is a dangerous point along the way that some owners fall into where they know just enough about what they are doing to convince themselves they know way more than they actually do.

So they tend to stop seeking advice or mentorship. They don’t take feedback or criticism as openly as they should or listen to those in the gym. 

In other words they stop themselves from being able to grow and become better. 

We see this in coaches often as well. After a year or so of success with students they begin to be more hesitant to change. If they don’t recognize this earlier or run into some ah-ha moment (usually a rough moment in which their current plan fails them), this feeling of superiority only grows as the years continue. They tend to look at their old mentors or maybe their younger peers with more of a questioning eye. Again, they stop themselves from being able to grow.

If the issue isn’t dealt with it often leads to splits. You can see this all over the fitness and self defense world. How many gyms or organizations do you know that came about because they split off from some other gym or organization? 

Usually because the head of the original organization bumped heads enough with one of his/her staff and they went separate ways.

I have experienced this personally and seen it happen in many others. In most cases it’s a battle of ego. Most of the time it is both parties poorly communicating, but sometimes, one side is more open than the other, but the chasm is too big to cross. 

No matter, it is a big problem that ends up hurting the coaches, their athletes, and any other support staff involved. 

This phenomenon isn’t just limited to coaches or owners though, we see this in students as well.

It might be the athlete that tends to score top of the leaderboard in most workouts at their gym, or the BJJ student that tends to dominate most of the matches in their gym. 

They are just good enough to convince themselves they are way better than they are, so they start to listen less in class. They tend to do things their own way. They might even directly mock a coach or blatantly go against their requests. 

Again, if this issue is not dealt with soon, it will cause undo drama that can spill over and negatively impact other members and the overall atmosphere of the gym. 

These situations I have definitely dealt with numerous times over the years, and still deal with to this day. I have handled some of them very well, others not so much.

As of late I honestly feel bad for them. That is not to say I coddle them by any means. In most cases I deal with them directly, making sure they listen, rules are followed, keeping an eye on their desire to stray from the path. Of course, I let things slip here and there. In most cases, those slips end up being educational moments, but again, that is not to say I haven’t fucked up before. 

But under it all, I feel bad for them. Because, in these cases, they most likely have potential they will never meet if they continue down this path. 

You see, anyone can see sustained success for a period of time. If you are consistent about putting time and effort into whatever the medium is, you will see success. It really is simple.

However, the ones that will see continued success over the longest periods of time and reach the highest potential, are the ones that know they don’t know everything. They don’t listen blindly by any means, but they are open to new ideas and assess those new ideas. If they are going to commit to a program, they actually commit to it for a long enough time to actually find out if it works or not. 

They don’t “change the recipe” because they think they are smarter than everyone.

At the end of the day, the short lived stroking of your ego is not worth your health, your family’s safety, or your potential to reach happiness.

Don’t fall into this trap. No matter what area of life you are in. This certainly applies to more places than the gym. 

Remember, in the words of K’naan – “Any man who knows a thing, knows he knows, not a damn damn thing at all.”

Be good, be humble, stay safe.


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