Lesson learned from the one and only Confucius

One of our clients this week reminded me of a great quote from Confucius – “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

We all fall off the wagon occasionally, it happens, it’s part of being human and not robots. A fall can be something as simple as eating junk food for a week or not exercising for a while, on up to seriously catastrophic things such as alcohol or drugs. Obviously the best thing is not to fall, but the next best thing is to get back up as soon as you do fall, dust yourself off and get going again. If it is a cheat meal that turns into a cheat week, then all you can do is get back on track as soon as you come to your senses. Be compassionate with yourself, maybe ask why you strayed so far off, and be sure to address that. Was it emotional eating? Were you angry, sad, frustrated? Be sure to address that issue too, or you will just fall again soon.

This leads to another great Confucius saying, “It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.” I have to say that has been my success plan for all of my Ultra endurance races and success. Never surrender. People don’t seem to realize how powerful that is. At the Ultraman World Championships in 2013 during the double marathon on day three, there were large stretches where most people could have walked faster than I was ‘running’, but I crossed the line in 21st overall because I kept moving. Forward is a pace. You can never underestimate the power of putting one foot in front of the other and never stopping.

Here’s another good one – by three methods we may learn wisdom. First, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest and third by experience, which is the bitterest.

Yes, you can read a book or a web site or take a course, that is easiest and a great plan. You can imitate successful people who are doing what you wish you could do. That is also a brilliant way to learn. The most permanent way, and often the hardest way is through experience. It is by far the best teacher because although the lessons are often harsh and bitter, you never forget them. Back in the 1990s I learned that eating junk and not exercising was killing me. I had a whole list of illnesses brewing and was always in pain. Allergies, back pain, dizziness, tinnitus, headaches, exhaustion, I was really overweight etc. I had to learn the hard way that my lifestyle was not working. Then I found my path of fitness and everything changed. I learned those lessons the hard way, but boy did I learn them.

Finally, I leave you with this quote from our friend Confucius, “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” I am so guilty of this one! I make things so hard all the time and create so many obstacles. Not on purpose of course, but somehow consistently I do. I have been sick with bronchial pneumonia for three weeks, including almost the entire two weeks I was on holiday. I created that by working too much, resting too little and forgetting to eat or take care of myself. I have spent most of the past four days at home recovering. So that begs the question, what about work? How did it survive without you? Just fine actually. So why do I work over 80 hours a week all the time? Because I make things complicated. It’s a habit.

My new goal, is to take life a little more on the simple side, and I hope maybe you will too.

Scott McDermott is a personal trainer and the owner of Best Body Fitness in Sylvan Lake.