"You know what your problem is? You don't realize who I think I am."Today, my son was climbing at a local gym. We have a good time with it and we've been doing it regularly for about seven months. After my son finished a route and had descended, a young man, probably less than half my age, walked up to me and commented on my belaying, saying, among other things "We can't have you belaying like that." He wasn't trying to be a jerk about it, and it ended politely, but I was seething on the inside...
- Jeff Bridges quoting his friend, Loyd Catlett
The thing is though - he was right... It's taking me some time to surrender my ego and really accept that I was wrong and need to accept the lesson presenting itself. It's easy to be sloppy about your technique when you're belaying a small child on an unchallenging route - and I was sloppy. Practice sloppy enough and you'll be sloppy when you can't afford it... For all I know, this young man might have saved my son's life in the future.
Remaining coachable is a key, maybe THE key, to continued learning, progress, and mastery. Peer-reviewed studies, elite status, thousands of friends on Facebook, even an impressive clientele list gives no one a corner on the truth which is always context-rich and complex. Once you become above criticism, beyond reproach, beyond questioning and lose the ability to laugh at yourself, then you've lost the beginner's mind. Something for all of us (me and you, newbs and gurus) to remember, and remember often.