One thing that I have discovered as I go through life, is that I know remarkably little. Learning is almost always a humbling experience because as I acquire knowledge, I also gain awareness of how much more I don't know. I tend to let this overwhelm me at times, letting the knowledge I possess be overshadowed by my perception of what I do not. That is why it always a bit surprising when I find myself in situations where I really seem to know what I'm doing. There have been several such situations in the last couple of months. Training on software and systems at my job, emergency maintenance situations at work, and even a new martial arts class I decided to give a try. It is a pleasant feeling to realize that I do actually know some of this stuff better than I thought I did. Not that the time in the classes were wasted. Never hurts to have my abilities reinforced or to pick up some small detail or application I may have missed. I just need to keep things in perspective and not always assume that I'm not equal to a challenge.
Perception is such a powerful thing. Off and on over the past year I've attended the Jizaikan Hombu Dojo. Most of that time I have felt like an idiot. Despite having been a moderately respectable martial artist in the past, I just couldn't seem to keep up and never really felt like I was “getting” it. So I decided that maybe I should take a look at a different style and see if I felt better so I checked into another school in my area. Almost immediately I felt good about the place. I was easily able to keep up and could perform the techniques as well as many of the more advanced students. The euphoria kind of died though after I had a chance to really think about things. Many of the concepts and techniques seemed to go counter to some of the foundations I had been exposed to in my previous To-Shin-Do training and at the Jizaikan Dojo. With a little reflection I came to the conclusion that what was being taught at the Jizaikan Dojo was more challenging, but also more suited to what I wanted to learn. Even more importantly, I realized that I actually had learned a lot more in the Jizaikan Dojo than I had thought. I don't want to put down the other dojo in any way, however going there made me realize the value of what I was receiving in the Jizaikan.
It really was a matter of perception. The difficulty levels of the tasks I was trying to perform were quite different, yet I initially perceived the difference to be in my ability, not the task before me. With that perception I initially felt myself a failure at one task and wildly successful at another. The reality was probably I was applying equal levels of skills to both but the outcome came from the challenge. And while it felt really good to feel very skilled and talented for a time, to really develop I know I need to seek that which challenges me. So next week it is back to the Jizaikan where I can struggle along and hopefully realize that I'm actually learning no matter how hard I'm beating my head against that wall.