Over 20 some years ago I met one of my best friends at the Missouri High School Track & Field State Championship meet. I was sitting in the stands waiting until it was time to warm up for the triple jump. An athlete from another school approached me and said, “You’re Lee Watts, right?” I said, “Yes,” wondering what-in-the-world he was going to tell me. I just couldn’t imagine what he’d have to say.
The guy had a humble demeanor and introduced himself saying, “My name is Guy Black, I go to Raytown South and I do the triple jump too. I keep seeing your name at the top of the Kansas City Star list and I was just wondering, what do you do to be able to jump that far?”
I was stumped and didn’t know how to respond. No athlete from another school had ever outright asked me such a thing. My instinct was to draw back and protect. I initially thought, why does he think I’d just give him information so he can use it to outperform me?
When I looked into Guy’s eyes as he awaited my reply, I saw a sincere person who just wanted to improve and was humble enough to simply ask someone whom he thought could help him with the answers he was seeking. I thought, gee, if there’s something I can tell him that would actually allow him to jump farther than me, then so be it.
I looked at my watch to see how much time I had and told Guy to sit next to me. I then proceeded to tell him everything I knew, which didn’t take long because I really didn’t know much about the jumps at that time. Anyway, I think Guy appreciated it regardless of how much it helped him.
Guy and I kept in touch and shared a couple of apartments in California after college. I had the honor of being in his wedding, and if my wife and I hadn’t eloped he would have been at ours too.
Humility Serves Most People Well
My Grandfather shared with me an important lesson early on: “Humility and perseverance will take you a long way.”
In the same spirit that Guy approached me, I’ve approached and gained access to invaluable training approaches, methods and techniques of professional coaches, athletes and sports practitioners
Well, now that I reflect back, it wasn’t exactly THAT easy.
I don’t want to mislead you. I also had to demonstrate my commitment to learning by being a good student and consistently training within my coaches’ programs. They would never have allowed me access if they felt that I thought I was “All That” and didn’t come forth humbly.
So, remember, humility and perseverance will allow you access to invaluable information that can take you a long way. Plus, you’ll also likely make some great lifetime friends.