Recently I went for a walk/jog along a local bike trail. The idea, initially, was to eat a healthy breakfast that was fresh from the grocery store, then trek out to the neighboring town to grab a cup of coffee at the local Starbucks. I had taken the path before, and new how long it was, and yet I still failed to account for a number of factors. Unfortunately, hindsight is not always 20-20. My idea turned into a brutal 4 hour long 14-mile roundtrip. My legs weren’t prepared for the work, and 24 hours later my ankles are still swollen.
While self-control, determination (grit), and the willingness to tough it out are all admirable qualities, a little self-knowledge would have served me better before starting the trip. Perhaps some of you know the inscription engraved on the above the entrance to the oracle at Delphi, “Know Thyself”. It is both a warning and a reminder. Without self-knowledge, without knowing ourselves we can quickly find danger on all sides. Hmm… but what does this really mean? For me, I like the approach Sun Tzu took:
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
In my case I knew the terrain and the distance, and while lacking a definitive enemy I lacked knowledge of myself and capacity. That lack of knowledge resulted in a painful trip back and now two days to recover. Perhaps I should use this recovery time for a little introspection and get to know myself a bit better.