Humbled : What I Re-learned From My Blistered and Bloody Hands

My hands were ripped, blistered and bleeding as I dangled from a pull-up bar. I was only a third through a 36-minute workout that consisted of loads more pull-ups and I was so tired that my hands wouldn’t grip any more.

This was, in a word “hell” and there was no way out of it for a while.

It was safe to say I was broken. I said as much to anyone within hearing distance.

But really, it was a lot more than this.

To me, broken means that you have given everything you can and your body and mind has given up. You are literally broken and can’t continue.

Yes, I was broken but I was also something else. As I lay down on the gym matting regaining the ability to breathe and inspecting my wounds.

I was humbled.

Well and truly humbled.



Being “humbled” (not a real word I suppose) comes from being humble. This in turns comes from the word humility.


The quality of having a modest or low view of one’s importance



Throughout history, it has been thought that having humility means that you are meek, mild or shy. It also hasn’t been a trait that those who have been in the driving seat of history were thought to have in abundance.

I mean, how could someone in charge of a great army sweeping across battlefields ever show a supposed weakness like humility? They surely wouldn’t last long if they did.

But looking back, history has shown that this isn’t necessarily the case.

Although they weren’t naturally humble, George Washington and Benjamin Franklin devoted years of their lives to becoming and staying humble. Often in times when the power they wielded could have easily taken them in a different direction.

They didn’t find this easy but they persisted. As we all should.

It doesn’t sound so easy this humility lark, does it? Having to think of others before yourself. To honestly asses your performance and character, accept help from others and be willing to change the way you do things.

That’s because it isn’t. It’s difficult.

humbled : what I re-learned from my blistered and bloody hands



It’s Difficult

Looking at the definition above, I don’t think that being humble is about having a low opinion of one’s importance. I personally think this is a little unfair.

Being humble means that there is is a never-ending cycle of re-assessing where you are, both in body and mind and being able to either pull back or make changes. This is very difficult and shouldn’t be thought of as having a low opinion of yourself.


It is however, very easy when things are going well to take your foot off the humility gas pedal and coast along the highway with the top down.

I don’t need to heed the warnings from the road signs. I’m happy gliding along in the sunshine until….

If luck is with you, you are jolted awake by the rumble strip at the edge of the road. And if you’re not so lucky….

A cliff.


Luckily for me, this time all I received was a temperature warning light on the dashboard. I was torn, bleeding and cursing myself but I hadn’t really hurt myself. Blisters heal but other injuries don’t always do the same.

I was reminded about ego and being humble during a similar workout about a year ago. I thought that I had learned a valuable lesson and for a while, I had.


But as I have gotten better at my sport, that original lesson along with it’s feelings of hurt pride faded into a distant memory.

So, it was only fitting that I should re-learn it with a bit of pain as a reinforcement. I obviously didn’t learn it well enough last time.

humbled : what I re-learned from my blistered and bloody hands



What does this mean for me?

It means that I won’t get ahead of myself and not over estimate what I can do in the future. It has highlighted weaknesses some glaringly obvious and others that aren’t so much.

I have accepted advice (we all need it) from someone who is much more skilled at CrossFit than me.

I am going to make changes and not over-reach.

I’m not getting any younger and a serious injury at this time in life is much more difficult to overcome.


What does this mean for you?

It’s sometimes hard to accept advice from others. And even harder to make changes to your life based on that advice.

My Dad smashed out some massive pearls of wisdom when I was a kid. Did I listen to them? Did I hell.

Looking back, I wish I had listened.

Dad, your one about getting into debt is one I will be passing onto your Grandson. Hopefully he will listen but as he’s a chip off the old block, I sincerely doubt it.


First, find someone who you respect and ask their advice. This could be a friend, a family member, coach or co-worker.

Secondly, actually listen to their advice. If you have chosen wisely, they will be giving genuine nuggets that are meant to benefit you.

Thirdly, asses what they have said. Does any of it strike a chord with you? Quite often you will have thought the same thing already and their advice will reassure you and cause you to take some action.

Lastly, make the required changes to what you do. Don’t just lock the information you have been given away and not act upon it. This part is harder than it sounds but worth the effort in the end.


Also, don’t have too much pride to ask others what they think.



Pride comes before a fall


Don’t be like me. My hands really hurt.

humbled : what I re-learned from my blistered and bloody hands


Be all you can be


Tris (I can’t wash my hands for the pain) Oliver



What are your feelings about humility and pride? Have you ever been caught out by it? Let us know in the comments section below.


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