“Smart”

For those who are not aware, I recently acquired a personal training position at L.A.Fitness. The head trainer at my gym strongly emphasizes the importance of constantly educating yourself as a trainer. Always learning what the new trends are and knowing everything you can about your field. Just for that simple reason that it IS YOUR field. Because, if you’ve decided it’s a field worth going into, why wouldn’t you want to continue to learn more and more about it? Isn’t that how one gets ahead in any field?

Anyways, that isn’t the soapbox I wanted to get onto today. Thanks to the head trainer’s constant reminder to be educating myself I picked up a couple fitness and training books at the library last week. My schedule is still slow as I am beginning to pick up clients so I have a lot of downtime in the gym. You can only work out so long and so often, even for a trainer. But I’m convinced that I have never yet reached a limit for how much I can read in a day. While I sit at the desk I devour the fitness books, working the new techniques into my client’s workouts, into my workouts, and learning all that I can before I must return the books to the library.

Today, one of my fellow trainer’s came up to the desk, took notice of me reading one of these fitness books and said, “girl, you are so freakin’ smart because you read alllllll day long.” I chuckled and replied, “well I don’t know about that.” And we went on our merry ways.

Having been homeschooled all the way through highschool I’ve often had people say things to me along the lines of, “you’re homeschooled?! Wow, you must be like really smart!” I don’t consider myself to be dumb necessarily…at least, not most of the time, but really, I have my blond moments, ok? But on the book-smart, intellectual kind of level I never have regarded myself very high. But it never bothered me either, I figured I’m average and I’ll just continue to get smarter in the areas that I focus on. No big deal. But when my fellow trainer pointed that out today the words took on a little bit of a different meaning for me.

This trainer doesn’t know that I was homeschooled, we haven’t had any in-depth conversations, there is no way, as far as I can see, that she would be able to judge how “smart” I really am. So why did she say that? When she has no idea how smart or stupid I am. What made her say that? Just because I was reading? There are some really stupid books out there that I promise are not making people smarter.

It clicked. She may not know how smart I am when it comes to taking tests, getting through highschool, when in a philosophical or deep intellectual conversation but what she does know is that I read. And that I read a lot. And that they are not those “stupid” books I just mentioned earlier. Whether she meant it this way or not, I took it as a compliment, that she meant to say I am smart in my habits.

This means that despite whether she knows if I actually am ALREADY smart in whatever area, what she DOES know is that I am making smart choices in my habits. Sure, some people are born geniuses, but most of us aren’t. I am not a born genius in any area. Writing is my passion, but I have to practice, which is why this blog is here. But how do any of us become smart? Whether it’s in school or housework or being a good father or mother or friend or Christian or employee or employer? We practice. And if we want to be REALLY good, or REALLY smart in that chosen area then we have to BECOME smart. We don’t become a parent or spouse and automatically become geniuses in the art of parenting or in being married. We have to practice. And if we want to be more than just good, if we want to be “smart” in that chosen area then we have to make “smart” choices or habits to then BECOME smart.

All of this confusing tossing around of words to say: what’s already in your brain doesn’t make you smart, it’s your habits that make you smart. It’s what you are doing on a regular basis, what are you constantly putting into your brain, that makes you smart. You aren’t studying up on your passion to BECOME smart, you ARE smart BECAUSE you are studying your passion. A person may have a lot of head knowledge about the Bible, but if they decide to stop studying the Word at age 25 and live off of what they already know about God, are they going to grow in Him? Or does it take a daily life of habits and choices to constantly live in His presence and study Him to become closer to Him? To become “smart” in the ways we seek God?

As a personal trainer, I am required to have a personal trainer’s certification. To prove that I know a couple things about becoming fit. Every one of the nationally recognized certifications require something called Continuing Education Credits (or CEC’s). These things are a pain. No trainer I have spoken to is a fan of them. What happens is this: you spend money, you study, you learn, you take a test and you become a personal trainer. THEN, every two years they threaten to take away your certification unless you have the required amount of CEC’s (nobody really threatens anybody, but it feels that way when something is about to expire). So on top of the money you’ve already paid and the studying you’ve already done, you have to pay MORE money and study some MORE in order to KEEP your certification. And these certifications are important! Trainers who have bachelor’s degrees in kinesiology and the like can’t get jobs as trainers unless they have certifications on top of that degree simply because employers want the trainers to continue acquiring CEC’s. Why? Because CEC’s mean that a trainer is “continuing” their “education” in the fitness and training department. They mean that the trainer didn’t just learn something and then forget it, but that they have to keep studying and learning more.

Unfortunately, we aren’t required to get CEC’s for the other aspects of our lives. We aren’t required to continue studying on how to be a good friend, a good spouse, or a good parent. We are focused on how to be a superb employee and interviewee when we graduate college and are desperately looking for a job. But once the job is landed we slack off. We stop studying, we stop learning, we stop getting better. We stop educating ourselves in our field. Whatever that field may be.

In what ways are you smart?

Are your choices & habits what make you smart?

Do you continue to educate yourself on life and all the fields of it that you are involved in?

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