I recently heard a Shihan story about some young students he used to have who were quite talented, and they knew it. They and their parents would make derogatory comments about the other students behind their backs, saying how much better they were than the others. Shihan wanted to put a stop to it, so he asked the kids if they knew what the difference was between a mean dog and a low down dirty dog. He told them that a mean dog will run up and bite you, and you can respect that because at least you know it’s mean, but a low down dirty dog will be nice to you and lick your face, then bite you as soon as you turn your back.
We should all strive to lift one another up, not tear each other down. Too many people try to elevate themselves by stepping on someone else, and it benefits neither. It’s particularly offensive in the dojo, which is supposed to be a place where we can trust each other, where we are free of judgment and pettiness. Mean or low down dirty dogs are not welcome there. No hound dogs either, always crying all the time! I’ve heard that most of the problems in the dojo can be traced back to ego, which is one of the reasons we’re supposed to leave it at the door.
Everyone travels the path at their own pace, and comparing yourself to others (positively or negatively) puts your focus in the wrong place. My journey, my struggle, my fight, and my goals are all about becoming the best version of myself that I can be, and it doesn’t have anything to do with anyone else.