When I was in middle school, I was a student in kung fu.
Every week, for months—perhaps even over a year—we practiced the same routine.
One day another student asked our teacher why we did the same routine over and over again.
The teacher paused and thought for a moment and then shared a story.
The story went something like this.
Long ago a child went to a kung fu master and asked to be trained to become a strong fighter.
The master accepted the child as a student and had them fill up a huge bucket with water. He instructed the student to slap the water inside the bucket until there was no water left.
Although a bit confused at the request, the student proceeded to do so.
When the student was done, they came to the master, hoping they would finally learn some kung fu. Instead the master would instruct them to fill the bucket up with water again and slap it until it was empty.
Bitterly the student proceeded to do so—for months.
One day the student went back home.
Excited to see how strong the student had become, family members, friends and neighbors gathered around them and asked them what they had learned from the master.
The student knowing all that they had done was slap water out of a bucket, avoided and dodged the questions.
That is until finally, the student became so frustrated that they slammed their hand on a stone table in front of them, breaking it completely in half.
Like the student, it’s often hard to see one’s growth in the every day.
Sometimes it isn’t until you leave the comforts of your surrounding—your routine—that your own growth is made more obvious.