The Amateur Who Aimed Too High

In a certain military academy’s training field, there was this tall wooden pole that was coated with oil all over. It was there ever since the year of the academy’s establishment, and it was said by the academy’s graduates that those who can successfully reach the top of the pole are worthy of great respect, as climbing the heavily coated wooden pole was a very difficult challenge. All that tried climbing it always slipped down to the ground on the first try, and all that tried climbing it took numerous attempts before they could manage reaching the top.

But one day, there came a proud newcomer who declared:

“I can climb wooden pole successfully on the first try!”

Most of those who heard him, who were upperclassmen, simply ignored him, as they’ve heard that sort of declaration from many amateurs over and over again, and they knew how this was going to end.

And so, the newcomer approached the pole, smiling with confidence in his well-built body, and then he started to climb the pole.

“What? This is too slippery! Aaaaahhhhh!!!”

He then slipped off the pole and landed on his back. He hadn’t even reached the middle of the very tall wooden pole at that time, too. The proud newcomer received cheers and jeers from the crowd of fellow newcomers around him. The nearby upperclassmen simply ignored the newcomers around the tall wooden pole, as they have seen lots of newcomers try and try and then fail.

“Damn it!” the proud newcomer shouted. “I already trained my body well, but why did I fall off? It should have been a piece of cake!”

With that, it sparked a heated discussion in the surrounding crowd, arguing about who to blame regarding the proud newcomer’s plight. Some blamed the extreme oiliness of the pole, some blamed the proud newcomer’s hubris, and some didn’t really care and left the scene.

“Aiming at the top on the first try is a really stupid mindset, you know.”

A deep, loud voice broke the crowd’s heated discussion.

“Now, if you’ll excuse me.”

At that statement, the crowd of newcomers gave way to the man who interrupted. He was a mature man who had the air and appearance of an experienced soldier.  He approached the proud newcomer who sat on the ground, soaked with oil.

“If you want to reach the top, you’ll have to aim for your level best first, newcomer. It’ll take a whole lot of attempts before you can even reach the top.”

The newcomer, still having his pride, reacted angrily at the man.

“Who do you think you are!?”

“Me? Oh, I’m just another instructor here who was one of those who were taught lessons by this tall, oily, wooden pole.”

“You really think you can reach the top of that pole, then, old man?”

“Yeah. My best has already gone beyond the top of that pole, but it’s not like I’m a perfect guy, you know. Want to watch me climb it?”

“Well, bring it on, then.”


The instructor then took off his shoes, socks, and top, showing an upper body that was scarred and strengthened by the battlefield. The crowd stared at the instructor with awe.

Immediately, the instructor started climbing up the pole, carefully doing so at a moderate pace. Under the blaze of the shining sun, the instructor climbed, and climbed, and climbed until he reached the top, where the sun made the crowd unable to see him at the top, making them move back and see if he really was at the top of the pole.

And then they saw that he was at the top. The crowd, and even the proud newcomer, responded with awe.

After the instructor slid down the pole and landed back on the ground, he told the newcomers with a laid-back smile:

“Just do your best, and aim for improvement as you do so. Don’t forget to have fun, too. You’ll eventually reach the top that way.”


The crowd of newcomers then replied to him with a united declaration of respect. They all gave him a salute, as well. As they did so, the academy bell tolled.

“Alright, it’s time to head back to class. Don’t forget what I said, okay?”


And then they all left, except for the proud newcomer.

“Hm? Is there something you want to talk about?” the instructor asked.

“Thank you very much, sir!” the proud newcomer said with a salute. “I’m sorry for disrespecting you, as well.”

The instructor replied with a calm smile.

“Don’t worry about it. Calmness is pretty important in facing the challenges of life, too, you know.”

“Alright. I’ll remember that, sir. See you again!”

“Alright. See you again.”

And so, under the blazing sun, the proud newcomer left, inspired, while the instructor looked at him running back to the classrooms with a smile on his face.

“Well, some students have learned today,” the instructor said. “This really made my day again.”

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