Humility

Humility, in my humble opinion 🙂 has got to be one of the most attractive qualities in a person.

It’s is easy to see it lacking in those sitting in their ivory tower. The hint of arrogance in the tone of voice or the glint in the eye that says I am better than you. It is never missed by those on the receiving end.

We must be careful not to mistake humility for inferiority. The first man I properly loved was masquerading inferiority for a humble approach to life. He has more potential than any other human being I have met. I hope one day he realises that power.

The second man I fell in love with was full of humility. I thought him wonderful. He would have had reason to believe his own self importance – he was full of life and personality, was highly creative and had a large team who would have died for him. He didn’t see it and it was beautiful. Until …… he started believing the hype.

When I started applying some of my concepts to the business world (building engagement through leadership) I realised that the most effective leaders based on colleague feedback were those who were the most humble. Sadly they were few and far between and the less humble leaders were stamping all over them and their success.

And then I met a teacher who had screwed up more times than me, knew it and yet still shone like the brightest star. He had no need or reason to impress anyone. My respect for him was immense.

Some thoughts on how you get this ‘humility’ for yourself ….

• Take risks. Move out of that comfort zone. Be bold.
• Be prepared to fall flat on your face 🙂
• Stand straight back up, dust yourself off, make whatever tweaks and go again.
• Surround yourself with people who don’t believe your bullshit and will tell you so.
• When the success comes, which it likely will when you’re truly humble, DO NOT believe the hype.
• When you fall, don’t allow shame to hide you away. Some hide their whole lives. The only worse feeling than failing is the knowledge you don’t even have the courage to try.
• Don’t fool yourself that inferiority is humility. It’s not. And inferiority is far from attractive.

Let me share this story from Elizabeth Gilberts book, Big Magic……

“The story this guy told me was about his younger brother, who was trying to be an artist. The guy was deeply admiring of his brothers efforts, and he told me an illustrative anecdote about how brave and creative and trusting his little brother was. For the purposes of this story, which I shall now recount here, let’s call the little brother “Little Brother.”

Little Brother, an aspiring painter, saved up all his money and went to France, to surround himself with beauty and inspiration. He lived on the cheap, painted every day, visiting museums, travelled to picturesque locations, bravely spoke to everyone he met, and spoke to everyone he met, and showed his work to anyone who would look at it. One afternoon, Little Brother struck up a conversation in a cafe with a group of charming young people, who turned out to be some species of fancy aristocrats.
The charming young aristocrats took a liking to Little Brother and invited him to a party that weekend in a castle in the Loire Valley. They promised Little Brother that this was going to be the most fabulous party of the year. It would be attended by the rich, by the famous, and by several crowned heads of Europe. Best of all, it was to be a masquerade ball, where nobody skimped on the costumes. It was not to be missed. Dress up, they said, and join us!
Excited, Little Brother worked all weekend on a costume that he was certain would be a showstopper. He scoured Paris for materials and held back neither on the details nor the audacity of his creation. Then he rented a car and drove to the castle, three hours from Paris. He changed into his costume in the car and ascended the castle steps. He gave his name to the butler, who found him on the guest list and politely welcomed him in, Little Brother entered the ballroom, head held high.

Upon which he immediately realised his mistake.

This was indeed a costume party – his new friends had not misled him there – but he had missed one detail in translation: This was a themed costume party. The theme was a “medieval court”.

And Little Brother was dressed as a lobster.

All around him, the wealthiest and most beautiful people of Europe were attired in gilded finery and elaborate period gowns, draped in heirloom jewels, sparkling with elegance as they waltzed to a fine orchestra. Little Brother, on the other hand, was wearing a red leotard, red tights, red ballet slippers, and giant red foam claws. Also, his face was painted red. This is the part of the story where I must tell you that Little Brother was over six feet tall and quite skinny – but with the long waving antennae on his head, he appeared even taller. He was also, of course, the only American in the room.

He stood at the top of the steps for one long, ghastly moment. He almost ran away on shame. Running away in shame seemed like the most dignified response to the situation. But he didn’t run. Somehow, he found his resolve. He’d come this far, after all. He’d worked tremendously hard to make this costume, and he was proud of it. He took a deep breath and walked onto the dance floor.

He reported later that it was only experience as an aspiring artist that gave him the courage and the license to be so vulnerable and absurd. Something in life had already taught him just to put it out there, whatever “it” is. That costume was what he had made, after all, so that’s what he was bringing to the party. It was the best he had. It was all he had. So he decided to trust in himself, to trust in his costume, to trust in the circumstances.
As he moved into the crowd of aristocrats, a silence fell. The dancing stopped. The orchestra stuttered to a stop. The other guests gathered around Little Brother. Finally, someone asked him what on earth he was.

Little Brother bowed deeply announced, “I am the court lobster.”

Then: laughter.

Not ridicule – just joy. They loved his sweetness, his weirdness, his giant red claws, his skinny ass in his spandex tights. He was the trickster among them, and so he made the party. Little Brother even ended up dancing that night with the Queen of Belgium.”

And that ladies and gentlemen is humility. Be humble.

 

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