Last week I shared a poem that was passed on to me by my (late) grandmother and my mother. This week, I share another poem that my grandmother passed along (my apologies for not having a reference). While it may not change the world, I think the message is extremely important and difficult, especially considering the status-driven world we live in. Humility is such an admirable quality that I believe can make someone more effective in making a difference. When one is not so concerned about recognition, power, labels and status (and selfies!), one can more clearly see what needs to be done and act in a rational, authentic manner, keeping the best interests of the overall goal a priority. Leaders who have the ability to stay genuinely humble and deeply connected to the issues and people in need, have the capacity to make a measured difference in the world. Unfortunately, I think they are few and far between and often it is those who work behind the scenes and are unnoticed, who are actually the humble heroes and silent leaders, supporting the change taking place. However, I don’t think humility needs to be equated with being silent or only behind the scenes. In fact, I think that someone who can authentically communicate their good work and promote important messages with humility and without a personal agenda can truly empower, inspire and motivate those around them (a rare and incredible quality to possess!) Do you know any of these rare gems?
When I need to keep my ego in check and return to a place of humility, I find it helpful to remind myself of the sheer magnitude of this world we live in. There are over 7 billion people in the world; people of all different ages, incomes, genders, cultures, histories, skills, intellects and communities. People in all different corners of the world, of all walks of life, all waking up, going to bed and living their lives in different ways. People who possess different types of talents and abilities and who contribute to our global community in ways that we may never come to imagine: at this very moment, there may be a child genius sitting in his room inventing a new musical instrument; or there may be a wildlife researcher sitting atop a lonely snowy mountain waiting to catch a sighting of a rare species; or there may be a woman in a remote village hiking for hours and doing back-breaking work to provide water for her family; or an effective altruist who has just donated 50% of her income to deworm school children in India (something that has been shown to be one of the most effective initiatives to help children stay in school); or a recovering drug addict who is just trying to make it to the next day; or a group of children jumping through a fountain (and could care less about me, you, or what’s trending.) Who knows? I am humbled by these thoughts and have barely scratched the surface here. There are such a vast number of possibilities for human greatness beyond what our minds can conceive and there are so many people and things out there doing extraordinary things…or even regular things. The point is that we are all human beings living our lives in our own way. At the end of the day, we are all fatal and no one is any more invincible to this than the other (unless you have the ability to freeze or clone yourself…? A topic and digression for another time and another blog!).
I’d like to know your thoughts on the poem, the value of humility, how one stays humble in the world we live in, and if you have any examples of humble leaders.