HUMILITY (Part two)

Sir Godfrey Gregg ROMC, OHPM 

What is humility?

The definition of humility need not include timidity or becoming a wallflower. Instead, humility simply requires a man to think of his abilities and his actions as no greater, and no lesser, than they really are. Real humility then mandates that a man knows and is completely honest with himself. He honestly assesses what are, and to what magnitude he possess talents and gifts, struggles and weaknesses.

Humility is the absence of pride. We are taught to think pride is a good thing. But pride functions only when comparing others to yourself. Don’t base your self-worth on how you stack up to others. Instead, focus on yourself and how you can improve.

The point is that each person’s pride is in competition with everyone else’s pride. It is because I wanted to be the big noise at the party that I am so annoyed at someone else being the big noise. Two of a trade never agree. Now what you want to get clear is that Pride is essentially competitive-is competitive by its very nature-while the other vices are competitive only, so to speak, by accident. Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others. If everyone else became equally rich, or clever, or good-looking, there would be nothing to be proud about. It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone.

What humility is not

In their quest to be humble, people often confuse humility with false modesty. I think we’ve all been guilty of this at one time or another. When we are recognized for a great accomplishment, we act as though what we did really wasn’t that important or that big of a deal. For example, we spend many hours meticulously putting together an excellent presentation for work, and when people praise us we say, “Oh, it was just something I threw together.” We have a tendency to devalue what we’ve done under the pretense of humility. In fact, people often take on the guise of false humility for the sake of receiving more praise and adulation from others. You want people to think “Wow, he said he just threw that together! Imagine what he could do if he had spent hours on it.” When you do something well, don’t toot your own horn excessively, but truthfully acknowledge what you accomplished.



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