Sir Godfrey Gregg ROMC, OHPM
How to practice humility
Give credit where credit is due. The prideful man will take as much credit for a success as he possibly can. The humble man seeks to shine the light on all the other people and strokes of luck that came together to make that success happen. No man rises on the strength of his bootstraps alone. Innate talent, a supportive family member, friend, teacher or coach, and lucky breaks always contribute somewhere down the line.
Don’t name/experience drop. Have you ever been in a conversation with a man who felt it necessary to interject how he’s been to Europe twice, got a million dollars home, dines frequently at pricey restaurants, or knows a famous author, at points in the conversation where such tidbits of information didn’t belong? These people are completely annoying and are basically trying let others know how great they are. Their exaggerated sense of self-importance leads them to demand the lion’s share of attention. These men are clearly insecure; they do not think they can win the interest of others without front-loading all of their attention grabbers. A humble man can hold back on sharing his strengths. He understands that others have equally important and interesting stories to share, and his turn will come.
Do what’s expected, but don’t make a big deal about it. My grandparent’s generation understood the idea of fulfilling your duty. In his book, The Greatest Generation, Tom Brokaw made this observation:
The World War II generation did what was expected of them. But they never talked about it. It was part of the Code. There’s no more telling metaphor than a guy in a football game who does what’s expected of him — makes an open-field tackle — then gets up and dances around. When Jerry Kramer threw the block that won the Ice Bowl in ’67, he just got up and walked off the field.
This is my conclusion after reading this book. Why don’t we take a lesson from our grandfathers? Do something because you’re supposed to do it, have a little humility, and shut the hell up about it. We do too much talking and there is no action to follow or back up the talk.
Perform service and charity anonymously. Prideful men want everyone to know when they do a charitable act. They drop the amount of money they donated to a cause into the conversation, they post pictures of their service to Facebook, and they never miss a chance to remind someone they served of their generosity towards them. They are obviously doing service for the wrong reason: to stroke their ego and gain acclamation. Real charity is not self-seeking and is done solely for the benefit of others. Next time you do something nice, try keeping it completely to yourself. It’s a tough test of your manly humility.
Stop one-upping people. Few things are more annoying than a man who must constantly one-up others during conversation. You say, “I once went to a Rolling Stones concert.” He says, “I once had backstage passes to a Rolling Stones concert.” Whatever someone says, the one-upper must do him one better. Resist the urge to take part in these annoying contests. You usually end up with a mess on your shoe anyway. If you notice someone who wants to engage in this show of one-upmanship, be the better man and let him have his moment of glory. People may talk about that guy’s exciting story the next day, but they’ll remember how much of a gentleman you are years later. Or if that doesn’t work, become a “cow and jump over the moon”.