“Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less”― C.S Lewis
Conversations with the GREATs
One of my favorite thought leaders who also happens to be an author is Jim Collins. He is not only successful at what he does but he is one whose depth of thought provokes the human spirit to be better. He coined the term BIG HAIRY AUDACIOUS GOAL (BHAG) to which I’m quite addicted to and his works on corporate America and the stories of the great enterprises continue to inspire many leaders and managers. Jim; interestingly was mentored by Peter Drucker (the management guru). According to Jim, Humility is the hallmark and the highest skill shared by “level five” leaders. I know for sure that Tom Peters (another thought leader I respect and whose insights I relish) does not agree totally with this proposition and he has argued why. The purpose of this piece is to contribute my two kobos to this ongoing conversation. This is not a matter of taking sides but if you must know my position on this and to leave you doubtless, I believe strongly in servant-leadership. I guess you can figure out which side I’m on in this matter. I can bet that Ken Blanchard is with me on this.
Legends of humility
Take a look at history and consider the antecedents of those who in spite of their death or incarceration (permanent or temporary) continue to inspire the rest of us to be better. What is it about them that provokes us to embrace humanity and want to give the best of us? I am talking of encounters that leave us considering the higher order of living. We call these mortals, legends and continue to celebrate them. Who comes to mind when you think of goodness? Whose work has lasted centuries? Why is Mother Theresa a symbol of love? What of Mahatma Ghandi, Martin Luther King (Jr), Rosa Park (yes! even her troublesome self). Why did the world stand still for Nelson Mandela? Why does the legacy of Thomas Sankara (Burkina Faso) linger-on years after his gruesome murder? What do you call a brave act of a political leader stepping down from a prestigious position not because of being put under pressure but because he is convinced it is the right thing to do?
Captains of doom
What is it about Adolf Hitler that reminds us of the destructive capability of the human race? Remember Auschwitz? Can we ever forget the gruesome and unholy decimation of millions of Jews in the German concentration camps? What of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? How can we forget the Apartheid regime in South Africa? What of the scourge of colonialism which extended beyond the Pacific and the Atlantic? How can we forget about the 911 attacks on the US? How can we not want to #BringBackOurGirls?
What we all want
The synthesis, thesis and the antithesis of the human experience and history alludes to one thing. The deeds we celebrate represent the kindest and most noble of expression of the human spirit. We are inspired by good and our highest pursuit is selfless. At the top of Abraham Maslow’s theory of motivation and the pyramid is self actualization. Here, the pursuit of man is purely selfless. Its all about giving back. There is sufficient proof that human beings are capable of delivering a world of goodness. Indeed, our greatest challenges point to our resilience as a people.
A garment called humility.
Don’t we all love those who are competent but at the same time maintain a leveled head? Yes! Given the chance, we would prefer to spend time with those who maintain an air of confidence that doesn’t spill into cockiness. There exists a thin line between all extremes in life. Weaknesses aren’t always inadequacies. What people refer to as weakness sometimes are strengths that are overplayed. Being able to carry others along is humility. Being able to recognize the input of others is humility. Gratitude is a child of humility. Apologies (genuine ones) ride on humility as a horse. Leaders are prone to self destruction without deliberate and regular dose(s) of humility. What’s more to say than to admonish the reader of this post to choose and embrace this virtue. So, when next you assemble your attire, don’t forget to put on humility as a garb. To thyself be true. After all, it all ends in the box.
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