“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” – C.S. Lewis
Sometime back I remember reading a small anecdote shared by Sachin Tendulkar. At one of the hotels he had stayed at, a waiter who was serving him coffee requested if he could speak with him. The waiter had noticed that whenever Sachin wore his arm guard, his bat swing changed. Sachin was taken aback by the candid feedback and actually worked to change the design of his arm guard. Years later, he tweeted for help to find this individual to thank him for his tip.
Did someone like Sachin Tendulkar need to attribute his improvement to the waiter? Not really. But he literally started a nation-wide search for him.
This got me thinking about the power of humility. Different people react differently to success. Some remain humble, never forgetting the people and situations that got them there and then there are others who are all about blowing their own trumpet. Whom do we tend to respect more?
Now this doesn’t mean humble people don’t speak about their achievements. There is a difference between arrogance and simply expressing what you have achieved. Often, they can be misconstrued. But the main thing about humility is knowing yourself. Knowing yourself and your worth so well, that you don’t need to ‘show off’ but simply celebrate your achievements.
John Hennessy, chairman of the Google parent company Alphabet once said that: “real confidence – that is, not a mask of confidence, or phone bravado, or worst of all, misplaced confidence, but a true sense of one’s own skills and character – arises not from ego, but from humility”. “Arrogance”, he writes, “sees only our strengths, ignores our weaknesses, and overlooks the strengths of others, therefore leaving us vulnerable to catastrophic mistakes. Humility shows us where our weaknesses lie so we can compensate for them. Humility makes us earn our confidence.”
So, what makes humble people so attractive? In a world where everyone is scrambling to rise above each other; where the loudest and not necessarily the smartest are heard and celebrated; it’s individuals like these whose stories actually shine.
This reminds me of a short story from the Mahabharata.
One day Drona [the martial Guru of both the Pandava and Kuru princes] called for Yudhishthira and Duryodhana, and ordered them, “My dear Yudhishthira, please follow my instructions. Go among the citizens and find someone who has some faults. When you have found that person, bring him to me.” Drona then told Duryodhana, “Go among the citizens and find someone who is superior in quality to you. When you find that person, bring him to me.” Both the students then left, and Drona returned to his quarters.
At the end of the day Duryodhana returned to his teacher and informed him, “O my teacher, I have searched the kingdom for a person who is superior in quality to me, but I have not found anyone. Having concluded my inspection, I have returned to your presence. “Drona then dismissed Duryodhana.
When the sun had set on the western horizon, Yudhishthira arrived and offered obiences to his martial teacher. Drona then inquired, “Have you found someone of inferior quality?”
“I have searched all day, “Yudhishthira replied, but I could not find anyone inferior to me. However, toward the end of the day, I saw a farmer drawing water from a well, and since it was Ekadasi [This is the eleventh day of the waning and waxing moon which is considered to be a very serious fasting day by all sects of Hindus.] I thought to bring him to you. Just as I was about to arrest him, I saw him feed the water to his animals. Therefore, I have not found anyone with inferior qualities, but have brought myself for fault finding with others.” Drona then dismissed Yudhishthira and reflected on the qualities of the two princes. He concluded that Yudhishthira was the personification of humility and fit to rule the people, whereas Duryodhana was too proud be a pious king and would ultimately ruin the Kuru dynasty.
All I’m trying to say is, humility is all about self-improvement, gratitude and authenticity; something which I am striving towards everyday.
Just leaving you with a recent incident with Djokovic and a young fan. Humility at its best!