Saturday, May 9, 2009
There is an elegant humility in every day people who have the ability to get the job done, and do, without drawing attention to themselves. Humility is also alive in the philanthropist who gives an anonymous donation, and in the leader who treats everyone with respect regardless of position. I recall being told by my grandmother that the sign of a good and honest "gentleman" is how he treats those who can be of absolutely no use to him.
There cannot be authenticity without humility.
I know that when I approach situations from a perspective of humility I am readily opened to new possibilities. I can choose open-mindedness and curiosity over protecting my point of view. When I do, I am welcomed in to the wonderful space of the beginner's mind, willing to learn from what others have to offer. As I move away from pushing into allowing, from insecure to secure, I am liberated from seeking approval to seeking enlightenment. I forget about needing to be some particular way, and I enjoy being in the moment. I am freed from the crippling fall of delusional arrogance.
When I am asked to assume a leadership role, I remember to seek others' input. I ask, "OK, how am I doing?"
I know that it takes humility to ask such a question and even more humility to consider the answer. In this simple act, I become authentic. In this simple act I choose open-mindedness and curiosity. This also allows me to share credit for any successes with all, and allows me freedom from pretence, which improves my relationships across all levels.
Humility encourages more openness and paradoxically, it enhances my self-confidence. It opens a window to my higher self. It encourages me to share freely.
In our culture, often the young are worshiped for their technology, unrestrained ambition, and effortless energy. But there is also much to celebrate about earned success, the sacrifice of effort, and experienced perspective. It is a rare young person who can truly appreciate the beauty and contributions of the generations ahead of him or her when offered. It is worth doing, however, because respecting and offering gratitude to the experiences of the elders adds a broadened perspective to to the present experience.
Throughout history, in traditional cultures worldwide, elders have shared their wisdom and visions, and taught each new generation how to care for and about people with humility. Young people need their elders today more than ever. I say to my newly graduated son, and to his contemporaries in medicine, industry, and technology, in your newness, walk in humility, and in the joy of life.
Choose humility and open-mindedness over protecting your next move. Express gratitude and respect to those who play by the rules of a gentleman's game. Because once the game is over, both the king and the pawn go back in the same box.