Humility comes from understanding our potential and seeing how much more we can accomplish. It is not driven by the insignificance of what we have accomplished but by the vastness of what we have yet to accomplish. This is sound philosophy but it doesn’t explain how we should act. I propose, in simplest terms, that being humble means “not bragging.” While not elegant, this definition is actionable and instructive.
The subject of humility is inextricably linked to the question of pride. I ask: “Who is it most important source of pride?” Yourself. Unfortunately, it can be a great challenge to be proud of ourselves; we know ourselves so well that we have become our own harshest critics. We judge ourselves harshly inside and then brag on the outside to compensate — in conflict with our desire to be humble.
To be proud of ourselves, we must do two simple things: we must do the best we possibly can and do better than we did yesterday. It is so simple and yet so challenging. It is easy to be distracted by others. For example, if a 10-year-old child enters a race with a group of 5-year-olds he will win and he will likely feel a shallow sense of pride. Should he be proud? Trick question. He should be proud if he did the best he possibly could and did better than he did the day before.
Alternately, if another child, a 5-year-old, enters a race with a group of 10-year-olds, he will likely lose and feel a shallow sense of shame. Should he be ashamed? Again, trick question. He should be ashamed if he did not do the best he possibly could and did not do better than he did the day before.
When you do the best you possibly can and do better than you did the day before you will — and should — be proud. This pride will radiate from within and put a smile on your face. You might be tempted to brag, but you won’t. You are not only proud you are humble.
Master Chris Santillo
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