My intention is to share how I – and others – rose from difficulty so you may traverse trials, possibly, to a ‘better’ place and/or fruitfully change. These concepts continue to enable me to see challenges differently – well, more often – and helped me turn adversity into gifts.
I acknowledge that the thought of this may be uncomfortable or a bit hard to take – especially initially; there are times I find it rather like chewing nails. As Ryan Holiday wrote in ‘The Obstacle is the Way,’ “you don’t have to like something to master it – or use it to your advantage.”
Profound difficulty seeded in me a willingness to yield to new options, think outside the box, and consider the oft overlooked, undervalued, and misunderstood – ‘Humility’.
As noted here, researchers define Humility as “characterized by an ability to accurately acknowledge one’s limitations and abilities, and an interpersonal stance that is other-oriented rather than self-focused.”
Historically, perfectionism and ego prodded me that “external accomplishments, appearance and self-aggrandizement” were where much value lay, confirms Vicki Zakrewski in UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Magazine.
Upon having my life ash, I faced how finite and fragile life is – with zilch guarantees – and how much I had to discover.
Sobered and rocked to my core, more awareness of my weaknesses and strengths – Humility – slowly crept in. Accepting more of my imperfections, I found I also “opened to new ideas, advice and criticism” per Vicki Zakrewski.
From profound loss and challenge, ego’s shouts diminished while Humility, a welcome antidote, smiled her sweet face.
Dr. Bernie Siegel’s book Love, Medicine & Miracles describes cancer survivors – who, to me, are risers-from-fallers – had a “willingness to look foolish, make mistakes, and laugh at themselves.” Ah, Humility.
Each morning, these words by Tu Viewing remind me that, instead of pushy perfectionism, “the way is not through force, not through hubris but through Humility and dedication.”
Leaning into Humility, for me, looked like:
• aiming towards discernment in lieu of judgment or criticism. By Silently Listening when a dear other is struggling or asking caring Questions, it’s refraining from telling another what to do – or chastising,
• serving others, be it by surprising a loved one via making his favorite dinner or volunteering to help those in need, graciously Focuses on others instead of ourselves,
• being honest when something is not understood or unknown. Just saying “I don’t get it” or “Hunh?” suffices,
• giving credit to others when ‘tis due,
• softening to and Accepting others’ varied ways and perspectives; these don’t have to mirror our own. Often learning can occur – instead of rejecting differing views,
• admitting errors. Simply “Oof. I messed up” truthfully owns the oopsie,
• leaning into mistakes as training per Ryan Holiday. Mistakes are Practice. This can create unlearning of what’s no longer useful or what was previously, erroneously, thought to be fact, and/or
• considering ahead of time that it’s ok to be ‘wrong’ – in order to maybe, Incrementally, be more ‘right’.
For more ideas on practicing humility, take a peek here.
If a part of you still feels averse to Humility, I hear you. Formerly, I thought Humility was doormatting – AKA being a door mat. It was eye opening to discover that there’s strength and Truth to humility. Ego, or pride, decreases and Grace, or Divine assistance, increases.
Humility can open paths through challenges where perfectionism’s rigidity can build barriers.
In the documentary ‘The Way I See It,’ character traits that great leaders display and embody in times of crisis lists “1st – Humility. The ability to be able to acknowledge error and learn from your mistakes.” Wise decisions involve entertaining, Listening to, or learning from multiple viewpoints. In reading about leaders like Lincoln, FDR, and Teddy Roosevelt, Humility enabled their leading the US through incredible challenges.
Ghandi, another Humble leader, accomplished quieting his ego while leading powerfully. He lived these words; “I claim to be a simple individual liable to err like any other fellow mortal. I own, however, that I have Humility enough to confess my errors and to retrace my steps.”
As I increasingly learn about Humility, the more I aim to cultivate it – which requires practice, practice, annnnnd more practice. The gifts of a reduced ego are worthwhile. In acknowledging oopsies and becoming vulnerable, one is seen and heard for who s/he really is – which builds bridges with and to Others.
The more I realize, the more I recognize how much more I have to realize. This Knowing, to the center of my soul, helps me with Humility and creates a deep desire to continuing discovering – and sharing with you. Which makes my heart hugely smile.