“A true genius admits that he/she knows nothing.”
― Albert Einstein
After a week in which 1) Donald Trump pouted because he didn’t come in first in the Iowa caucus, 2) a price-gouging company owner took the fifth amendment and smirked throughout the congressional hearing about his ethics, and 3) I watched the film “Inside Job” about the Wall Street executives who enjoyed cocaine and call-girls while fueling an economic crisis that spread around the world, I feel a rant coming on.
I’ve heard enough from egos large enough to fill a sports stadium. I want to see signs that some of the rich and famous understand humility. By this I mean they show a certain modesty and lack of vanity, and a recognition that whatever they accomplished was done with help. Is that too much to ask?
Why is humility — not to be confused with humiliation — important? A 2012 piece in Psychology Today on the topic of ethics says, “Humility has been linked with better academic performance, job performance, and excellence in leadership. Humble people have better social relationships, avoid deception in their social interactions, and they tend to be forgiving, grateful, and cooperative.” Wouldn’t the world be better off with a few more forgiving, grateful and cooperative people in leadership roles?
Humble people recognize that the contributions they make were possible because of countless factors, including some of the following:
*genes from parents and earlier ancestors, along with guidance and support from family members;
*past teachers and the resources available in the schools they attended;
*opportunities to take part in extra-curricular programs to develop a range of skills;
*people they met along the way who affected their finances, their values and personal philosophies, their work opportunities, and their social connections;
*the era and the setting in which they grew up; and
*their own talents and efforts.
Recognizing that we didn’t do it alone is a humbling realization and a valuable one. Suddenly we feel gratitude for all that we’ve received.
Now that I’ve finished my rant, I realize that humble leaders must be out there, but we don’t hear about them because they’re not seeking attention. I guess this is the place where I have to admit I don’t know very much.