Humility and Conviction

“Humility applied to convictions does not mean believing things any less; it means treating those who hold contrary beliefs with respect and friendship.” -John Dickson, Humilitas: A Lost Key to Life, Love, and Leadership

Advertisements

Want to End Up Very Mediocre? Then Be Proud!

John Dickson commenting on G.K. Chesterton’s thoughts on pride and humility. “human pride is in fact the engine of mediocrity. It fools us into believing that we have ‘arrived,’ that we are complete, that there is little else to learn. Humility, by contrast, he said, reminds us that we are small and incomplete and so urges us on toward the heights of artistic, scientific and societal endeavour:” John Dickson, Humilitas: A Lost Key to Life, Love, and Leadership

BTW NOTE: I think it should be said that pride can make someone mediocre, but it might not. It can also make someone a perfectionist that is always pressing on in search of something better. But this too can become a vice. Humility finds the sweet spot.

Humility: An Essential Ingredient to Learning

“Perhaps the most obvious outcome of being humble is that you will learn, grow and thrive in a way the proud have no hope of doing. The logic is simple: people who imagine that they know most of what is important to know are hermetically sealed from learning new things and receiving constructive criticism. I see this at conferences all the time, whether in business, education or not-for-profit settings. Every conference seems to have a Proud Peter. He’s the guy in your organization who is moderately talented and charming but whose years in the business have created an inflexibility when it comes to learning from others or implementing changes. His natural wit is able to point out the smallest difficulty with a new idea, and so he quickly convinces himself and sometimes others that the old way—his way—is probably best.” -John Dickson, Humilitas: A Lost Key to Life, Love, and Leadership

Cultural Observation: Demoralized Language

“Public language has also become demoralized. Google ngrams measure word usage across media. Google scans the contents of books and publications going back decades. You can type in a word and see, over the years, which words have been used more frequently and which less frequently. Over the past few decades there has been a sharp rise in the usage of individualist words and phrases like “self” and “personalized,” “I come first” and “I can do it myself,” and a sharp decline in community words like “community,” “share,” “united,” and “common good.” The use of words having to do with economics and business has increased, while the language of morality and character building is in decline. Usage of words like “character,” “conscience,” and “virtue” all declined over the course of the twentieth century.26Usage of the word “bravery” has declined by 66 percent over the course of the twentieth century. “Gratitude” is down 49 percent. “Humbleness” is down 52 percent and “kindness” is down 56 percent.” -David Brooks, The Road to Character

Tactfulness

“As president, [Dwight Eisenhower] was perfectly willing to appear stupider than he really was if it would help him perform his assigned role. He was willing to appear tongue-tied if it would help him conceal his true designs. Just as he learned to suppress his anger as a boy, he learned to suppress his ambitions and abilities as an adult. He was reasonably learned in ancient history, admiring especially the crafty Athenian leader Themistocles, but he never let that on. He did not want to appear smarter than other people, or somehow superior to the average American. Instead he cultivated the image of simple, unlearned charm.” -David Brooks, The Road to Character