The Importance of Humility

“A true genius admits that he/she knows nothing.”
Albert Einstein

The older I get, the more it seems that I hold only a spec of knowledge, wisdom or counsel. This is not said in a degrading context, but is said to show in the vastness of the universe I know only tiny bit about the world around me. That does not mean that I stop learning, or asking questions, but that humility allows me to set aside any hints of ego or pride and be teachable.

If you have not guessed it, I’m going to write and reflect on the importance of humility in life and why I feel that it will take you far in life. Now first let me very clearly state that I am not the most humble human being in existence, my own ego and pride rise to the surface, thus preventing me from being the best student I can be.

Humility is an element that seems to be disappearing quickly, preferably in our American context. An old martial arts instructor of mine, once was telling a quick story about how he was on a plane home, and a man near him, spoke up and demanded that he be brought coffee right away.

My instructor, quickly got his attention and said “please, thank you?” with a very perplexed and obvious look on his face, the man then quickly recanted of his attitude and said please and thank you. This is one way that humility takes root in our lives, for me I’ve noticed that when I say the simple words of please and thank you, something in my heart softens. The simple fact is that no one has to serve us, yet serving others becomes a vocation, as others get to relax and enjoy their surroundings.

As a martial arts instructor, I watch how students act and carry themselves, and if I’m honest sometimes its very disheartening, very rarely do students say thank you for teaching and giving what knowledge I have in a certain area, I don’t want to imply that students have to worship at my feet, but when someone says that they are thankful, it not only softens their heart, but it moves something inside the person that is serving them.

I’ve also had students complain that they often do the same thing over and over in practice,and that they want to move on to “new” things. From a martial arts or athletic stand point, we must be thankful for the basics, we must be thankful that we can even do them in the first place. I don’t care how many times you have done something, you can always learn something from what you have previously done.

The problem does not rest in the performing of everyday tasks or drills that we do each and every day. But with the very disposition of our hearts and minds, sometimes we human beings feel that we have risen above the everyday and mundane, that we deserve bigger and better things. That simply is not always the case.

Everything in life is a gift, not something we deserve because we are so great and god like. Even in education, our heads can get so big because we feel we know so much compared to others, this only closes us off from actually entering into real relationships with others, in that when we feel we know so much, we tend to think “what could they possibly teach me?”

In closing, let us be every watchful of our own ego’s and pride, that way when we feel them rise we can gladly put them back in the place they belong.



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