How I Learned to Be Humble and Why Humility Is Worth It

Mar 2, 2021

Being humble is great.

You feel fantastic with yourself, and people use to like and engage with humble persons.

The definition of humility is the feeling or attitude that you have no special importance that makes you better than others or having a lack of pride.

Humility is something you have to learn. It was my case.

When I was 7 years old, I received my first lesson in humility.

At the age of 24, the second one was enough to take the path of humility as a way of life.

I will share both with you because cultivating humility and being humble is a good skill/behavior for each of us and, consequently, for society.

“Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”
— John F. Kennedy

Lesson 1: Sailing the seas

When I was 7 years old, I joined a course to start learning how to sail.

We had some very small boats called “Optimists”.

As soon as I started navigating, I had beginner’s luck.

My boat went very well, and I performed at a very high level.

7 years old and sailing perfectly? Bad combination…

I thought I was Columbus, Magellan, and Captain Cook, all in one.

At the same time, a little girl started to practice her sailing skills. It didn’t go well. I passed by her side and started laughing at her (well done, Paco, you’re digging your own grave…).

One of the teachers saw my attitude and, obviously, scolded me.

Just a few hours later, I took another boat. I don’t know why, but I didn’t perform well, and I went directly to some rocks.

I had to be rescued by the same teacher…

No comments… I didn’t know where to hide. I was embarrassed. I felt ridiculous.

It was a bad day but, at the same time, a glorious one, because I changed my attitude since then and, even almost 40 years later, I still remain that vital lesson.

Lesson 2: Thinking I was Bill Gates

When I was 23 years old and finished my computer science engineering, I started working in big consultancy companies.

I was totally hooked on those types of companies. I could see myself managing the whole world from them.

23 years, a suit (not very expensive), and a salary that wasn’t bad for a beginner (although do not think it was awesome), I was kind of a Rockefeller.

I was totally dedicated to the cause, ready to start climbing all those steps (I didn’t know it was an endless ladder) to move:

  • from programmer to analyst,
  • from analyst to manager,
  • and from manager to partner.

No matter how many (dozens) levels existed in between. No matter how long it would take me to do so. I’d go for it!

Soon I saw the opportunity. The “A team” (the one I thought it was the “A team”) was in my spotlight.

It was my opportunity to start programming a lot and becoming an analyst asap (at that time, I lived life thinking I was going to die the day after… we’ve all been young… thanks for your comprehension…). That was my way…

But something happened. I was called for a different team. For me, that was, at that time, the “B team” (even the “Z team”).

You can imagine my reply to that manager’s team… Again, no comments…

Anyway, I had no choice. I had to go to that so-called (by me) “B Team”.

What happened?

The team manager, the same one who had to put up with my lousy reply, trusted me and gave me more and more responsibilities since the first day.

I was shocked by her response because I thought that I didn’t deserve it at all because of my attitude.

I worked hard, feeling I had to give that person what she had given to me.

Life teaches you many lessons every day, and that same manager gave me the opportunity to become an analyst. I did it before any other member of the “A team”.

That was my second lesson in humility.

I will never forget that manager:

  • She taught me humility when I didn’t deserve it.
  • She gave me the opportunities I deserved because of my talent and tough work, not focusing on my bad initial attitude.
  • She taught me one of the most important lessons I’ve ever received.

Today, more than 20 years later, I still remember that lesson. It’s etched on my memory forever.

Takeaways

Two lessons were enough for me.

The first one at a very early age. The second one, 15 years later, just as a reminder.

Sometimes life has mercy.

I didn’t need anything else.

I learned it in a way I never forgot.

Practice humility. Be humble. You and your life will become much better:

  • Humility opens your mind to new possibilities.
  • Humility creates strong and healthy relationships.
  • Humility makes people open their world to you. You will learn. You will grow.
  • Humility will make you feel great about yourself.
  • Humility is a trust builder. For you and others.
  • Humility is a must to be a leader.
  • Humility gives you humanity. Feeling a great human being is something extraordinary.

Practice humility. Grow. Be happy.

Photo at the top courtesy of Tim Mossholder on Unsplash.

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