When I was young, humility was a tough sell. Maybe it’s because when you’re a kid you know that you’re not in charge. So, you want to get in charge. You’re waiting to get older, as if the years themselves will result in you running the show. Humility just doesn’t fit with the plan.
Even when you try to understand it, the meaning can be elusive. Ted Turner, a man with no shortage of swagger, said, “If only I had a little humility, I’d be perfect.”
Then you have a few setbacks to set you straight. I’ve always liked the old Woody Allen joke: “You want to make God laugh?…Tell him your plans.”
Bill Wilson, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, put a more serious slant on the setback perspective: “In God’s economy, nothing is wasted. Through failure, we learn a lesson in humility which is probably needed, painful though it is.”
At the Hyde Schools, Humility is one of Five Principles we seek to inspire. It’s also probably the hardest one to explain. I ask kids and parents to consider this statement: I don’t know what the center of the universe is, I only know it’s not me. If you cannot get behind that statement, then chances are you’ll struggle with humility and this school won’t work for you.
Here are two simple quotes of unknown origin that have been helpful to my ongoing understanding of humility:
1. “Humility does not mean thinking less of myself. It means thinking of myself less.”
2. “Humility is when you help someone else and only you and God know about it.”
I’ll give the last word to C. S. Lewis: “Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.”
Here’s looking at you Through the Looking Glass.
Onward, Malcolm Gauld