If Audible was like an old style audio cassette tape, the chapter on Humility in Robert A. Emmons’ ‘Gratitude Works‘ in my library, would have long worn out due to over-use. So, when we started reflecting on ‘Humility in the Continuum of Conviction and Curiosity’ in an online pod with ServiceSpace, I embraced the exercise with an open heart and mind.
That I had to share more and beyond the pod was a message from the Universe, when I read in the newspapers last week that Business school graduates in India faced questions on their humility among other ‘skills’, as placement season drew to a close this year.
Whoa, I would certainly not have been picked if I were a fresher sitting for placements in 2022 and the recruiters used what they are calling, a three-by-three matrix. It has been not less than a couple of decades of journey as a working professional, four and a half decades of living and four years of practised self awareness, and I am still exploring edges of humility in practice.
One fable that I read in Emmons’ and which is my constant reminder of my place in the Universe is credited to Rabbi Rafael (19th Century):
“When I get to Heaven, they’ll ask me, why didn’t you learn more Torah?
I’ll tell them that I’m slow-witted.
Then they’ll ask me, why didn’t you do more kindness for others?
And I’ll tell them that I’m physically weak.
Then they’ll ask me, why didn’t you give more tzedakah?
And I’ll tell them that I didn’t have enough money.
But then they’ll ask me:
If you were so stupid, weak and poor, why were you so arrogant?
And for that I won’t have an answer.”
And then there is Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot which showers you with a perspective any day, any time.
One of our ServiceSpace podmates mentioned something during our reflective exchanges that set me thinking and then resonating – You have to be humbled (to get skilled at humility). In effect, we can potentially learn humility by inadvertent failing or deliberate surrender. Unlike gratitude, for learning which we can self-initiate or harness umpteen opportunities in daily life, avenues for learning to be humble do not come easy.
Let me share my as-on-date experiential understanding:
Humility to me means an open hearted acceptance of my incompleteness and to never stop being grateful. It is the ability to seek without shame, to confess without fear, to let go without rancour and to forget that I forgave. It comes from the constant state of realization of my insignificance in the moment.
I am not yet a humble being but a journeyperson on that path, and am pretty sure that if I look around, there will be many B-school recruiters amongst others giving me company.
May the Almighty bless us all.