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Armchair Ponderings
Humility or Vanity

Guy Geller

Donuts on Cake

Last week I watched the beginning of the NFL draft and was amazed at the degree of vanity some of the named players demonstrated before having played one minute of professional football. The gold and silver bejeweled placards dangling from the necks of some, with their names emblazoned in diamonds, was past being presumptuous.

There was a saying that “humility is good for the soul!” but we are finding that narcissism reigns. We do have to give credit to those young men for their college achievements and for the fact that they earned their way to be selected in that draft; so, I won’t take that away from them. It might be good for them to learn the meaning of humility and how to practice it.

Back in the eighties a new system of feel good for everyone came about; if I remember correctly the movement began primarily from California; then it swept the nation. Remember, everybody gets a trophy? No one was outstanding, there were no winners or losers. Everybody was a participant. If that was the way to prepare for adulthood, the proponents of that system failed miserably. How can one improve if all participants are in the same tier and have no incentive to improve?

I went through life somewhat vertically challenged, so I found ways to excel. I didn’t play team sports, so I chose other sports. Running track and cross-country just called for you to move your legs a bit faster than the tall guy next to you. I raced sailboats competitively for 31 years and have over one hundred trophies to show that I just had to sharpen my skills and understand the science of sailing. Golf was always fulfilling, my drives may not have been as long, but my second shot had to be more accurate with a longer iron. Not only did you compete against others, but you set your own goals and competed against your last game. The awards that I received were not for just showing up. I, like everyone else had to compete to earn them. I believe that the degree of narcissism displayed by the last president might have had something to do with this “I’m the greatest!” I feel quite sure that this attitude contributed immensely to his downfall in the last presidential election.

Does humility make you a better person? It is accepted that it makes you a better leader. At least you are better liked and it can make you more effective. This is according to a study published in the Academy of Management Journal.

There are a number of attributes derived from humility: self-control, better work performance, less prejudice, being more helpful to others, and probably best of all, it improves relationships. Undoubtedly, there are more benefits; but I don’t want to lecture, these are just some observations over these eighty-five years.

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