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Strive Hard Stay Humble

May 9, 2015







What does it mean to be humble?

“On the highest throne in the world, we still sit only on our bottom,” – Michel de Montaigne.

The Oxford Dictionary defines humility as ‘the quality of having a modest or low view of one’s importance’. Humility to me is respect for what people are, the acknowledgment of the other’s achievements & a vision that encompasses the world.

Life would be too shallow & dry without humility. It is said that only the strong & stiff trees get uprooted by thunderstorms. Be as humble as grass & nothing can touch you.


There is a mythological story in India depicting the dark consequences of pride. Once, the great lord of wealth & prosperity, Kubera went to invite the omnipotent, omnipresent Lord Shiva & the mother of the entire creation, Goddess Parvati for a meal. He wanted to show off his riches! The omniscient Lord understood the purpose. He said they could not come, but asked to take their son, Ganesha for the meal. Beforehand, they warned Kubera that Lord Ganesha eats a lot. The vain Kubera disregarded the warning. When the child sat down to eat, he finished all of the food in kitchen & attic. And then the arrogant Lord had no grains in his entire kingdom to offer. So the famished Ganesha went on to eat the utensils, furniture, palace, even the kingdom. Still, he was not satiated. So he ran towards Kubera stating ‘If you don’t give me something to eat, I’ll eat you.’ Helpless Kubera ran to Lord Shiva for help. He realized his vanity. So the compassionate Lord gave Kubera a handful of rice for Ganesha. Kubera went back & offered that rice with all love & humility to Lord Ganesha. It satiated the extreme hunger of Lord Ganesha.

The story shows how even a kingdom is too little when the mind is full of pride. Whereas even if a small morsel is offered with love & humility, it becomes an excellent offering.

Success & Humility

The above rule holds true in real life also. If we peep into the lives of all famous people, we will see that only humility could sustain success. Pride & arrogance have always led to the downfall.

Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Computer went on to take the brand at global #1 position. At 30 Steve Jobs went on to become wildly successful, extremely affluent & a global celebrity. And then it all crashed down. In an unfortunate scene of corporate politics, he was voted out of his company in 1985 by the board, which sided with its then CEO Sculley. Despite the loss & humiliation, Jobs did not give up on hope & went on to start a new venture. Over the course of time, his new venture was a success & Apple started going through a crisis. He was called back to join Apple Inc. In 1996 & become its CEO. With his humility, he did not give up during tough times. Also, he carried no grudges against the people who had turned him down. Rather, he thanked them & implemented the lessons he had learned to take Apple to even greater successes, making it the most valuable brand around the globe.

On the other hand, if we look at the life of Mike Tyson, he went on to lose it all despite his magnanimous success. At the age of 20, he had become the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, holding the record as the youngest boxer to win the WBC, WBA & IBF heavyweight titles. Despite having earned more than $300 million in his career, he declared bankruptcy in 2003. His arrogance made him the ‘The Baddest Man on Planet’ though he was so immensely talented. He suffered a lot over the course of time due to his arrogance. But finally he learned that fame & fortune are not meant to be taken for granted. Now he is trying to correct his past mistakes & make the best of the present opportunities.

Humility is the way, & humility is the goal.


Ways to practice humility

These are the few ways we can practice humility as stated by Mother Teresa in her book ‘The Joy in Loving: A Guide to Daily Living’.

  • To speak as little as possible of one’s self.
  • To mind one’s own business.
  • Not to want to manage other people’s affairs.
  • To avoid curiosity.
  • To accept contradictions and corrections
  • To pass over the mistakes of others.
  • To accept insults and injuries.
  • To accept being slighted, forgotten and disliked.
  • To be kind and gentle even under provocation.
  • Never to stand on one’s dignity.
  • To choose always the hardest.

The means are endless. But it would suffice if we are compassionate & grateful for all that we have been gifted with. This small step will take us a long way. Let’s be confident and still humble. And be sure that whenever we are looking down on someone, it is only to help them rise.


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