Ted Turner, the famous media
mogul, once said, “A little humility makes you perfect.” While it
may be argued that no human being can ever be perfect, it is hard to
argue with the fact that showing humility is a trait of many highly
This might seem counterintuitive
at first. You might think that highly successful people have
virtually no humility, because they think they are the greatest and
are out to prove it through their actions. It is important, though,
that we do not mistake confidence for a lack of humility.
One dictionary definition of
humility is “modest estimate or opinion of one’s own importance.”
Someone who is truly humble knows that success is not guaranteed.
History is littered with entrepreneurs who had what they thought was
a great idea, worked tirelessly, had proper funding, did everything
“right,” and still failed. You just never know for sure what might
catch on with the public.
A successful person knows this.
They know that they are not so great or important that they cannot
fail. Instead, by having a good measure of humility, they realize
that success requires constant effort. Even someone like Donald
Trump, who comes across as arrogant as anyone, actually has a good
dose of humility. He once stated that everyone who writes to him
deserves a reply. He realizes that while he may be more successful
than most people, he is not better than they are.
Humility is also valuable in
personal interaction. Few people like to be around someone who
constantly brags about how great they are. T. Boone Pickens, one of
America’s wealthiest men, is known as a very down-to-earth guy, and
is liked by generally everyone he comes in contact with.
When you watch interviews with the
best golfers in the world, notice how they phrase things. You never
hear the tournament champion say something like, “The reason I won
today is because I was better than all the other guys.” Instead, he
says things like, “I was fortunate enough to win today.” Now, he
might believe the former and not the latter, but the message that
comes across is that he is demonstrating humility. He also realizes
that each victory might just be the last victory.
The art of humility also comes in
handy in teaching golf. A good golf teacher knows that it is
important to never stop learning. While the fundamentals of hitting
a ball with a stick have not changed much, if any, over time, the
ways that these fundamentals are communicated may change. We can
always learn some new way of putting something, or of a new drill,
or some other teaching nuance. It is fine to think that we are a
good, or even great, teacher of the game, but we must recognize that
teaching perfection can never be realized. This alone should give us
a dose of humility, and an impetus to never stop learning or
striving to improve as a teacher.
Humility is also closely
associated with another word – respect. Showing humility means that
we respect the people with whom we are dealing. If we disdain their
opinion, or automatically disregard their advice without first
considering it, it shows a lack of humility that may be to our
detriment. One way of looking at things is that no matter who you
are, each and every person on earth who is physically and mentally
healthy can do something better than you can.
Just as it’s important to not
mistake confidence for lack of humility, we must also not mistake
humility for a lack of confidence. Someone who does lack confidence
is definitely showing a good sense of humility, probably far too
much, if there is such a thing. But, a person with humility can
indeed be very confident in what they do and who they are.
It just goes back to that one word
– respect – that is employed by the humble person. If we respect
every person we come in contact with, we are automatically showing a
good dose of humility, and those two words definitely go