Humility – Einstein & Shark Tank
“I want to know the thoughts of God. The rest are details.”
One of the fundamental keys to success is humility. All of us lose our ways at times. We become caught up in the ego. But, successful people halt this arrogance. They reach out for help and learning. Humble people share their wealth, remain focused and continue the journey of success.
In many of Albert Einstein’s lectures he would draw a small circle and use that to explain awareness. Inside the circle he would write the word, “known.” Outside the circle he added,“unknown.” Then he drew a much larger circle on the board and added the same two words. He would point out that the more that we know, the more we become aware of what we do not know.
Years ago, I was invited onto a very conservative and somewhat religious radio program. They were in the Midwest so I called in for the show. The two hosts assumed that because my first book contained spiritual themes I ascribed to certain beliefs.
One day, our visits ended abruptly when I answered their question,
“Mr. Harder, what is your basic spiritual philosophy?”
“My spiritual philosophy is that I don’t know my ass from a hole in the ground.”
Finally, one of them asked,
“Why would you say something like that?”
“Well, whenever I have taken a position that I have the answers, I block higher thought, I stop listening. What I have learned is that the more humble I become the more open I am to a breakthrough. I don’t like pat answers and I especially don’t feel comfortable around righteousness.”
I was never invited back. But, my spiritual history included coming out of a childhood religion where God was an angry middle-aged white man that threatened extinction if I didn’t worship on the right day, eat the right food and conform to a narrow set of values. As an adult, I invested fourteen years in spiritual study to move beyond that idea. The more that I studied, the more I was humbled. Eventually, it dawned on me that maybe, just maybe, all religions are worshipping the same entity. Of course, I have no way of proving that but it is certainly a higher form of thinking than where I began. It seems to me that humanity has often corrupted pure spirituality with politics but that, my friends, is another conversation!
What does this have to do with work?
I have the privilege of working with some of the most successful professionals in the world. My friends, clients and colleagues include top academics, executive coaches and published authors. Almost all of us agree that if someone is going to be successful, if they are going to grow and if they are going sustain their effectiveness, they are going to be open, coachable, humble and attentive. If a potential client, employee or colleague doesn’t have these attributes, we won’t work with them.
Lori Greiner of Shark Tank recently furthered this sentiment in a tweet, “Hire character, train skill!”
With skill sets becoming outmoded so quickly, we are at a point in time where fostering humility, developing curiosity and becoming more skilled in getting the right kind of help represent aspects of character we ought to look for in employees, colleagues, friends and our support systems.
Wisdom does not come cheaply. I have learned to go to people who are successful in the area in which I want to succeed. For example, I never go to my single friends for relationship advice.
A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting with my partner in the dining room of a large cruise ship. Another couple at the table was celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary.
I asked them,
“What is the single most important suggestion you want to share about having a successful marriage?”
She squeezed his hand, looked up and smiled,
Regardless of whether we are looking to grow professionally, romantically, spiritually or financially, we always speed up the process by selecting the right teachers. We honor our lives by listening to them with humility, openness, curiosity and gratitude.
Happy New Year.
The Inspired Work Program (Los Angeles)
January 16 & 17 at the beautiful Luxe Summit
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