Vraja Bihari Das


‘Humility, that low sweet root from which all heavenly virtues shoot.’—Thomas Moore, Irish poet and entertainer

Self-help books and motivational speakers strongly recommend ‘positive thinking’ or determination as the key to success. But there is another equally, if not more powerful, principle that is seldom glorified.

Humility often goes unnoticed by those seeking success. Generally, people consider humility as a sign of weakness. It is, if you define humility as self-depreciation. However real humility is not a negative attribute. It’s the willingness to respect others, and recognize your own shortcomings.

A successful combination is when you blend strong determination with personal humility. While the merits of a determined effort are obvious to the rational mind, one may wonder how humility would help.

Imagine you are determined to be a great tennis player. You work hard, practice for hours, watch winners in action, learn and sweat it out. Slowly the results start showing—you start winning small-time tournaments—even as you set your eyes on the big ones. Meanwhile, your efforts are noticed, appreciation follows and fans grow in number. That’s when you are tested. A well-wisher may point out some certain lacunae in your game. How do you react? If you are truly determined to be a great player, you would be attentive to what he is saying. His observation could be precious and might help you fill certain gaps in your game. Thus, you would be humble and receptive. However, if all the appreciation that’s coming your way goes to your head and you believe it, you may consider the suggestion preposterous. After all, you believe in yourself, don’t you? And what can an amateur suggest to a great professional like you? If this is your mindset, maybe you are not really serious about winning the big tournament. Your ego and identification as a great player seem more important; you get distracted.

That’s when it’s humility that keeps you on track of your dogged goal.

To be continued…


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