In our previous Wisdom Note, we learned how wisdom is better than gold. This week we will learn why true success requires humility. If you miss any of our Wisdom Notes, please go to the blog to read past newsletters.
Some people may look at our lives and think, “Wow! They have a lot, and they get to travel and do a lot of neat and exciting things.” While this season of life is busy for us, as I look back, every season of our life has been very busy. While we have had some success and do have some opportunities that others may not have, we also put in a lot of work, energy, time, and sacrifice in order for it to happen. As I grow older and hopefully wiser, it is much more important to move from success to significance and from income to impact.
We still struggle with life as much as anyone does, and the grass always appears greener on the other side – none of us are exempt from those thoughts. Through the seasons of life, though, I have come to discover that actually, the grass is greener when it is watered. So, water your grass where you are today, and who knows. Maybe your lawn will grow to be larger as a result. If that is the case, then an exhortation that I would like to extend is, “Don’t let success go to your head. Always remain humble, and be kind to others.”
On our trek for this week, let us explore the trail of…
True Success Requires Humility
The stories are all too common. After years of hard work pursuing their life dreams, these self-motivated, high achievers reach the pinnacle of success that they feel is so richly deserved. But, what comes next? You guessed it. They let success go to their heads. Whatever happened to being humble?
Unfortunately many people that reach a level of what the world considers success start to think they’re special. They buy expensive “toys” to show how successful they’ve become, and they push aside colleagues who’ve helped them achieve success. They abandon the values and principles that have made them successful. Worse yet, because they’re successful in one area of their life, which is usually thought of as financial success, they come to think they’re experts in everything.
The sad fact is that many who have obtained financial success have done so at the expense of their families, friends, integrity, and health. I struggle with considering this success because the most important aspects of life are something that no amount of money or resources can purchase. I am not opposed to anyone obtaining financial success because the impact that you can have on your world grows exponentially when you have additional resources. An interesting aspect, though, is that if you are unwilling to help others when you have limited resources, it usually does not change when you have more.
If you are unwilling to help others when you have limited resources usually does not change when you have more.
The simple truth is that not everyone treats success the same. Some people who achieve success remain humble, never forgetting who they are nor from where they came. The others? Well, we can learn from their mistakes. Unless you were born into wealth, you probably came from humble beginnings, so here are a few tips to assist on your journey to success in any aspect of life.
Success is temporary.
Success is a journey, not a destination. When you become successful, don’t rest on your laurels. As soon as you take your eye off the ball, you risk losing your edge.
Stop feeding your ego.
Don’t isolate yourself from reality by building relationships with people who stroke your ego. Surrounding yourself with “yes people” is just like talking to yourself.
Compete against yourself.
When you compete against others, it’s easy to emphasize winning over self-improvement. However, when you compete against yourself, you both win.
Even experts have room to learn.
Never stop learning and growing. Know your limitations and admit when you don’t know something. It’ll help to keep you grounded.
Discover what others have to offer and ask for their opinions before opening your mouth. It shows that you value their opinions as well as their insight.
No one’s perfect.
Don’t let success go to your head. Be quick to apologize for your mistakes. You’ll never learn anything or impress anyone by making excuses and diverting blame. And a little humility will remind you that you’re human.
Share your success.
You may be successful, but there’s a good chance others helped you along the way. Find creative ways to share the credit and pull people up the ladder of success along with you.
Remember your roots.
Remember where you came from and what you’ve learned along the way. Help others by mentoring them.
Get off your high horse. Treat everyone with dignity and respect. You may be successful, but that doesn’t make you better than anyone else.
Bragging is ugly.
There’s a difference between excitement and bragging. We know you’re thrilled about your new “toy,” but others may be cutting back on even their basic needs — be sensitive. As John Wooden said, “Talent is God-given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.”
Money and success can’t buy a person’s trust or guarantee a good reputation. You earn these through your words AND actions. There’s nothing more valuable in life than integrity. Trust me.
Many of us come from humble beginnings. I grew up in a family of 12 in an old farmhouse on an apple orchard. We were poor, but I didn’t realize it because our lives were full of love and hard work. I would not wish it any other way.
You can make something of yourself through the pursuit of knowledge, integrity, hard work, wisdom, following the principles of planting and harvesting, and by God’s grace. Yes, you can be thankful for the success that they’ve earned. But realize that ultimately it is by God’s grace, and that doesn’t give anyone the right to be rude or disrespectful to others.
The unfortunate reality is that some people get a big thrill from boasting about their accomplishments or showing off their possessions. They’ve convinced themselves that they’re better than others are. The fact is, some people let success go to their heads, and they gain a weird satisfaction from pushing people around. That’s wrong and should be avoided. On the other hand, just as it’s disgusting for the “haves” to look down on others, it’s equally disdainful for “have-nots” to resent those who’ve worked hard and have rightfully earned their success. For many humble people have become successful through much sacrifice, heartache, and struggle. You never know what others have had to go through in their pursuit of success, so be careful not to judge.
The truth is, all the money in the world doesn’t make you a better person. It simply means that you have more money. Real wealth is achieved by appreciating what you already have in life. After all, money can’t buy everything. It can’t buy a close-knit family, good friends, a clear conscience, work-life balance, a happy home, a second chance in life, or future success, among other things.
So, don’t let success go to your head. Be humble. Humility is a sign of strength, not weakness. People with humility possess inner peace. They’re modest about their achievements, grounded in their values, and they have nothing to prove to others. They’re down to earth, comfortable in their own skin, and quietly proud. Humble people shift their focus from taking to giving, from talking about themselves to listening to others, from hoarding the credit to deflecting the praise, and from being a “know-it-all” to knowing there’s so much more in life worth learning. There’s no ego, no pretense, and certainly no gamesmanship. Humble people are authentic. As C.S. Lewis said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”
Here are a few verses from Proverbs that teaches us a bit more about humility.
Proverbs 11:2 – Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.
Proverbs 15:33 – Fear of the Lord teaches wisdom; humility precedes honor.
Proverbs 18:12 – Haughtiness goes before destruction; humility precedes honor.
Proverbs 22:4 – True humility and fear of the Lord lead to riches, honor, and long life.
Proverbs 29:23 – Pride ends in humiliation, while humility brings honor.
On our trek we hiked the trail of success and learned that it passes through the valley of humility. We should seek our success in all aspects of life. To do less would be to not fulfill your God-given calling. In doing so, though, remember that it is by God’s grace and “…in him we live and move and exist.” Encourage your friends and family to join us on our 5-days a week podcast: Wisdom-Trek, Creating a Legacy.