I don’t know about you guys, but when I get a compliment, I feel my ego inflate a little bit. Come on, you can’t tell me that when someone congratulates you on a job well done, you don’t feel a little more special than everyone else J. But in my efforts to be humble, I always try to remember that every decision I have made has been shaped by the actions of someone else. Giving the credit to whom it is due is an important part of demonstrating humility. Yet, after experiencing one of the most exciting events of my life with my Modest Miracle Maker, I have learned the important second component of being a truly humble person: the ability to support someone else in achieving her dreams.
“WHAT???” I exclaimed into the phone. Wait, wait, wait, I think you’ve got it all wrong, I thought. The Young Humanitarian of the Year is supposed to be some incredible kid that cured cancer! There’s no way they can be talking about…
“You, yes, you! You’ve won the nomination!” the joyful voices on the phone said to me. “We’ll call you in a couple of weeks to help you prepare for your speech at our formal banquet, but until then, congratulations!”
Oh my goodness, it really is me! I thought excitedly. I can’t believe this!!!!
I received this amazing news in early June, so I had until late September to write my acceptance speech (and allow the shock to wear off J). The first week after I had received the news, I felt like I was floating on air. Not only was I excited for the experience, I was also really glad that I would be able to present my reasons for volunteering to members of my community. I get to be a voice for the all my friends who are involved in community service….YAY!!!!
As the weeks progressed and my excitement began to wear off, I started to feel a bit uncomfortable about receiving the honor. If I were a genuinely humble person, I wouldn’t need to be recognized for what I do, right? I thought. I can’t misguide my community into believing that I deserve all the credit for my passion for volunteering. I felt like embracing my honor as the Young Humanitarian would mean I was abandoning my humility as a community serviceperson.
This feeling festered inside me, and after a little while, I felt so guilty about receiving the honor that I did not want to accept it at all. After my once sky-high spirits had been weighed down by worries I shared my concerns with my MMM.
“What are you talking about?” my MMM said to me. “Of course your community knows you are grateful for this honor! If you were not a humble person, you would not have achieved anything they are recognizing you for!”
Of course you have to say that, you’re my friend, I thought. “How can I let them know about all the things other people have done for me? You of all people should understand what I mean, MMM. You are one of the main reasons why I am even being honored!”
“Oh, I haven’t done anything. You won this award based on what you did. Your heart guided you, okay? Other people have helped you, but you had all this in you from the beginning,” MMM said. Although I still felt a bit uncomfortable about receiving the honor, my pep talk with MMM boosted my confidence.
As I began writing my speech for the banquet, I realized it was possible for me to relate my personal service successes to the impact others have had on my life. When I presented my speech a couple of weeks later, I thought about all the amazing people that had contributed to my achievements, including my MMM.
A few weeks later, I thought about what MMM had said during our pep talk. There is no way I had accomplished everything I did simply because of who I am. MMM knows that just as well as I do. I thought. Then, like a beam of light shining through the clouds (cue the angelic voices), it hit me. Even though MMM knew it wasn’t just my efforts that contributed to my success, s/he was trying to give me the confidence I needed to write my speech. If I didn’t chat with MMM, I could not have given my genuine message to my community.
Although my MMM has made a huge impact on what I have achieved in my life, s/he set aside any desires for personal recognition to guide and support me while I was being recognized. Instead of seeking a place in my Oscar-esque speech (right after my director, but before my fans), my MMM was focused on lifting me up to achieve the most I could. I thought I was learning humility by recognizing others in my own achievements; little did I know that every influence others had on my life had been teaching me humility as well J.
Lesson Learned: An important part of humility is helping others achieve without seeking any credit. Acknowledging the influence others have had on your life allows you to think you are humble, but selflessly helping others succeed is how you prove it. Everything from being recognized in front of your community to an ordinary compliment is an opportunity for you to demonstrate genuine humility. The next time someone congratulates you on a job well done, don’t just think about your humility, prove it. J
Humility does not mean thinking less of yourself than of other people, nor does it mean having a low opinion of your own gifts. It means freedom from thinking about yourself at all. ~William Temple