Humility, Uncategorized

Humility is Better than Being Good or Great

“GOOD is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great. We don’t have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don’t have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life,” so declares Jim Collins, a best-selling author, in his 2001 opus. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t.

Collins discusses many ideas about how organizations can become good to great. What strikes me the most, however, is you can become great, only if you’re humble. He calls it Level 5 Leadership – leaders who are humble, but driven to do what’s best for the company. Unfortunately, in today’s world, it is difficult to find humility among our corporate leaders. That’s why they’re not great.

It’s timely, indeed. Humility was the subject of yesterday’s gospel – Luke 14: 8-14 on the parable of wedding feast: “8When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited.

“9 If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you —‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. “10 But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests.

“11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Humility is difficult to understand because when people reach a certain status they tend to project themselves more in every situation and in every step of the way so that they will not lose sight of any imaginable status that they want in life.

In any situation, the seat or any location you’ll choose is the one that gives you a vantage point where you’re fronting the stage or the white screen (for any presentation) while at the same time you can have an easy eyeball-to-eyeball exercise with everyone.

To protect your territory from invaders, ensure that a disposable prop (like a thought-provoking bestseller that you bought from a book sale) to be on top of your desk or chair where you can leave them while you’re at the restroom.

The situation can be applied in a photo session. You know you are fingerling but you can prop yourself up like a mean shark by shunning the chairs. Instead, go upright behind the chairs and position yourself behind the chair at the center. It’s just like in a game of chess. The one who controls the center of the board would always win.

Now, you know why an average performer can’t be an excellent worker. That’s because it’s easy to become an average person than a great person.

NOTE: This article is an abridged version of the author’s article entitled “From Good to Great…to Being Humble” which was published in his Aug 29, 2016 Beyond Buzzword’s column in The Manila Times. Image credit goes to  


In problem-solving, the first solution that comes to your mind is wrong.

IT’S IMPOSSIBLE for an important message to enter your mind through an open, biased mouth. This statement rings true in this cute story: There was a little boy who heard the phone ring. He ran to the phone, picked it up and answered it. The caller was a telemarketer, with the following conversation ensuing:

“Is your mother home?”

“Nope,” the boy replied. “Then is your father home?”

“Sorry, he’s out for work.” “Aside from you, is there anyone I can speak to?” the telemarketer insisted.

“Yep, my sister is here.” “May I speak to her, please?”

“OK.” The telemarketer waited for a long time. Finally the boy returned: “I’m back. Sorry, but I can’t lift her out of the playpen.”

Do you have the same type of miscommunication happening in your organization? The answer must be a big “YES.” The situation may vary, but just the same — one thing is clear — it’s difficult to communicate successfully, because you’re also trying to jump to a conclusion. Sometimes, disagreements happen on the real problem or its causes. To avoid such trigger-happy miscommunication, here are the four basic approaches that you can use:

1. Know exactly your objective.

2. Identify the recipients of your message.

3. Show conviction and confidence in your message.

4. Have an open mind to other objective options.


Solicit complaints and open the door to opportunities.

HEYWOOD BROUN (1888-1939), the New York sportswriter, columnist, and editor who founded the American newspaper “Guild,” was leaving the theatre after a Broadway opening and met the producer at the lobby. The latter took one look at Broun’s suit, which was rumpled as usual, and said with some annoyance: “That’s a fine way to dress for my gala night. Your suit looks as if it had been slept in.”

“Since you mentioned it,” replied Broun, “Yes, I just woke up.”

How would you define the opportunity or opportunities in that situation? If you’re Broun or the producer, what would you do? The answer depends on where you are seated (or have slept). As one popular adage keeps reminding us — “opportunities come in work clothes.” They can’t be seen or if seen, you can’t appreciate it because they’re couched in the negative tense. They are undercover. But that’s normal. You can’t simply appreciate complaints, issues, or problems from customers, much more from bystanders. That’s the challenge. Fortunately, that’s where the fun lies.

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