I am happy to share this guest post by Joel Scott. Through his blog, Joel shares his stories and perspectives to help create positive change in the lives of others. Joel reached out to me about a month ago and asked if me if I wanted to swap posts. We decided to share each of our perspectives around the theme of gratitude and humility. Please join me in enjoying Joel’s article!
A few days ago I received a video call from my brother in-law. In the technology filled world that we live in, this may not sound strange to you but understand that he never video calls me.
Our communication amongst each other is predominantly done through quick text messages, friendly phone calls, or images reserved for two men who haven’t quite grown up. By the simple fact he was reaching out to me through a video I knew something was up.
And something was.
He and his wife married earlier this year and I was humbled when he asked me to be in his wedding party. During the limousine ride to where the wedding pictures were being taken, the two of them shared with the wedding party that she was pregnant and expecting in September. My wife, his sister, who was also in the party welled up with tears and I did my best to hold them back.
Fast-forward 7 months and while working in a coffee shop I received the aforementioned video call. As I answered, I took immediate notice of his surroundings.
- Stark walls
- Drab interior
He wasn’t at home.
With a joyous smile on his face, he proudly proclaimed himself a new Father and me a new Uncle. This man and his wife might very well be the most deserving parents on our planet. To say I was overjoyed is an understatement.
Without even giving me a chance to say anything, he asked when I was coming to visit. Within seconds on our video call ending, I found myself packing up my computer, starting the engine of my vehicle and making my way to the hospital.
I didn’t need to hold Baylee to know that on this day, these two new parents were filled with emotion that they had never felt before. I could see it in their eyes and feel it through their unspoken language. Suddenly, after a whirlwind couple of days, the two of them felt both gratitude and humility that they had never felt and I couldn’t be happier or more proud of them.
It got me wondering. If the feeling of gratitude and humility is as desired as they made it appear, why don’t we make more time for it? Why do we find it so difficult to fit gratitude and humility into our lives?
I argue that as humans we have become so fixated on our professional lives that we simply don’t think to make time for it. We constantly inundate ourselves with trying to land the next big deal, score the next goal, gain that big promotion, out perform our past selves, and continually one up those around us that we forget the things that actually define who we are.
We forget that at the end of our days those around us will not remember us for the positions we held, the goals we scored, or the deals we landed. We will be remembered for the way we treated those around us.
Oft quoted, Maya Angelou is right when she said:
“At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”
Yet, sometimes we forget this. We desire to sit atop the corporate ladder and selfishly we won’t stop until we get there. Along the way we push, pull, and step on and over anyone in our path. Once we achieve what we have set out to do, we proudly proclaim it to those below us. Worse yet, we convince ourselves that someone is always looking to take our spot and this keeps our competitiveness at a high.
It isn’t always this way. In our homes, we are very different.
As we look to our children, spouses, pets, and all else that we prize, words like blessed, lucky, and fortunate fill our vocabulary. We find it easy to practice gratitude and humility because at home there is no need for competition.
It has been said that the strongest people are the ones who are not afraid to show weakness. These people live their lives knowing that true strength lies in one’s own ability to be truthful to themselves. These people know that doing this means to become vulnerable.
This isn’t as easy as it sounds.
At our most impressionable time, we’re taught that how others perceive us is just as, if not more important than the way we perceive ourselves. What we wear, how we talk, the way we style our hair, and how we come across is taught to be crucial to our very existence. The halls of our schools are filled with “Did you see what they were wearing?” and “Don’t you know it’s not cool to talk like that?” Peer pressure sculpts us and we work hard to fit in and will whatever it takes to do so.
We are taught that to survive the world, we must transform ourselves into a lion and not a lamb.
In a cruel way, we are shown that lions are born into supremacy and rule the land they roam. Lions rarely feel hardship because they are King and as King, it is believed that they live with an exaggerated sense of entitlement. There is no room in the heart of the Lion for gratitude or humility because quite simply, these qualities make them appear weak.
Lambs, on the other hand, don’t fear weakness.
Living their lives much further down the food chain, Lambs wake each day with a renewed sense of appreciation. The Lamb counts its blessings. The Lamb knows that its end could come soon and therefore remains grateful for each second it gets. As it grows, it grows humble and respectful of its surroundings. Unlike the Lion who has to be competitive to get to and remain at the top, the Lamb doesn’t aspire to achieve this because it’s grateful for where it is and what it has.
We must also learn to control our egos.
As you well know, the ego is not easily controlled because well, it feels good to feel good. When we have done something to be proud of, our ego tells us to broadcast it to the world. This isn’t a bad thing. We should never fear telling others of our accomplishments. When doing this, however, we must keep in mind that there is a fine line between telling and bragging.
And on that line lies a balloon that constantly remains near explosion.
Eventually, if like that balloon, we cross the line and our egos explode, we often find that those closest to us become hurt. When we hurt those closest to us, the trust that we had built up becomes damaged and without warning those who we expect to share our excitement are no longer interested.
As you can see, it is of the utmost importance that we practice and implement gratitude and humility in our day-to-day lives.
And how do we do this?
Through simple practice, taking it one step at a time, and, of course, plenty of patience.
Know that implementing new beliefs, systems, values or rituals takes time and cannot be done quickly. If we rush to achieve it, the results will almost certainly be disastrous.
Each of us needs to learn to open ourselves up and show vulnerability. Like the lamb, we cannot fear being perceived as weak. Instead, we must believe that it takes strength to mentally, verbally, and physically show that we are appreciative of the things in our lives.
Personally, I wake each day just as the lamb does…with sincere gratitude and humility.
This means that I wake up and tell the world how grateful I am that it has given me another chance at making the lives around me better. Once this is done I then tell it (and myself) how much I appreciate all that it has given me.
You’d be amazed how good this feels.
If you choose to do this, you may find that at the beginning your list of things to tell might be small. That’s ok. Just add one item each day and you’ll surprise yourself with how quickly your list grows.
Know that the world wants to help in any way it can but it cannot do this if we aren’t grateful for its efforts. As well, understand that the world is not selfish but does like to be thanked every now and then. It wants to see that as we morph into the people it knows we can be, we remain humble.
Finally, don’t make the mistake of believing that happiness is the result of achievement. Happiness is the result of gratitude, humility, and appreciation. The sooner this is learned, the better off we’ll all be.
Cheers to your success,
Joel Scott is a family man. Everything that he does is for his wife and son. They keep him focused and moving forward. His purpose in life is to help as many people as possible and then when he believes that he has helped everyone, help a few more. He is an active real estate investor, personal development junkie, and comic book lover. He has spent the last number of years turning all of his passions into avenues that will help him achieve his goals. Joel can be found blogging over at www.joelascott.com and his book can be downloaded here.