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Humility, an underrated virtue

he had just been posted to my unit as the new driver. After the preliminary briefing, he blurted out: “Madam, anything you like just do to me, I don’t want what happened to me at my previous place of employment to happen to me here. Some drivers warned that you are very strict, but one Baba, also a driver, told me that you are very kind, that you have done so much for him and other drivers.” How Admin could assign such a garrulous staff to a sensitive department, I wondered in dismay. While ruminating on the next line of action, my curiosity got the better of me and I asked him, ‘Please what happened to you at your previous place of employment?’

The man gave a startling narrative that also changed my perspective. He said: “Ma, at that place, all the drivers used to run from the Chairman, but one very humble guy always made himself available, hardly taking any offence. As at the time I resigned my appointment, the Chairman had given that man three houses. I have never forgiven myself; imagine a driver like me owning three houses, just because he put himself down for his Oga. Madam, I really regret the opportunity I missed. This time, I will not make the same mistake.”

Sincerely speaking, I spent reasonable time ruminating on that story. Working in a new generation bank, with a flat structure, on a first name basis with the Managing Director, humility was a scarce commodity. The appraisal template was skewed in favour technical skills, with scant regard for soft skills. Even though, target achievement was the prescribed basis for career advancement, the reality was that soft issues carried the upper hand. Promotion was based on recommendation from the superior officer. Period. It was serious food for thought, the man a divine messenger because it was like a brutally honest self assessment; the need for urgent change of disposition was imperative. The driver was retained while my fortunes took a dramatic change for the better, owing to a better relationship with my own superiors.

We are all born naked, but no one was born empty. There is a divine deposit in the life of every mortal, a virtue waiting to be tapped. That simple wisdom from a driver gave my career a major boost.

Former presidents, late Umaru Yar Adua and Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, both had modesty as their key selling points. Immediate past Governor of Lagos State, and current Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, rode on the structure of his former boss, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, now National Leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress. Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, started out under his maternal uncles. Popular entertainer, Ayo Maku, attributes his success to the tutelage of the godfather of comedy in Nigeria, Ali Baba (real name Atunyota Alleluya Akporobomerere). The General Overseer, the Redeemed Christian Church of God, worldwide, Pastor E.A.Adeboye, was listed among the 50 Most Influential People on Earth, these notable figures are all people of diffidence. Humility made the journey to the top easier for them.

Sadly, this prized virtue is in very short supply today. Everywhere, people are consumed by an overrated opinion of themselves, scoring own goals against their quest for success.

Humility is defined as the quality of having a modest or low view of one’s importance. It is also the state or quality of not thinking you are better than other people.

Etiquette recognizes respect for others as paramount, with underlying regard for the feeling of others. Humbleness is one of the greatest assets any one can have, deployed by the strong and despised by the weak.

Humility makes one attractive; people are typically drawn to unassuming people while ego maniacs constantly run into road blocks. A lowly attitude creates a good impression on others. A meek character presents you as human, willing to learn and improve, rather than obsession with self, modesty thinks less about one’s importance.

The etiquette advantage provides easy tools for success. According to Paul D’Astolis, “Humility is more important than confidence, humility is an underrated virtue. Humility is an asset for self-improvement. By remaining humble, you are receptive to opportunities to improve.”

Humility is not only under rated; it is incredibly under-utilized. The good news is that you can cultivate it.

Modest people are hardly challenged; why not make it your secret weapon?

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