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Finding A Cure for I Disease


The 21-year-old rookie cop had his big chance to brag on himself at his big news conference. "How do you feel about being the one to capture Eric Rudolph, FBI's Most Wanted?" the reporter asked. The young man's reply: "I was just doing my job, sir. It was all in a day's work." I was struck by this young man's humility, a rare quality in our narcissistic, "me, me, me" world.

EPIDEMIC OF THE "I" DISEASE

Benjamin Franklin devised a week-by-week plan to improve his character by working on thirteen virtues. Franklin's sharp focus, meticulous record-keeping, and diligent work yielded improvements in the first twelve virtues - temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, tranquility, cleanliness, and chastity. However, he found that every time he began to make progress in developing humility, he got proud of it!

I think we all have a touch of the "I Disease". I even had the delightful experience of observing it in the animal kingdom last weekend. During an afternoon trip to the zoo with my granddaughter Scarlett, we watched two male peacocks vying for the attention of a single seemingly disinterested female, spreading their gorgeous feathers and adding to the display by shaking them toward her when she came near.Five-year-old Scarlett commented, "Girls sometimes ignore boys when they're showing out!" Anyway, these guys strutted proudly, each trying to outdo the other. There was no humility to be found in this competitive display. How similar to the way we humans often behave!

Recently, while reading the book "A Love Worth Giving" by Max Lucado, I was challenged to acknowledge my own selfishness. Take the test with me. You look at a group photo that includes you. Does your liking of the picture depend on whether you look good, no matter how everyone else looks? If others are cross-eyed and have spinach in their teeth and you still like the picture, you probably have a bad case of it! Like me, you may be due for an "I checkup."

(Hopefully we aren't quite as afflicted with it as Ted Turner, who is quoted as saying, "If I only had a little more humility, I'd be perfect.") Humility does not mean that you become a passive doormat who doesn't stand up for what is right. In fact, genuinely humble people are psychologically secure. They are free to respect others and themselves. They have no need to prove their worth.

THREE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN PRIDE AND HUMILITY

True humility leads to wisdom and ends in honor. Conversely, narcissism and pride produce stymied personal growth, disturbed relationships, and an eventual fall.

Benjamin Whichcote said, "None are so empty as those who are full of themselves."

Which of these characteristics describe you?

1. Are you arrogant, or are you confident?

Do your attitudes and actions indicate that you see yourself above others? Do you act like a know-it-all who is never wrong?

Or are you confident enough to listen and take correction? William Safire said, "Nobody stands taller than thosewilling to stand corrected."

Do you believe in yourself enough to tackle new and difficult tasks, honestly appreciating your own talents while fully acknowledging your need for the help of others?

Peter Marshall summed up this aspect of humility when he prayed, "Lord, where we are wrong, make us willing to change; where we are right, make us easy to live with."

2. Are you concerned with who is right, or with what is right?

Do you find it hard to let go of an argument until you have "won"? (Note: If you "win", you haven't. It's not over!) Are you upset when someone challenges your knowledge or authority? Do you have a sense of entitlement, believing that your wants have priority and sulking or exploding when others don't believe the same?

Or do you focus on principles (not just your own)? Do you look for the truth in all perspectives and work to put together a solution that works for all? Do you take responsibility for improving the situations in which you find yourself?

Swallow your pride occasionally; it's not non-fattening!

3. Which is more important to you - status or service?

Do you crave public recognition for your good deeds? How important are titles to you? Do you bristle when someone fails to recognize your achievements or status?

Biblical wisdom and modern scientific management research confirm the same principle: the person who would lead must become a servant.

Are you habitually looking for ways to serve others...equipping and enabling them become all they can be? Is helping people your heartfelt motivation?

WHO'S IMPORTANT?

In closing, I invite you to reflect with me on these thoughts from Max Lucado: "If I think that you are more important than I am, and you think I am more important than you are, and he thinks she is more important than he is, and she think she is more important than she is?then in the end everyone feels important, but no one acts important."

You know, I think that could work!

Dr. Bev Smallwood is a psychologist who has worked with organizations across the globe for over 20 years. Her high-energy, high-content, high-involvement Magnetic Workplaces (r) programs provide dozens of practical strategies and skills that can be put to work immediately to:

  • build strong leaders who influence and develop others through serving

  • energize, motivate, and retain team members

  • successfully accomplish important organizational transitions

  • impress customers and build their loyalty

  • Review a complete list of her programs available for your convention or corporate meeting at the website, www.MagneticWorkplaces.com


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