I recently read a news article how Timea Bacsinszky reached the semi-finals of the French Open 2015. The article can be read on:
As per the news reports, Timea entered the semi-finals despite not being among the favorites and that too considering she used to work in a hotel as a worker. The headlines itself was so catchy that I couldn’t keep my eyes off it and read the entire article.
Timea was a child prodigy in tennis and stopped playing tennis when she was frustrated with injuries. For the next two years she was working in a hotel only to come back to the sport with vengeance.
When asked whether her stint with the hotel helped her in tennis, she said:
“I don’t know if it really helps me for my forehand or backhand, but it gives you a lot of humility because there are many people in this world who are working in restaurants, hotels, in the kitchen, who are making our beds in hotels”.
“I’m not only talking about tennis players. There are many, many players who don’t realise maybe how lucky they are also to have enough money to go to a restaurant. I learned what it was like to be on the other side. My colleagues didn’t actually know that I played tennis.”
This statement shows the humbleness of a great athlete and how working in different situations one gets to learn so much. It is probably her humility towards the life that helped her get back into action and reach to the semi-final of a prestigious tennis tournament.
What I want to highlight through this incidence is the aspect of ‘humility’ and its link with ‘success’. In the words of William Penn – “Humility and knowledge in poor clothes excel pride and ignorance in costly attire”.
If we think very deeply, the truthiness of this statement cannot be undermined. Humility and knowledge generally go hand in hand and those who have both are the masters of their subjects and experts in their fields. One of my seniors once said to me “Nimish, a tree with fruits always bends, whereas a barren tree stands straight and tall”. What he meant was a person filled with knowledge is always humble vis-à-vis a person without knowledge who always stand straight with pride and arrogance.
If we look at the top entrepreneurs like Mr. Narayan Murthy or Mr. Ratan Tata and also look at some of the top athletes like Sachin Tendulkar, the feeling of modesty and humility is engrained in them to the core. They are the masters of their field and but at the same time, extremely humble as well. So how do you reach a level when people will start to recognize you and at the same time you ensure that success doesn’t go in your head, rather you remain humble.
In my view the chain of transactions of life go as follows:
1. You work hard and with perseverance start accumulating knowledge;
2. Once the knowledge base is available, you start to use it for your benefit and growth;
3. With the correct usage of knowledge, you start to grow and reach a level of success;
4. With success comes money, power and fame and then either you remain humble or reach a level of arrogance.
I think this is typically how everyone reach a particular level and then over a period of time and depending on the circumstances, he/she either enjoy the success or takes it into his/her head and get into the path of arrogance.
If we take an example of a student who works extremely hard and with his hard work achieves super success in examinations. He becomes a qualified CA or lawyer or an engineer and then starts to work towards achieving his goals. He works harder, starts to become successful in career and gradually also starts to become successful in personal and social life. He makes more friends, he probably makes rich and successful friends and his/her acceptability increases in the social circles. From a simple boy/girl he/she becomes a successful and famous personality. This is how any person succeeds. Isn’t it?
But the reality is that not every successful person takes success in the right spirit. One can be a Mahatma Gandhi and the other can be an Adolf Hitler, both were highly successful in their own fields, but completely opposite in their behavior and character.
In my personal opinion becoming successful and thereafter remaining humble is difficult because success generally drives everyone crazy. However, if we take few steps in our daily life, there are chances that success might not disturb our character and we continue to remain the way we started.
1. Enjoy small wins
Make it a habit to start enjoying small wins on a daily basis so that winning and enjoying become a habit to you. Since our childhood we have learnt to enjoy only big wins of our life and never the smaller ones. For example, our parents would have been extremely joyful only when we stood first in our class and obviously the levels of joy they expressed drove your levels of joy. Rarely would have been the case when the levels of joy in coming first in the class would have equaled the level of joy of clearing that class itself. Are you not supposed to have joy in your life on the fact that you achieved success in clearing a class, is only coming first a driver to have more joy.
Start to enjoy even the small wins in your life. Be happy when you finish your day’s to-do list, celebrate finishing a chapter of your study course, derive joy from holding someone’s hand and making him/her cross the road, celebrate your win by finish writing your daily journal (http://nimishgoel.com/write-journal-or-diary-daily-why-how/).
Try and find happiness in all the activities that you finish, because “finishing is winning”.
2. Express Gratitude
Expressing gratitude in life is the best way to receive happiness and consequently, humility. One of the verses in the Bible mentions that “Whoever has gratitude will be given more and he or she will have it in abundance. Whoever does not have gratitude, even what he or she has will be taken from him or her”.
Once you develop the habit of expressing gratitude your thoughts and life moves from a feeling of scarcity to a feeling of abundance. Thank everyone around you to have been blessed with whatever you have. Thank your parents for a wonderful living they gave you, thank your teachers for education they imparted, thank your guru for guiding you and showing the path of success, thank your friends for being with you always, thank your servants for being at your service when you need them.
There are people who can’t even dream of a life we have and gratitude is the best way to keep this life intact with us.
3. Be Superlative in your skills
Professionals, athletes and entrepreneurs who are extremely good in their skills and jobs tend to be more humble and that’s probably because the weight of knowledge makes them bend and look more humble. The more you work on your self, on your skills the less time you’ll have to criticize.
Be very good in whatever you do be it serving your customers, working in your job, studying for your examinations.
4. Have Your Goals Planned Very Well
In the words of Mahatma Gandhi “the two most important days of your life are when you were born and the day when you realized the purpose of your birth”.
With a clear sense of a purpose in your life you will be more focused on achieving success and the fruits of success shall surely help you achieve humility.
5. Enjoy Your Life
Whatever happens in our life, we should try and be happy. In every incidence of our life try and find the best even if it’s not the most pleasant of the incidences. Think of the opportunity that can be explored and work on it.
In the end I would like to end with a beautiful quote from a book I read:
“Don’t sweat the small stuff…and its all small stuff”
I hope this article motivates you, inspires you and helps you achieve loads of success with even larger loads of humility.
Authored by Nimish Goel (www.nimishgoel.com), a qualified chartered accountant who’s passion is to coach young chartered accountants and aspiring students achieve the best in their life. Nimish used to work with EY and PwC in India and has also worked with KPMG in Europe. He now runs his own consulting company and runs a blog www.nimishgoel.com. He can be reached for any queries and issues on his blog.