My Favorite Character Trait
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Guest post by Robert Boich
Honesty is a good one. I think we all would like to surround ourselves with individuals that tell the truth, but even the great trait of honesty can be a bit brutal at times. Reliability, dependability, generosity, compassion, empathy, and trustworthiness are all admirable qualities, and I would like to think that I posses sizable portions of each of these characteristics.
Over the past several years I have been intrigued by another trait, one which I have been aware of for just about as long as I can remember; but one that, at the same time, I didn’t fully understand. Which trait am I talking about? HUMILITY!
Ask a dozen people what the definition of humility is and chances are that you might get a dozen different answers. I know; I found myself in just such a situation during a meeting three years ago. Several members of the group drew a blank. I can’t remember what my exact response was. I know that I struggled with the concept. I wasn’t sure whether my definition accurately described the thoughts I was trying to convey.
I can remember turning to the dictionary for some direction on the topic, but even the good old American Heritage Dictionary was of little help. As to my query regarding humility the good book simply described it as a noun, and mentioned something about the quality or condition of being humble, and a lack of pride.
That didn’t sound very promising. I thought pride was a good thing. I decided that I better check the definition for humble; maybe that would clear things up.
Nope, not a lot of help there either. All I got was: adjective, and a couple of examples about being marked by meekness or modesty in behavior, attitude and spirit; showing deferential or submissive respect, and low rank or station. As a verb it was even worse; to humiliate, or to make lower in condition or station.
I was still confused. Was humility good or bad? The dictionary did mention unpretentious, which I liked: the kind of modesty that the MVP in a championship game might exhibit when giving all of the credit for the victory to his fellow teammates. Aside from that aspect, however, most of the other traits didn’t seem to me like very strong characteristics, or goals that I should strive for.
Ever since that meeting I’ve become quite attentive whenever the topic is brought up. I enjoy hearing what other people have to say about it. I think it can be a very misunderstood concept. In the past I used to think of humility as the byproduct of some misdeed or errant behavior. I would be humbled by something I had done: most likely something unflattering, to say the least.
It took me a while, but I finally began to grasp the importance of the word. I now believe that genuine humility is one of the loftiest character traits that a person can attain; as well as being one of the most difficult to hang on to.
As a human being I have certain short comings and defects. Without humility my ego will prevent me from acknowledging my character flaws. Now-a-days I look at humility as not necessarily thinking less of myself as I do thinking of myself less. As for being humble, it’s simple: to be humble is to remain teachable.
As long as I am willing to listen to my fellow man and hear what he or she has to say I have a good chance of keeping my ego and my own personal flaws at bay. It sounds simple, but that’s where it gets difficult—the part about hanging on to my humility—I mean. The problem is that as soon as I start to think that I’m getting it, I have the tendency to begin to become un-teachable. It can be a bit of a catch-22, if you know what I mean.
Robert Boich is the author of Excuse Me, Your Life Is Waiting! ; A Bridge from Addiction to Early Recovery. Robert was born in Phoenix, Arizona. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado, and attended Ohio Northern University where he graduated with a law degree. The author also received his LLM in Taxation from Boston University. He is currently working on his second book, a novel based on World War One and the battle of Verdun. Mr. Boich lives in Dublin, Ohio with his wife and children. You can find out more about the author and his book on his website at http://www.rwboich.com/ .
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