Category Archives: Humility

Darkest before the dawn

For many people the events of life pummel them with more darkness than light.    You can imagine waking up and knowing that the world that provides you with hope and opportunity is suddenly collasping in all around you.  

Nancy Brook happens to be one of those people who’s life quickly grew dark.   Her new book talks about her experience of surviving a marriage that quickly imploded as did her life.   Relying on her strength of character and a dream she moved out of despair and onto a path of hope.   Nancy fell but was able to get up and write a new chapter in her book of life.

Nancy’s new book “Cycling, Wine and Men” contains a number of lessons, transforming lessons that were able to ultimately allow Nancy to reframe life in a way that she was able to live her dreams.  

The book fits many of the themes of life coaching and leadership.  It is a story of maintaining an attitude of success in the midst of great distress.   For Nancy it was a road of discovery and reward.   How many people can and do live out their dreams?   Well this story shows that it is possible, that dreams can and do come true even when it is the darkest before the dawn.

Perhaps life has dealt you the cards you really don’t want and maybe each day is just a little bit harder than the day before.  Grab ahold of some hope in your outstretched hands, and hold on tight, believe that it is possible, believe every day that it is possible to reach your dreams.  

Believe that you can.  Take a look at the video clip

the art and practice of humility

HEART in coaching with HEART has more meaning than just the word HEART.  HEART means, humility, encouragement, acknowledgement, relationships and trust.

Having HEART means working on those five life essentials daily and it means reflecting on each element and asking the question “Did I perform them well?” In our society standing out is more important than letting others shine.

Wayne Mack writes from his book “Humility” this definition, “… a truly humble person is not arrogant and assuming in his relationship with people”.    The value opposite of humility is pride.  Pride says that “I am” all that is, I am all that others need to see or hear.  In other words pride is putting the center of focus on the individual rather than away from it.

Practicing thankfulness is one way to begin to defeat pride.   Being thankful for all of life including other people is emblematic of those who are humble.   Putting others first in all of life is an act of humility.

Pride says, “I am better than ___________”.   Pride has no room for others.

If pride takes over a person’s life then there is little room for others to share or play a part in that person’s life.  If pride pushes other people away, humility draws other people closer.

The humble person has to be able to manage emotions well, anger, bitterness, impatience, and defeatism all have to be mastered and that takes time and effort.

How would you describe yourself, humble or proud?

Do you have difficulty with pride?

Do you practice humility?

make a difference today

The “Indispensable Man” by Saxon White Kessinger from John Maxwell’s book Talent is Never enough.


Sometime when you feel important;

    Sometime when your ego’s in bloom

Sometime when you take it for granted

  You’re the best qualified in the room,


Sometime when you feel that your going

   Would leave an unfillable hole,

Just follow these simple instructions

  And see how they humble your soul;

Take a bucket and fill it with water,

  Put your hand in it up to the wrist,

Pull it out and the hole that’s remaining

   Is a measure of how you’ll be missed.


You can splash all you wish when you enter,

   You may stir up the water galore,

But stop and you’ll find that in no time

   It looks quite the same as before.


The moral of this quaint example

  Is do just the best you can,

Be proud of yourself but remember, 

  There is no indispensable man.



We can make a difference in the world while we are there.  The moment we leave someone else will fill the gap.   It doesn’t mean that while we are there that what we do doesn’t matter, it does.  It just means that as time goes by others can pick up where you left off and continue.  Make the difference that you can today.

foundation of character

“While your circumstances are beyond your control, your character is not.” 
John Maxwell


Helen Keller said, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet.  Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”


What is character made of?


It is more than just values.   Character is living your values with sincerity.     Sincerity is derived from the Latin sincerus meaning clean, pure, sound.  

Values that are expressed and lived out in a pure manner demonstrate your character.     Values are often associated with a positive moral ethic, truth, honesty, humility, kindness, and patience to yourself and with others.    The values that you live determine your character. 

the coach with heart

There are moments where words can not express and pictures can not show the depth of an experience.  A little over a week ago I was in Guatemala on a Compassion International Sponsor trip.   We sponsor a child in Guatemala and it was a chance to take a glimpse of a part of the world that is not often seen by people living in the US.

It was a chance to touch poverty with our hands, to see it, to hear it, to taste it and then to see how children are being freed from poverty.  

Guatemala has a lot of beauty and it also has a lot of cruel beauty.  Streams and rivers become waste dumps, the pores are filled with plastic refuse.   Garbage  is burned next to the roads.  Dogs with skin taught against the ribs pick through the smoldering remains.   Corrugated steel, rusted, bent form structures in which people gather around a smoky pit of fire to make a meal.    Floors of dark brown dirt  greet the feet of the urban visitor to one of these dwellings.

 dsc01804The children we were able to visit brought their best smiles and their expression of joy.  These children with few material things have s omething American children have lost in the midst of much. 

These children beam with joy even as they struggle in so many different ways.   Given a large quantity of encouragement and hope these same children hold the keys to a future that is free of poverty.


Children who live in poverty and who are given a chance … can change their future.  They live with courage and they live for the future.  They give freely with what they have – the love in their hearts.

The world can be transformed when you reach out a touch a child who lives in a nation where their lives do not matter.

Ideas on creativity

Once in a while you can find things that cause you to change the way you look at things.   With an open mind you can become attracted to new ideas and new ways of thinking about a problem.  That would be the humility of learning – willing and able to learn without the need to reject the premise of the argument.

This link to a video clip tells a compelling story, about spirituality, about our best efforts and perhaps even more.  Elizabeth Gilbert is a writer and she is telling her story about looking at the world of what is possible.   Looking at what is yet to come which can be better than what has happened in the past.   Our future presents to us the opportunity to do better.


This video clip link is from TED 2009.  I think you’ll find it worthwhile to listen to.

Integrity – why is it so difficult?

A critical leadership trait is integrity.   The word integrity comes from the Latin ‘Integritas’ which meant soundness.    Going back in history to the height of the Roman armies the story goes that the soldiers would put on their leather armor and then would strike with their fist shouting ‘Integritas’ when they did.  The sound of good solid leather was filled with integrity.   Overtime the ritual became less important and as a result the Roman Army lost their integrity (‘Integritas’) – their soundness and began to lose their battles.

Leaders in today’s world also have to be filled with sound principles, sound action, sound reasoning and morally correct reasoning.  Leaders need to be filled with integrity.   The difficult today as it was with the Roman Army maintaining integrity is difficult when forces all around the leader attempt to reduce or remove integrity.   When personal gain is at stake we too often seen leaders crumble and their integrity melt.  As Lord Acton once said, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” 

Leaders need to remain humble even as their power (assumed or otherwise) rises to ensure that their integrity is not compromised, once lost it is difficult to regain.




The humblest hour

“the life of every man

Is a diary in which

He means to

Write one story

And writes another;

And his humblest hour

Is when he compares

The volume as it is

With what he hoped

To make it.”

J.M. Barrie

Humility in context

How is humility expressed in the context of modern communication methods?

Certainly the new media for communication including social networking venues removes some of the nuances that used to be critical for communicating effectively. If the statistics are correct a large majority of communication is non-verbal communication and that means for many of use communicating via electronic pathways limits the most significant element of communication.

Humility though is more than just body language. Humility is a way of being that can be expressed in written language and more so as the result of actions that are generated when interacting with others. It could be the words that are used and those could be words that are an expression of love, compassion, other-centeredness, caring and empathy. Humility can be sensed in the way a sentence is written and how the words are chosen.

Humility ultimately is an expression of love.

“Doing nothing for others is the undoing of one’s self. We must be purposely kind and generous, or we miss the best part of existence. The heart that goes out of itself gets large and full of joy. This is the great secret of the inner life. We do ourselves the most good doing something for others.” Horace Mann

What is humility?

I think humility is an essential ingredient for both coaching and leadership. Humility might be described as thinking of yourself less not thinking less of yourself. Who do we usually put in front of others if not oneself?

What does the practice of humility look like?

Authenticity, transparency and genuineness are ingredients of humility.

Of course pride is the opposite of humility. Pride creeps into our everyday existence.

Arthur Ashe the former tennis great said, “True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever the cost.”