Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Deceit of Pride

Pride is deceitful. A telling old Jewish joke shows the changing face of pride. In the village synagogue, during the High Holidays, the rabbi prostrates himself on the floor, saying, "God, before You I am nothing." Immediately the richest man in town prostrates himself on the floor, saying, "God, before You I am nothing." Right after that the town beggar prostrates himself on the floor, saying, "God, before You I am nothing." The rich man whispers to the rabbi,"Look who thinks he's nothing."

Dr. Paul Wong, Professor at Western Trinity University proposes the following practices in the pursuit of humilty, practices that I think translates very well to organizational leadership behavior:

* Acknowledging our wrong doing

* Receiving correction and feedback graciously

* Refraining from criticizing others

* Forgiving others who have wronged us

* Apologizing to others who have been wronged by us

* Enduring unfair treatments with patience and a forgiving spirit

* Thinking and speaking about the good things of other people

* Rejoicing over other people's success

* Counting our blessings for everything, good and bad

* Seeking opportunities to serve others

* Willing to remain anonymous in helping others

* Showing gratitude for our successes

* Giving due credit to others for our successes

* Treating success as a responsibility to do more for others

* Willing to learn from our failures

* Assuming responsibility for our failures

* Accepting our limitations and circumstances

* Accepting social reality of discrimination and prejudice

* Treating all people with respect regardless of their social status

* Enjoying the lowly status of being an outsider and a nobody

Hellen Keller, the great teacher, once declared: "I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble. The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker. "

Kendell Geers 2006. Seven Deadly Sins (Pride). Ultra-violet Neon Sculpture. Stephen Friedman Gallery, London.

Further Reading:
Here is a link to Professor Wong's essay on humility: