Posts Tagged ‘virtue’

The Economist carries a great article on Japan and the culture of rice growing, marked by rituals and the painstaking detail that goes into growing rice.  Rice is linked to centuries of family traditions and Japanese values.  Humility is a virtue the Japanese hold dear: “The heavier the head of rice, the deeper it bows”. In our rat race we have forgotten humility.

We all want to have the best car on the road, surge ahead first and show road rage when someone cuts us.  Woe befalls an aged driver moving at the right speed on a road.  We all will curse him or her and shake our heads in disgust and zoom past him showing how fast and agile we are.  Will we all be fast and agile forever?  We have forgotten sincere Thank you’s, Please’s.   What we have left is a soulless, meaningless grimace and a murmur at best.  And we all want more money, power and jewelry than our neighbor, don’t we?  And show it off as much as possible.

Hell broke loose when Barack Obama bowed too deeply to the Japanese premier.

The Japanese Bow

Hello, if one is richer and more powerful, it’s not bad if he bows deeper.  A nice story from the Arabian Nights talks of a king who returns a bow to a common man.  He wanted to be one up on the common man did not want anyone to think he was less humble. Truly, humility is a forgotten virtue.

The Genesis Chapter 2 says that the Lord created the cat as a balance to the dog.  Adam’s Guardian Angel complained to the Lord that Adam was getting too proud – “Lord, Adam has become filled with pride. He struts and preens like a peacock and he believes he is worthy of adoration. Dog has indeed taught him that he is loved, but no one has taught him humility.”  The Cat that Lord created would not obey Adam. And when Adam gazed into Cat’s eyes, he was reminded that he was not the supreme being. And Adam learned humility. God was pleased. And Adam was greatly improved. And Cat did not care one way or the other J  For God’s sake, why does it take a cat to teach man humility?

Lord Krishna’s childhood friend, a common and poor man called Sudama called upon him at his palatial well guarded mansion, after several years.  Guards would not believe this poor, ragged man was a friend of Krishna.

Krishna the king humbly welcomes poor friend Sudama

Krishna heard of this and ran and embraced his friend and eagerly ate his favorite puffed rice dish that Sudama’s wife had sent for him.  Krishna never forgot his poor friend and treated Sudama with utmost respect and humility though he was the rich king of Dwaraka.

Looking at today’s corporate world, makes you wonder – Do humility and faith have a place in business?  In MBA schools and in all of our training for interviews we are told to be aggressive, tout our accomplishments and blow our trumpet as hard as possible about our work and achievements.  Some wonderful insights on humility and its impact on companies are available in this MSNBC interview with the CEO of Greenleaf Center, Larry Spears. Empathy, humility and self-sacrifice, Larry Spears says, are the marks of a true servant-leader. According to Spears, recent examples include Jimmy Carter and South African religious leader Desmond Tutu. Spears also points to Martin Luther King, Jr., and Eleanor Roosevelt.  When partners, consultants and directors of McKinsey & Co. were asked how they elected Rajat Gupta as their CEO in 2004, McKinsey specified humility as a key criterion.

It would seem then, that the value of humility is not diminished in any way in personal life and business.  A simple test can show you how humble a person is.  Count the “I, me, mine” words from a person in any conversation and compare it with the “You, your, we” words used and you will know that someone much better.


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