15: Humility

Humility is rewarded in human affairs. It is the way of the universe to fill the empty cup and to empty the full cup, just as valleys are ultimately filled by the erosion of great mountains. Regardless of your position in human society, humility is a deceptively powerful attribute that is often overlooked. If you are in a high position but remain humble, people will be drawn to you and causes that you espouse. If your position is lowly, humility will endear you to those of higher status. True humility is a virtue that benefits all and to which all should aspire.

The most successful people are those who know how to bring situations into balance by reducing those who are too inflated and adding to those who are too minimized. Such a person strives for balanced and stable relationships, not power over others. Humility is the virtue that allows you to perceive the balancing potential in every situation. Humble people are not prey to the illusions that spring from self-importance. If humility is difficult for you, make a conscious effort to develop a bit of self-effacing humor.

Changing Line Interpretations

Line 1 (bottom line)

Arrogant people create unnecessary complications for themselves when facing a major task. For one thing, concern about how they might be perceived or judged becomes an extra obstacle to the task’s completion. On the other hand, the unassuming attitude that goes along with humility supports the ability to have greater focus. While the conceited worry about appearances or the opinions of others, humble people concentrate on what needs to be done. Make no superior claims or conditions and you will meet no resistance.

Line 2

Profound humility is a gift to everyone. When a person is so sincere that his or her motives cannot be called into question, great good fortune is the reward.

Line 3

There are few sights sadder than someone who is too impressed by his or her own fame, beauty, or brilliance. Success for such people is usually short lived, because in order to sustain positive results, some degree of simple humanity is needed for the continued support of others. One of the noblest achievements is that of a person who, despite great success, retains his or her humility. Good fortune will stick with them over time.

Line 4

Beware of false modesty. Even humility, a most benevolent virtue, can be overdone. In your current situation, however, this is not a serious mistake, because of a responsibility you are willing to take on. People in humble positions sometimes use false modesty as an excuse for their weakness or indecisiveness. True humility does not mean having humble goals or a slack attitude regarding performance standards. Taking pride in your achievements and contributions is very different from the puffed-up pride of self-importance.

Line 5

The wise do not hesitate to take desperate measures when circumstances require them. When a responsible person takes a bold action, he or she is careful to see that the response is not coming from a sense of self-importance but is merely equal to the need. In tough situations, make sure objectivity and clarity of purpose support your position. And once strong action has won the day, the honorable warrior shrinks back into the crowd.

Line 6 (top line)

When mistakes are made and judgment blows in as suddenly as a north wind, there is a tendency to assign blame in all directions. Those who lack humility immediately raise their shields, thereby obscuring the truth from their own eyes. The weak take offense, and shrink away in doubt and self-pity. But the sincere and humble see the situation as a challenge to be met head-on—first by examining themselves inwardly to identify their role in creating the current situation, and then by having the courage to act forcefully—but fairly—to correct mistakes and clear the air.
Humility is the true mark of nobility and always bodes good fortune.