June 2007 Character Quality -- Humility
the following editorial article was written by Gloria Cooper for publication in The Paris News --
“Mr. Watson, come here, I want you.”  While the words of the famous inventor, Alexander
Graham Bell, are immortal, the man to whom he spoke is not as well known.  In fact, most of us
only recognize him as Mr. Bell’s assistant.  Actually, Bell had hired Thomas Watson because of
his keen mind and expertise with electricity and mechanical skills.  Watson was an invaluable
member to Bell’s team.  Regardless of his personal importance, however, Watson stayed out of
the public eye when their invention became a world-wide success.  He only considered himself a
very fortunate assistant to an extraordinary man – more than happy to see him receive the

This is the attitude of humility.  Thomas Watson’s goal was to accomplish his task so others
would reap the benefits, he would get the satisfaction of doing his best, and his superior would
receive the glory.  Humility is acknowledging that personal achievement results from the
investments of others in our lives.  Humility is a mindset – not outward behavior.   In every
accomplishment or promotion that we attain, there are always those who have contributed to our
success.  Therefore, while we might put all our strength into a project, those who helped us also
deserve the credit for causing us to succeed.   

Humility is not thinking less about our own importance, nor is it comparing our successes with
those of greater success – a demoralizing practice.  Rather, it is simply maintaining an attitude
of graciousness and giving honor to whom honor is due.  

A humble person builds strong relationships with those around him.  He listens to others and
discovers what is important to them.  He does not worry about maintaining his status; he seeks
to build esteem in their lives.  Like meekness, humility is physical or mental strength under
control.  When we need it, it serves with the greatest efficiency.  Here are five ways for us to use
our talents in a humble yet effective way.

First, we need to gain a proper perspective of people and events.  Whenever we succeed, we
should share the credit with those who contributed along the way.  By building teamwork
between others and ourselves, we accomplish our goals in an excellent and efficient manner.  
One person working alone may or may not finish the job, but three or four working with one mind
will completely terminate the work.  We also need to seek the advice and accept the criticism of
parents, co-workers, teachers, and friends – even when we think there is nothing more to learn
on a subject.  We should maintain a teachable spirit regardless of who we are.  Finally, the
epitome of a humble person is the picture of a servant.  In every job, there are undesirable
tasks.  We should be the ones to take on the lowly jobs without thought for personal reputation
or self-esteem.  

Humility flowing from the heart will result in great benefits.  We gain experience from learning
opportunities, and experience broadens our insight.  When we focus solely on finishing the task
at hand and disregard who gets noticed, we cut down on much wasted time and mental energy.  
Others will see our efforts as we work as a team.  We may never be recognized, but we will know
that we have done our best.
Portions of this article have been adapted from Character First! material.  For more information about the
Character First! program and resources contact:  Character Training Institute, 520 W. Main Street, Oklahoma
City, OK  73102,  (405) 815-0001. Visit the Character Council of Red River Valley at
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