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Humility is Freedom

Updated: Apr 29, 2020

Humility it is said, is one of the most respectable and admirable traits that an athlete can possess. In fact, it is for anyone regardless of your background. We’ve all watched and observed professionals of the highest caliber both and off the field of play. Many times while we admire their performances we also observe their character and demeanour both during and away from the action. The athletes or administrators who talk about humility and act on it comprehensively, it sets a precedent for fostering good character. But there are varying views. "They don't pay nobody to be humble." NFL great Deion Sanders once said. That can be perceived to be that anyone in pursuit of success can be expected to act or behave in whatever way he or she finds fitting to them. In other words, ‘I’m here to win and my style should not matter, only the end result matters.”  Sport can be a school for the virtue of humility but given the culture surrounding not just sports but many other aspects of life in the world today, we aren’t really grasping it. Humility involves in a great deal, an awareness of and acceptance of our limits. And sometimes acknowledging that we depend on others shows humility. Athletes depends on coaches, backroom staff, family, friends and the same applies to leaders. 

Humility is exemplified and embodied in someone by a few ways including modesty - one who doesn’t flaunt their success but handles character gracefully. Modesty in a successful athlete is a trait easily picked up on and respected by many. Being able to lead  by example, lifting up those around them, being coachable whether it be in the workplace or on the court, are just some of the ways we can show humility. We are gladly seeing more of this during the current pandemic. A no-nonsense approach should not be mistaken for lacking humility. This can be misinterpreted easily by many of us in our day to day business. I remember during the 2006 Soca Warriors motorcade in Tobago, BBC correspondent, former Jamaican footballer Robbie Earle was persistent in grabbing Chris Birchall for an interview after head coach Leo Beenhakker had called the players in for dinner, declaring that the fun was over and there was no more time for media activities, In my role as press officer, it was my duty to hold off Earle and allow Birchall to disappear with his teammates on the head coach's instruction. Meantime, the other BBC assistant started to go on about me being arrogant simply because he wasn't getting his way. I think Earle, being a former player himself understood. Last year we bounced up in Miami and recalled the scenario with a few laughs. We’ve all been around arrogant as well as respectful individuals. Checking one’s ego is important. In an era of selfie sticks and social media we are more aware of ourselves than ever before. The concept of ‘self’ is constantly on the forefront our minds as we design our lives to reflect the pristine picture of how we want others to perceive us. In contrast, humble people don’t feel the need to paint a perfect picture of an “ideal life”. Also, not only successful ones or stars of the show can have a problem with being humble, the average guy, the under achiever can also be cocky or unable to speak with a tone of humility. 

New York Times Author David Brooks wrote that humility is tied to an important kind of freedom.“Humility is freedom from the need to prove you are superior all the time, but egotism is a ravenous hunger in a small space—self-concerned, competitive, and distinction-hungry.” Then there’s the different way of perceiving a lack of humility  Paris Saint-Germain set out to crush Borussia Dortmund's Champions League hopes and so they did after raging at the German team's social media response to winning the first leg, Presnel Kimpembe revealed. "They are great players, but I'm going to say it – they lost their humility," Kimpembe told reporters.It gave us this little rage. And it worked to our advantage."  Parents and coaches can do their part to help kids understand the importance of genuine humility, and treating all teammates and opponents with respect and appreciation. While it is unfortunate that some adult athletes engage in poor sportsmanship that can be seen in the media, we can help kids in those instances by talking about what they just saw and the impact of being a poor sportsman. Kids tend to pick up habits easier that turn out harder to break when they grow up.  Humble persons think of themselves less and can ensure they are able to take it a notch down so that there humble intentions are evident in their actions and dispositions. Humility pays and it costs very little.



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