Is James Bond humble? Does he know himself?
We think of James Bond as confident, but if he knows himself, he is humble. Why does it make sense that M would say, “Arrogance and self-awareness rarely go hand in hand”?
Humility helps us in so many ways. It reveals opportunity and opens us to learning. You can’t be a good leader if you’re not humble because if you’re not humble you can’t learn from those you lead. We can’t learn if we think we know it all. We can’t see opportunity if we think we have it all. Once you accept that learning and improvement are the finest fruits of difficulty, all burdens get lighter because then you don’t fight what you must endure. Here’s a humility gem—it’s impossible to insult a humble man. This is because when we get angry in the face of insult it’s because we resist hearing bad things about ourselves. We think we’re better than what we’re being called. If you insult a humble man, he will listen and think, “Yeah, that’s me at my worst.” Finally, if you know you’re capable of the worst, you can be truly brave. This is because you know you have the capacity for bad, so you tame it and place it at the service of good.
So how do we become humble? One way is to recognize that discipline, habit and taking small steps well teaches us about ourselves. Discipline yourself to make your bed each day. That’s a start. Disciplining yourself in any small thing gets you on the right path. If you are more ambitious in your humility (like that?), maybe the best two disciplines to tackle are journaling and prayer.
The Humble Discipline of Journaling
This sounds crazy, but it works. Set a daily writing goal of 500 words a day. I myself write 1,000 words a day. Here’s why it’s powerful: Journaling is structured thinking that stops time. If you incorporate a disciplined journaling habit into your daily routine, you supercharge the effects of journaling and get an insane Return on Investment. By writing, you stop time with your mind and impose your will on your emotions. Fear, for example. You tame fear when you write about it. For most of us, our two most powerful enemies are our own emotions and a distorted view of who we are, as men. To accelerate your own growth, master your emotions. Journaling helps you do that.
The Humble Discipline of Prayer.
Many men struggle with prayer. My suggestion? Think of it as spiritual combat. Men are built for combat. We each need an interior spiritual castle, and prayer builds that interior castle. Once it’s built, you can go on offense, but that’s a different discussion. Prayer is conversing with God, plain and simple, but, as with most things masculine, we benefit more if we put in place a structured, disciplined prayer life. There are nine levels of prayer, according to Teresa of Avila. The simplest two are vocal and meditative. Vocal prayer is talking to God. Meditative prayer is focusing intently on understanding God in your own life. Think of the two as speaking and listening, but with great intensity.
We hear a lot about meditation from business leaders, now, but they tend to focus on eastern meditation or secular meditation. While meditation of any kind is helpful because it disciplines our minds, Christian meditation is the most powerful I have encountered and I recommend it. I defy anyone to find a man more humble and heroic than Christ; He is the perfect model of authentic masculinity.