Although there are many thoughts on why some folks excel while others struggle, I do believe that, in most cases, the difference comes down to a sense of personal confidence balanced with authentic humility. It’s an “I’m comfortable enough in my own skin that I can step outside of myself to recognize and encourage others” sort of bearing. Some folks seem to be born with that ability, while others develop it along the way. Still others never quite get there at all.
Would this not be a great skill to teach our children early on? And, if we do, wouldn’t we have given them a life-long gift toward lasting happiness, endearing relationships and, yes … success in life’s ventures?
Loved and Respected
Few Americans were more loved and respected than the late Will Rogers (1879-1935). At the height of his popularity, he had the friendship and company of presidents and kings, yet he never claimed to be more than an Oklahoma cowboy that had been blessed with some outstanding opportunities along the way.
That was not gratuitous posturing; he meant it. Those opportunities, however, were available to him because he had the skills to claim them. Isn’t it much the same with all of us?
A Lesson in Humility
Will was quite proud of the fact that a portion of his blood came from the Cherokee Nation, something he was pleased to pass on to his children. The very essence of his character and his humility came to light when, at the highest point in his career, his sister, Maude Lane, passed away. Here’s what he said:
Some uninformed newspapers printed, ‘Mrs. C. L. Lane, sister of the famous comedian, Will Rogers …’ It’s the other way around. I am the brother of Mrs. C. L. Lane, the friend of humanity. And I want to tell you that, as I saw all these people pay tribute to her memory, it was the proudest moment of my life that I was her brother.
I believe it was Will’s ever-present quality of humility that enabled him to relate so freely and personally with others, be it faceto face or in his syndicated column that went out to hundreds of newspapers daily. His wife, Betty Blake Rogers, shared that, as Will traveled about the country, he enjoyed making stops at out-of-the-way country stores at lunch time. He would roam the store selecting milk, crackers, cheese and lunch meat, make his purchase, then eat his lunch right there in the store while visiting with the proprietor.
“He had a human, friendly way with strangers and a warm curiosity about what other people were doing and thinking,” Betty shared in her book, Will Rogers: His Wife’s Story.
True humility is a precious attribute, indeed.
It will always be in high demand.
*Reference: Rogers, Betty Blake. Will Rogers: His Wife’s Story. Indianapolis: Bobs- Merrill Co., 1941