A Lesson in Humility

I’ve written about a close friend on several occasions during the last 3 years. He lost his way since 1998 for a variety of reasons, most of that time living in NYC. Currently, he’s trying to climb back up the ladder of success in the Big Apple although his attitude and mindset are not in sync with reality, thus the climb will be extra strenuous.

His main problem is that he talks, sometimes incessantly about what he will do or wants to do, with money being at the core of his conversation, as if he is some hot-shot businessman. In addition, he dreams of making top money in finance yet fails to realize the hard work necessary for success in that arena – especially in today’s economic conditions. His words are not appealing to numerous friends and can be irritable to those who don’t know him.

Recently, I wrote him an email about a gentleman I met in the 1990’s who exemplifies humility. I thought my friend might be inspired by the way this man carries himself. I was inspired.

Parts of the email are below.

Happy Gswede Sunday!

Dear ____:

I was a member of a health club in NYC for 8 years. One of the moments I looked forward to the most was seeing Mr X (name not important) at the gym. He always had a smile, we talked basketball and he showed a genuine interest in me. I never knew much about him and that was okay.

After finding out what he did for a living, my opinion of him didn't change. He was the same likable guy.

Here's a moment when my respect for him grew even more:

The two of us were sitting with a group of people and I said (in a nice way), "great magazine cover I saw you on last week - and I mentioned the publication". He immediately played it down and was a bit embarrassed as those around him didn't know much about what he did. What a gentleman I thought - playing down his status. I felt a bit bad for saying it.

You may wonder what he did for a living. Well, he's one of the biggest finance guys in the USA. He's been on the cover of magazines and I have seen articles about him in the NY Times. At that time, he was making well north of 10 million a year! BUT he never talked about himself in any way or boasted. He was just a nice guy. The only reason I found out about his status was due to a friend telling me.

The Lesson:

Be humble about what you do and be likable.

You have all the tools for likability but you must use them. It's what made me and others like you in the first place. Most people won’t care about BIG deals you fantasize about, money you might make or women you desire, etc, etc. What most do care about are kindness, compassion and being genuine. You have it. USE IT.

BE HUMBLE, KIND, COMPASSIONATE, and GENUINE. Make it your mission in 2011.

Your friend,


A southern Sweden "Beach of Ice" in February - Gswede's son taking a break.


Anonymous said...

I read your ‘humility’ blog just now. I was reminded of my own reflections yesterday, after visiting a friend who ‘talked incessantly’ although not only about money, but still.

And it appeared to me that those people I know that speak a lot about money and related matters are mainly ‘poor’ people to whom money obviously means a lot

Anonymous said...

You should invite your friend over here(Sweden)to live for a while. It will give him perspective.