Tag Archive: humility

I’ve had the privilege of hearing Jerry Howarth call Blue Jays baseball games on the radio for decades. As he’s grown older (and wiser), something has struck me with who he’s becoming for the Jays: the informal father figure. While he’s not on the Jays staff as a coach, he does command respect from many of the players. He’s honest with his assessments and yet gentle. He demonstrates a desire for those around him to strive for their best, and he cheers for them to be at their best. Like a father, he challenges when he needs to, and demonstrates his care for the individual.

Earlier today, on the Jeff Blair show, Jerry shared a moment he had with Jose Bautista (listen here). Jerry was addressing Jose’s clubhouse presence and on-field antics (like arguing with the umpires) last season. Howarth shared how he had a moment with Bautista, told him his actions were hurting the team, and left it at that. I don’t know how Bautista reacted nor his opinion of that situation. But since Jose’s started to be a better example, Howarth was the first to stand up and support Jose’s change in attitude.

If you see a picture of Howarth, he’s not really a physically intimidating man. What I sense is someone who demonstrates his genuine kindness to others, showing the dignity he believes they deserve. Not for his own sake, but because of his exemplary career as a broadcaster and a man of baseball, others give him the respect he’s earned. When he speaks, others listen. Yet he seems to be a man of humility, not drawing attention to himself but deflecting it back to the players and others he supports.

Jerry Howarth is an example of how to carry yourself with humility, dignifying those around him and earning their respect.


The lure of the consultant

After some time in the “field”, many people want to be consultants. They may not use that word, but basically, they want to share their “expertise” with others. Some have that expertise; many really don’t (but think they do). What’s the allure of the “consultant”? I think there’s two things.

The Celebrity

To be the outside voice sharing information has a certain “celebrity” to it. Whether as a speaker, a consultant, adviser, etc, people are looking to that person to share that nugget of wisdom that will change their lives. And that audience, many times, treat them like a celebrity. Let’s face it, there’s an attraction to that. At some level, we all get a kick out of being “known/famous”.

No Ownership

The beauty of being a consultant is you have no ownership over change. The consultant comes in, gives his/her advice and the audience is free to take it or leave it. Thus, there is no “burden” to follow through. They move on to the next audience.

Being the consultant is some people’s calling, but isn’t for everyone (or even the majority). Sure, we all share what we know with others around us. But for many of us, it’s not what we’ll ever be paid for. And if we do, we need to check out motives and to approach it with humility because the lure of the “consultant” could drag us into an egotistical, self-cented and distorted sense of reality within the black hole of our arrogance.

Collaboration is a big buzzword nowadays. It’s all about how we can “work together, pooling our combined resources into some bigger than the individual parties” (sounds very baptistic to me).

Honestly, it’s something I struggle with. It seems I have two “default” settings in my brain:
– expert: I come as one with “expertise” in whatever field of discussion.
– empty: I have nothing to contribute and just absorb in a conversation.

Collaboration is that middle ground. It’s in between expert and empty where we all have a place on this continuum. But it’s trying to find where I stand on that continuum so I get a sense of how much I contribute. Too often, I’ve seen people who lean more towards “expert” in a discussion where really, what they contribute has little to no significance. But there are times when I see people who think they’re empty but really have valuable insights to offer. (Perhaps that speaks more towards a person’s sense of humility vs. arrogance.)

What I struggle with is when I can significantly contribute but not go towards “expert” when really I’m not. Do I assume I have an expertise in something in which people are looking for insights from me? (By the way, I don’t the premise that everyone’s opinion is equal. Some people’s opinions in specific topics carry far more weight than others; those are the ones I’m looking for.) There are other times when I’m expected to be the “expert” in a discussion when the participants already know just as much as I do (if not more). In those moments, it’s a matter of drawing those insights out (that’s where coaching comes in i.e. I don’t come as an expert in a field, but I work at drawing out those insights, even for my own learning).

Collaboration can sometimes be tricky in navigating. I know I still have a lot to learn in doing it well. But there is much learning that can take place when we’re willing to give and take not based on what we think we can offer, but with what we really have.

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