Talent is God given; be humble. Fame is man-given; be grateful. Conceit is self-given; be careful. – John Wooden
What does that mean?
This is a caution against ego, from a coach who knew a few players who had one.
It starts by saying that whatever talents you may have, they are a gift. It asks you to be humble and remember that you did nothing to deserve or earn your natural talents.
It continues to say that fame is given to you by your fellow humans, and implies that they can take it away just as easily. Be grateful for what they give you, and give them no reason to take it back.
It ends with a warning for those who have trouble understanding or abiding by the first parts: if you let your ego get to you, you will need to be very careful. Too many people get to that point and then implode. Be warned.
Why is humility and gratefulness important?
Without these two qualities, it is easy for the ego to creep up. And coming up right behind that is conceit. And at some point in time, no amount of talent or fame can withstand the revolting qualities which the ego and conceit will bring with them.
However, humility and gratefulness allow one to keep the ego in check, because a little ego is a good thing. Just be sure to keep it the proper place and proportion. What is that? It will vary for each person, and with the season of their lives.
The root word of humility, humble, as used in this quote is defined at TheFreeDictionary.com as “not proud or arrogant; modest” and “courteously respectful.” With humility, how can be full of conceit? Modesty is the opposite of the conceit mentioned in the quote.
The word grateful is defined as “Appreciative of benefits received; thankful” and “Expressing gratitude.” With a heart full of gratitude, where can conceit find a place to take root? Like modesty, gratefulness simply leaves no room for conceit. And I believe that is a good thing.
Where can I apply this in my life?
Unless you have already managed to progress beyond conceit in all forms, you may have a place in your life you could make use of this quote. If you have managed to progress beyond conceit, please share your methods and ideas in the comments section. I know I’d love to hear about your success. And maybe steal a step or two!
The rest of us will likely have somewhere where we can be a little over confident, a little full of ourselves, or even a little harsh. As was mentioned before, the antidote for these impulses is to be humble and grateful. If we can keep sight of this, we can keep conceit at bay.
But to do it that way requires conscious competence. That is we need to notice we’re doing something before we can correct it. What if you don’t notice? That’s when you have a learning experience, right? But it’s the best place to start.
Take a moment and consider when you might have a tendency, however rarely it may be, to show a little conceit. I know it doesn’t happen often, you may even have difficulty remembering an occasion. But try really hard. It would probably be related to something at which you excel, or know a lot about.
For me, it’s the story of how I met my present wife. I was a bit arrogant and conceited about my (theoretically) encyclopedic knowledge of Star Trek trivia. And she overheard me, and corrected me. And she was right, and I was wrong. But I tried to be gracious and humble in being corrected. And that was how it started.
By starting with situations you recognize as potential starting points for a little conceit to creep into your life, you can be better on your guard. By noticing and correcting yourself, you can begin to build habits. Small at first, the changes can become more noticeable with practice.
Eventually, you may find yourself checking yourself before you even get to the point of appearing conceited. At that point, your habits have become part of you, and you have become unconsciously competent, meaning you do the right thing without even having to think about it.
What can you do to remind yourself to be humble and grateful each day? Could you write something meaningful to yourself as a reminder and tape it to a mirror or the refrigerator? Little reminders to yourself can help adjust your attitude even before the day gets started. And I believe that is a good thing.
From: Twitter, @LV_Sports
confirmed at : http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/johnwooden386606.html (unsourced according to http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Talk:John_Wooden, halfway down)
Photo by Duncan Hull