Consider the White House. Never have so many arrogant, egocentric and narcissistic personalities gathered under one tent. In a world where some of our most admired and inspirational leaders have also been the most humble (see: Abraham Lincoln), we are experiencing a scorching drought of humility.
The White House is ground zero for galloping egocentricity, but the hero worship of brash, selfish achievers didn’t begin there. We are a culture that celebrates the wolves of Wall Street and other sports and entertainment predators who claw their way to the top and then shout their success from the high ground — “Me, me, me! Look at me!” Why is the show “Billions” so popular? Why do thousands throng to Trump rallies? Why do we even know who the Kardashians are? Winning at any cost still gets points for winning.
Humility, defined as a sense of modesty and self-effacement, is a necessary but disappearing value. Mahatma Gandhi said, “Carefully watch your thoughts, for they become your words. Manage and watch your words, for they will become your actions. Consider and judge your actions, for they have become your habits. Acknowledge and watch your habits, for they shall become your values. Understand and embrace your values, for they become your destiny.”
Does anyone in the Trump White House consider and discuss the values they want to impart to the country and the world?
From the president’s bragging, lying and chest-thumping, to the $51,000 jacket Melania wore to Rome, to Ivanka taking a seat at the G20 table, to Jared’s belief that he has the knowledge and experience to conduct Middle East negotiations (not to mention overhaul the entire government), to the late Scaramucci’s abusive rants, to Trump throwing presidential power around like a Frisbee, the top staffers at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. evince no trace of humility or self-awareness or compassion. They demonstrate no interest in helping to lift up millions of Americans who need better food, housing and health care. It’s all about exploiting the misery of others to get the votes to solidify their power.
Jack Zenger, a contributor to Forbes magazine, wrote a piece about the difference between humble and egocentric leaders, summarizing research he had published in the Harvard Business Review. He wrote of the study, “Surprisingly, the most effective leaders consistently under-rated themselves. The more they underestimated their abilities, the more effective they were perceived to be as leaders. We assume this is caused by a combination of humility, high personal standards and a continual striving to be better.” He went on to say that having an illusion of personal superiority is damaging. Managers who had the highest sense of superiority had the most “fatal flaws” when it came to doing their jobs.
Trump keeps booking election-like rallies where his true believers chant his name and scream “Lock her up!” when he mentions the opponent he defeated seven months ago. This is a symptom of profound neediness, like a hamster that keeps pressing the lever that will give him food.
According to the American Psychological Association, humility creates a sense of “we-ness” in relationships. Being humble means being able to form cooperative alliances — a crucial component in strengthening connections, according to a Huffington Post story. “Of any communal endeavor, whether it’s a business, a family or an athletic team, humility can make those relationships better,” the article states.
It goes on to say that people can learn humility by focusing energy on others, accepting outcomes with grace, giving credit to others and bringing patience to any interpersonal process.
The Dalai Lama said of humility, “Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” (See: transgender tweets, immigration laws and health care changes). He went on, “Whether a person practices religion or not, the spiritual qualities of love and compassion, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, humility and so on are indispensable.”
Weighing in on the id, or anti-humility force, in human psychology, Sigmund Freud described it as the personality component made up of unconscious psychic energy that works to satisfy basic urges, needs and desires. The id operates based on the pleasure principle, which demands immediate gratification of needs. Hello, Donald Trump. What could be more id-ish than compulsively tweeting one’s uncensored thoughts out into the world?
The Trump administration offers the public a daily buffet of infighting, lying, risky foreign policy and mean-spirited attacks on the weakest among us. If you’re looking for humble pie on the White House menu, they 86ed that some time ago.
Copyright © 2017 Randi Kreiss. Randi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.