There’s much focus today on building kids’ self esteem, and although that is very important, there’s one trait that could get left in the dust in the midst of all the confidence building. And that’s the virtue of humility.
I’ve been reading a book by John Maxwell called Sometimes You Win–Sometimes You Learn and he says that “the good become the very best due to humility.”
He uses the example of legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, who won every award and received every accolade in his profession. He was the first person named to the Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach.
But Wooden had to learn some humility before he was to really excel in his sport. Because he was so good as an athlete, he was headed towards being a prideful and unteachable athlete until one day, his coach decided to teach him a lesson in humility.
One afternoon, Wooden forgot his uniform and did not want to run the mile or so back to his farm to get it before the basketball game. He figured that since he was the best player on the team, there was no way the coach was going to bench him. However, he was wrong.
When it came clear that I would not be allowed to play without the uniform, I talked a teammate into going home to fetch it for me. After all, I was the star, right? Why shouldn’t I be allowed to ask a favor or two from the benchwarmers? With that attitude, it’s no wonder that the game started without me in it. When I tried to reason with Coach, pleading with him to let me play because it was clear we were outmatched with our new starting lineup, he told me very simply, “Johnny, there are some things more important than winning.”
As a boy of 13, Wooden had all the qualities that many arrogant leaders have. He thought he was better than others and that he didn’t have to obey the same rules as others. But fortunately, he had a coach who believed that learning humility was more important than winning.
It’s important for your child to learn humility because as Maxwell says, “Humility is foundational to all people who learn from their wins and losses. It is a key to success at the highest level.”
You may say you can name a dozen people who’ve achieved big things with arrogant attitudes, but think about what might they might have achieved if they’d been humble enough to admit they still needed to learn?
Humility is important for your kids to learn because it opens the door for them to keep learning and to even higher levels of achievement. Don’t neglect this virtue as you seek to build your kids up.
Janis B. Meredith, sports mom and coach’s wife, writes a sports parenting blog called JBM Thinks. She authored the Sports Parenting Survival Guide Series and has recently launched a podcasting series for sports parents.You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.