The Virtue of Humility
I was recently invited to give a speech where the organizers of the event asked me to think of the virtues of St. Joseph in my message. The first virtue that immediately came to mind was HUMILITY. As I was internalizing this, I was thinking of the way I am so often introduced as a speaker for events. Time and again, it’s a great honor to be recognized for my accomplishments as a business leader, author, speaker and more. But what would my humble bio look like if I was introduced for my shortcomings that equally made me who I am today?
Nobody is perfect. Life is a journey. We hear these things all the time. However, what if we were transparent with specifics that could make us more approachable, relatable, imperfect and equally admired for what we have been able to overcome as for what we have achieved?
My humble look at myself is ripe with imperfections. I don’t want to shy away from any of them when staring at myself in the mirror. And I certainly should not hide from them when standing at a podium in a spotlight. In that moment of attention, I am no more important than any other individual out there. And humility is a wonderful path toward reaching that understanding.
Here is what I see and know that I am humbly focused on sharing with you...
I struggled with weight since elementary school. I was the chubby one in my family. One of my sisters even called me out about it. It made becoming a cheerleader in high school that much more special when I was active and took better care of myself. Bad habits were replaced with good habits and I continue to focus on my mind, body and spirit in a much healthier way to this very day.
When I was young, I did so poorly on the SAT that I had to beg the president of Baylor University to let me attend summer school. Then, after getting that chance, I never graduated from college. That is perhaps why I cherish my Alumnus-by-Choice honor from Baylor, recognizing me decades later for my contributions and guest lectures to future leaders in-the-making. A short time after that, it was life-changing to learn that my book Values, Inc. was being discussed in the business school on topics involving business ethics.
I failed my real estate exam twice. Yet, I later represented my father in large real estate deals with his utmost confidence in me. Today, I consider my real estate knowledge an incredible asset for our larger family’s real estate investments as well my immediate family’s multiple homes, a ranch and the ultimate lesson that a failing test score doesn’t mean a failed life.
I got pregnant before I got married. That makes my life with Mike Owens and the strong marriage that we have enjoyed for 31 years the real definition of love. We have an incredible family and today are blessed with a daughter, a son, both of their wonderful spouses and three beautiful grandchildren as a result.
I got rejected by leading franchisees in my organization when I was invited to be the CEO. I responded by asking them for time to prove myself. If they still felt I was not the right person for the job, I would step aside. Not only did I ultimately win their support, but I worked with a great leadership team to champion the business to new heights. Then I went on to serve as the Chairwoman of the International Franchise Association in Washington D.C. and support our industry at-large.
Our struggles should not be brushed aside as if they never existed. Living in quiet shame is wrong and unjustified. Instead, I believe that our flaws make us human. And through the gift of humility we can create a bridge to move forward. When we humbly accept our true selves at every step in our journey, we are better for it. With that acceptance and our ability to persevere, we also exemplify great possibilities in growth, lifelong learning, and achievement that is so much more than just what you see.
I challenge everyone to look past your job titles and awards that so often represent your achievements to others. Instead, look at your humble bio and all that you have experienced (good and bad) to make you who you are today. Your humility may lead to a newfound appreciation of yourself and reveal a life exponentially more fulfilling.
“I’m truly humbled by the gift of these grandchildren.”