How are you so humble

Bonus humility - don't take yourself too seriously!

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“Modesty is an ornament, but you can go further without it,” says a proverb. But does modesty really pay less than self-expression? An inventory.

Egocentric peacocks cavort everywhere: business captains puff themselves up, politicians praise their own merits, soccer stars show off super luxury sports cars and mega villas, pop stars consider themselves the greatest. Self-promotion and marketing are booming.

But even those who are not in the limelight can indulge in excess: on “Black Friday”, “Cyber ​​Monday”, “X-mas Power Sale” ... consumption à gogo. Hollywood actor Walter Slezak (1902-83) once put it in a nutshell: “We buy things that we don't need to impress people we don't like”.

Are we furnishing the inner emptiness with meaningless and useless objects? Do the buying tranquilizers comfort us about the alienation from the essential that we experience in everyday life?

Even those who have the money can ask themselves: What do I need the latest HD flat screen, the most powerful cell phone, the luxury car? Doesn't it perhaps bring more satisfaction to spend time and energy on other things? Inner values? In other words: what can modesty do?

Career killer modesty

Thomas Biland, headhunter in Zurich, speaks plainly: “If you are modest, say yes: I am satisfied with what I have achieved. It works in private, but in a company you can be out of the window so quickly. " Anyone who wants to get to the top must have a need for self-expression.

A CEO who sets himself modest goals is in the wrong place in today's Anglo-Saxon business culture. Listed companies are interested in quarterly profits. "You will only find long-term thinking in family businesses, in owner-managed and -driven companies." A CEO only has the next year and the year after that in mind.

Too much room for machos?

"Modest people tend to be among the losers," says Thomas Biland, "because the others take up much more space with their elbows, the macho demeanor, the narcissistic demeanor and displace them."

The headhunter himself, however, gains great qualities from a quieter demeanor: “Someone can also be modest who appears confident but concentrates on the matter at hand. It is not about keeping the spotlight permanently on yourself as a person, but on the performance of the whole. "

Modesty as a counter-concept

"Those who are humble gain self-respect," says Caroline Schröder Field, pastor at Basel Munster. The term "modesty" is not easy to find in the Bible, she notes, even though this virtue occurs over and over there. For example, at the beginning of the Gospel of Luke, where "lowliness" is mentioned: God has chosen his "low" handmaid Mary to be the mother of his son.

Caroline Schröder Field also mentions the Advent song “Power up the door, the gate makes wide”, in which it is sung about that “meekness” is Jesus' “vehicle”: “The Messiah is a person who appears peaceful, humble, humble and friendly . " All these terms are facets of modesty and values ​​that are deeply anchored in Christian culture, says the evangelical pastor.

Does generation follow humility?

With the slogan “Do good and talk about it”, the good can just be accommodated “in an atmosphere of constant willingness to grow beyond oneself”. But modesty could become popular again, the evangelical reformed pastor hopes, thinking of the climate debate: The middle and older generation can be blamed for not having lived modestly enough and not sufficiently aware of their limits. At the same time, we should ask ourselves how the next generation can get a better view of these limits.

The quieter, more modest people should be noticed more, says Schroeder. "The Bible expresses the hope that God sees where people do not look, does not pay attention to the outside, but to the heart, where people do not listen, that is to the quiet tones." That is the core of the Christmas story: God observes the ignored and with it write a story that has lost none of its topicality.

Assess yourself correctly

"Modesty is one of the best virtues described in the Torah," explains Moshe Baumel, rabbi of the Basel Israelite community. Moses is praised as the most humble person who ever lived. «Before the Pharaoh he was the self-confident leader who wanted to get his people set free.

But in private he did not put himself above his sister Miriam and his brother Aaron. " And Moses never claimed to God that he was the right person for the mission to lead his people back to Israel. "He never pushed his way."

Modesty means assessing yourself correctly, making yourself neither too big nor too small. That someone knows exactly what is in their power and that he or she tries to carry out these tasks to the best of their knowledge and belief.

Inner satisfaction makes you happy

This virtue is enormously important for the life of believers, says Moshe Baumel. On the character ladder in the Talmud, humility takes the seventh of ten levels. It is difficult to get. «Because people are very self-centered. Breaking out of this individual and becoming humble takes a lot of work. "

Rabbi Baumel is convinced that those who are humble gain inner happiness. “You really enjoy respect in your lifetime, not because of money or other fleeting things. This inner satisfaction, which man can achieve with humility, makes him happy. And that's what we humans strive for: happiness and contentment. "

Consumption strike for ecological reasons

But for some, happiness also means consumption. This has consequences: "Those who consume a lot have a large ecological footprint," says the physicist Henrik Nordborg, professor at the Institute for Energy and Environmental Technology at the University of Applied Sciences in Rapperswil. He is therefore propagating a consumer strike. For ecological reasons.

If enough people were to participate, the economic system would have to change, he says. Refraining from consumption is a lever with which everyone can counteract global warming, immediately, not in ten or twenty years, when - perhaps - more environmentally friendly technologies will be ready for use. So material humility would be necessary so that humanity can continue to exist on this planet.

The human being as a consumption machine

The recently deceased Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison came up with the idea of ​​a consumer strike in Nordborg. In an interview, she said that in his speech to the nation after the 9/11 attacks, George W. Bush urged Americans to live as before and continue to consume. "He called on people to fulfill the only function they still have in society: the function of consumers."

They feared a recession if consumption collapsed. After all, consumption not only pollutes the environment, it also creates jobs and tax revenue, as well as wealth. “That is only partially true,” replies Nordborg, “the CO2 emissions are perfectly correlated with economic output. But not prosperity. Many studies show: From a certain level of prosperity we do not become happier through more consumption. "

If you have too much, you no longer appreciate the value

Prosperity also has to do with how society is organized and how income and wealth are distributed. Of course, a switch to a CO2-neutral economy would be «not without problems», admits Henrik Nordborg, «one would have to pursue a much more active distribution policy».

A radical rethinking is urgent, says Nordborg: "For the first time in history we have reached a level where we can all live happily, and we are putting that at risk through stupidity and greed."
Those who have too much do not appreciate the value of material things. If you fly somewhere four times a year, the trip is nothing special for you.

Better quality of life without consumption

Henrik Nordborg is certain that a consumer strike will also improve the quality of life. «We're running in a hamster wheel. We work a lot, are stressed and try to reward ourselves by consuming. " We would not have used the increase in productivity of the last half century to reduce working hours, "only to produce even more stuff that we want to consume".

Modesty instead of unrestrained consumption and the pursuit of more and more? Why not? Because there are other ways of doing business. Not only since the German researcher Wolfgang Sachs introduced the term “sufficiency”. In an essay in 1993 he broke this term down to “deceleration, unbundling, de-commercialization and clearing out” and advocated a “moderate economic style”.

Modesty pays off

Some cooperatives, for example, operate differently: housing cooperatives whose purpose is not limited to profit, but primarily to enable their members to live at relatively low cost. Or the machine rings that rent out or broker agricultural machines to farmers because many of them do not find it worthwhile to buy all the expensive equipment themselves.

The carpenter with four employees, the trust company with two branches and a total of 18 employees, the stonemason and his apprentice also operate differently. They work for their customer base and do not strive for expansion in order to even cope with the work and to be able to maintain personal contact with their clients.

Such modesty pays off. Because the image of such SMEs is positive. Large companies with super bonuses for top management, on the other hand, tend not to invite you to use their products and services.

Leaders should be more humble

Wolfgang Jenewein, Professor of Business Administration at the University of St. Gallen, who also coaches top managers and organizations from business and sport, such as Bundesliga clubs, knows that modesty can pay off: “In unstable times, as we experience today, managers are needed, allow the closeness, the humble and modest, hear the nuances. "

Managers should be concerned with the matter, not themselves. Wolfgang Jenewein actively advises his clients to be more modest: "Leadership lesson number one", he says and laughs: "Don't take yourself too goddam serious!"

Good leaders hold back

The more important the boss takes himself, the less feedback he gets. He gets lonely and the employees only nod off - even unsuitable or dubious ideas. That is dangerous in uncertain and complex times like these. “A good corrective is important: the employees, the family or your own parents,” Jenewein notes. "Good leaders who want to be successful in the future should ask more and say less, moderate more and teach less."

His experience shows that football coaches who don't take themselves too seriously are more successful in the long term. "The most successful people are usually the most modest," says Wolfgang Jenewein, citing Roger Federer as an example. He always stayed on the carpet.

What can modesty do?

Modesty does harm when someone wants to get to the top professionally. However, it promotes the exchange of ideas in the company and enables better solutions. It protects the environment and is beneficial to self-respect and inner happiness.

It provides a more relaxed life for those who disengage from the race for status and luxury. You gain intellectual freedom, space for thoughts, for creativity. Time for contacts, time to come to terms with yourself.

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