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Humility, a Key to Obtaining Insight

Blog | Life and Leadership   |   September 22, 2014

by Joel Mok

I was born in the 1970s in a Chinese family in Singapore. My father ran his own business in electrical contracting firm and my mom was a seamstress sewing clothes at home until after my elder brother was born. My father, in spite of his humble beginnings, built his own business and sent my brother and me through university. He made sure that we had whatever we needed and more and is what most would describe as a self-made man.

One of the things that I found that I really appreciate about my dad is the way he shields us from being concerned about things that were beyond our ability to deal with. Sure there were lots of challenging issues with our family while I was growing up, not the least with finances and recessions and fickleness of business cycles. But I suspect I’ll never know most of what my dad had to go through because he doesn’t share that with us. He takes care of business and that, is the way you do it.

Recently, my father attended a program at ROHEI and it was on the topic of Emotional Intelligence. Within the two and a half day program was a component that required that him to interview someone about what he could do to further develop his emotional intelligence.

Imagine my surprise when he decided to ask me. “Why not? After all, you are one of the people that know me best,” he reasoned. So during one of his visits to our house on Saturdays, he took out his form and started asking me questions: Do you think these are areas I should work on? How does this affect you? What is one thing that I can do differently?

That day, my respect for my father increased even more. He may or may not have realized the significance of what he did that afternoon. And if it had been unnerving asking your adult child for honest feedback, he didn’t show it.

The thing that really struck me was that his attitude of humility. It not only allowed him to learn, but also inspired me to do the same. I think I’m more open to have those types of conversations with my children and colleagues now that I have experienced his openness. What a powerful attitude to have! Humility paves the way for those around us to provide insight that is so crucial for us to begin to make positive changes in ourselves.

Questions to ponder:
1. Has humility opened up doors for effective feedback and learning for you? What stops you from asking others for feedback?
2. What are other attitudes or perspectives that have really helped you grow as a person?

Drop me your thoughts at!

Joel is a Senior Consultant at ROHEI who harbors secret hopes of being a singer and a musician.

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