Success and Humility

So yesterday I interviewed a very high level entertainment executive. If I told you who he was, you would know him immediately. It was an easy ten minute phone interview. We had a pretty solid pre-determined message we needed to get out. I came in armed with good questions, and I just mainly needed to get him to speak his mind on the topic—his latest business venture. Unlike some I have interviewed, he knew how to talk to reporters and gave me exactly what I needed. No sweat.

But, as I listened to his answers, I couldn’t help but be struck by the lack of humility in his answers. At some level, this is understandable. He really is an amazing person and has really contributed a lot to the industry and to pop culture as a whole. So, in some respects I wasn’t lying when I stroked his ego between questions.

But, on the other hand, right now I am literally living in a church. Everyone around me is all about ministry, and loving others, giving to others…It’s all about other people. The slightest whiff of conceit would at best render one undesired, at worst, cause someone to be confronted and knocked down.

So, to be in this environment, to hear some of the self-serving comments coming from this highly accomplished businessman, I don’t quite know how to respond. He’s absolutely right when he said just the mention of his name will open industry doors. But, to actually say that?

But, then again, what’s wrong with saying that if it’s true?  And what’s the hypocrisy about “saying” versus knowing it in your heart?  And, really, isn’t that at some level knowing who you are? Should we always go around saying, “Oh, I’m not that big of a deal,” when we’re selling platinum records, and the crowds are shouting our name?

Of course, this never happens to most of us. But I use that as an extreme example of talent or success. As some point, we know who we are. We know we are successful. We know we are “good.” We know we are an expert at something. And what’s wrong with that? Where is the difference between that and conceit?

I don’t know. I think it’s an interesting question to wrestle with. Success and humility. Where to draw the line.


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