In his well-researched book From Good to Great, Jim Collins studied successful organizations over two centuries and revealed startling facts. All great leaders who have made a positive impact on their organizations in particular and human society in general had a fantastic blend of strong will and deep humility.
How can you know if you are cultivating humility? Besides your willingness to learn and accept your shortcomings, how you react to success reveals your humility. When you are down and defeated, you need strong determination to rise. But if you succeed, you need humility to digest it and stay grounded.
Collins reveals that great men and women are separated from the mediocre through the mirror and glass paradigms.
When you win the desired tournament or get the coveted project or attain your goals, do you see the mirror or the glass? A person with strong character and humility would see the glass. That is, he’ll recognize many factors outside of him, and other people outside the glass who helped him achieve his success. He’s humbled in his victory, and remains ever grateful. Still, most people falter to the swaying pleasures of worldly glory by seeing the mirror during success. They think they are wonderful and have done a great job; pride infiltrates their consciousness and before they realize it, they have lost.
Conversely, when things go wrong or a team fails, a leader of substance would immediately see the mirror. He’d take responsibility for the loss, and would take an honest inventory of his own motivations and decisions. Yet, most succumb to the pitfall of seeing through the glass during failures. They blame all others and refuse to see their own faults, leave alone learn and grow from it.
A winner and a loser both carry the glass and the mirror with them. However, a person with true humility would use the glass during success and the mirror when he fails.