A Lesson About Humility



I don’t want to discuss politics or partisanship or the details of the Alabama Senate race. That is not my area of expertise; I have my preferences, you have yours, and I cannot say what lessons there are to be had from that.

However, I have to address two totally unrelated yet deeply intertwined events that occurred over the past week. For those who are open-minded and want to learn about better ways to manage their own behaviors, a lesson awaits.

This morning, POTUS Tweeted (above) about yesterday’s Alabama election fail. I found it quite telling, as it reveals an incapacity to ever admit error.

Stop for a moment to consider what this means. It reflects a rigid inability to grow, to learn from mistakes, to improve.  There is no sort of self-reflection, contemplation, or honest self-assessment. Being incapable of recognizing one’s own fallibility, having an utter lack of humility — my upbringing taught me that no good can ever come of that.

It says a lot about a person. Ultimately, I suspect, this flaw will lay at the heart of his eventual undoing. When he crashes and burns — and that is becoming an increasing probability — it will be this moral failing that deserves the blame (or the credit).

At the same time, I am struck by the opposite traits in Bridgewater Associate‘s Ray Dalio. As I detailed on Monday, he took a professional (and personal) financial disaster and used it as the leaping off point to completely re-engineer his philosophy in a work he calls “Principles.” He changed how he interacted with markets, evolved his approach to risk management, completely rethought how he was going to manage his firm. Pretty much, a total rethink of his approach to literally everything.

Its not like the other man did not have similar opportunities to rethink a flawed approach: Donald Trump’s businesses have failed with alarming regularity; he is on his third marriage; he never declared personal bankruptcy, but he sure came close. If you were looking for the proverbial “Come to Jesus” moment, he has had plenty.

Despite all of these obvious opportunities for personal growth, none occurred.

Of these two men, one started with nothing, learned from his errors along the way, and became wildly successful. The other inherited wealth, invested it poorly, somehow figured out how to lose money in NYC real estate and owning casinos — as close to 2 sure things as you can get.

If I were to pick a role model, I know who I would want to emulate.

How about you . . . ?

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