Humility

I am excited about participating in my first Slice of Life Writing Challenge. This is a writing challenge by twowritingteachers.wordpress.com in which bloggers are challenged to write about a slice of their day or a topic that inspired them each day in March. I am looking forward to getting to know other bloggers as I will also comment on at least three other bloggers’ posts to their blogs that will be linked to the daily Slice of Life page at twowritingteachers.wordpress.com.

The grocery store Publix just made its debut in N.C. this week. I went to see it for myself today. I circled up and down the rows of cars in the parking lot being unsuccessful in finding a space to park for about five minutes. Finally, I noticed a customer who was getting help with her groceries by a Publix employee who was putting her groceries in her trunk. I waited for approximately three minutes to be able to turn right and pull into her spot when she left.  Anyone could see that my signal was on and I was positioned to get her spot. No sooner had she left when a car sped the wrong way down my row coming toward me and turned left into the vacant spot.  The driver’s wife or woman passenger in the passenger’s seat was mouthing “I’m so sorry” over and over through the window to me.  I don’t know what happened during the next minute because I was in a state of shock that the guy would do this.  I just sat with my right turn signal on with the clicking signal sound throbbing in my mind.  All I could think was, “How could someone barrel down the wrong way of the parking lot then suddenly turn left into the parking spot that I had waited for?”  Time stood still as I waited.  I thought, “This guy will have to walk by me to get into the store if I stay here, but I am not one who enjoys conflict.” I quickly concluded that it would not be worth it to have any contact with the driver so I was about to drive away. Unexpectedly, I saw the driver’s white back up lights go on. My mind raced with thoughts. Could it be that the driver is going to back out? But what if he doesn’t back out?  He could be mean and say hateful words.  We’ll, I almost drove away.  About that time, the car backed out and drove away.  I pulled into the spot relieved that there was no uncomfortable face to face contact.  My husband had witnessed this entire event while sitting behind me in his vehicle.  I looked in my rearview mirror as he drove past me and he grinned while holding up his thumb as a “Thumbs Up” signal.

This moment made me stop and think about why the guy chose to back out.  I have decided that he had the ability to humble himself and admit that he was wrong.  Maybe his passenger threw a fit and he didn’t want to listen to her complain so he did it for her, or maybe, just maybe, he voluntarily showed humility.

I read an article in the NY Times this past week about how companies want their workers to have soft skills such as humility, leadership and adaptability while also being willing to learn and relearn.  The article was based on an interview that had been done with a Google representative, but applies to companies who need people not just based on their grades, but also on their people skills. The article mentioned that in some cases, people who have rarely failed and gotten jobs based on their GPA’s being off the charts can have a hard time with humility.  It is important to show leadership and state your opinion in your company or school, but it is a wise person who can step back and allow other opinions to be heard.  Even if your opinion is not the prevailing one in a group discussion about a topic, you can be assured that having the ability to turn your back up lights on and gracefully submit to others will be noticed.  Having a grumpy stance or being filled with anger only pushes those with whom you work away.  People want to work with those who can rise to the occasion and suggest solutions but then also be adaptable to consider another’s point of view. Perhaps an idea that someone else has could be a better fit to solve a problem meaning that we can learn from our coworkers.

In school, I think that students need opportunities to work in small groups and navigate through the decision making process to allow them the space to be adaptable and show humility, if needed.  This might take the form of having them decide a topic to research or having them choose the type of project that they will create collaboratively.  I know that there are people who will let the leaders of the group do most of the work, but what if teachers formed groups with personalities that complimented each other?  At Google, their human resource department checks and rechecks the personality types based on how the interviewee responds to questions and scenarios.  Google forms teams of people who can work together and seems to position their workers for the best possible outcomes.

Our lessons should have an eye on the future knowing that the soft skills learned in school will allow our students to be college and career ready. Knowing how to get along with others is something we’ve all learned through experiences in life.  I just think it makes sense to promote collaboration through, for example, collaborative research done in a Shared Google Doc where group members have clearly defined roles.  After the research is done, the group could decide on a Storyboard for making an iMovie or other digital project.  As they map their documentary film out, they could rate themselves on soft skill usage such a humility, collaboration, perseverance, adaptability, etc.  Their ability to be successful will depend on how the group works together.

I know that when tensions flare, it is difficult to stay motivated to find acceptable solutions. I am so glad that the driver today made his choice in the Publix parking lot. I would have driven away if the driver had opened his door, but it just made me relieved when he made the right choice.  In our lives, we can view our ability to humble ourselves in our relationships as successful or not. I’d rather humble myself rather than being pushy and inflexible.

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5 thoughts on “Humility

  1. Thanks for sharing your slice Lisa.
    Your parking lot story made me smile as I have seen this happen many times (usually around Christmas). I have never heard of the person backing up and amending their wrong though!
    I agree we do need to focus on providing more opportunities for our students to develop their EQ (Emotional Intelligence) in schools. Daniel Goldman has written terrific literature on this topic. Being a HUGE fan of Google Apps for Education I couldn’t agree with you more on your ideas for using to Google to develop these critical skills in our students!

  2. Wow! Your parking lot story did not end up where I thought it was headed. It’s wonderful when you can see how much better those soft skills make the world first hand.
    You’re absolutely right that we need to teach these things in school as much as we need to teach reading and math (maybe more). At the risk of being self-promoting, I wanted to share these posters with you: http://qualityeducator.net/Accountable%20Talk%20Posters.pdf. I think they can help in teaching cooperative talk to students.
    Thanks for your slice.

  3. What a fantastic post! I’m a first time #SOL14 participant, too. Similar to you, I found myself writing about some of those intangible skills and qualities that our students need, but that our curriculums just don’t account for anymore. And these are the very skills that are hard to quantify that I feel our students need most – humility, empathy, grit, cooperation.

  4. I loved the writing you did about humility. It’s something we all need to have a bit more of!

    BTW: I remember Publix from when my grandmother lived in FL. It’s quite nice to have someone available to load the groceries in the car, isn’t it? (Though I do prefer to do that myself, it would be neat to have the option.)

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