Water tinkles from below rocks as it flows into the open. Around the spring water seeps sideways into moss, before disappearing underground again. Reappearing with more fervour and conviction, it flows past two grass covered rocks. Tall grass grows where a tiny rock strewn stream forms. Water meanders between these small rocks, hesitates to form a little pond, and then tumbles over brown stone to spill downhill, gurgling on its way to the foot of the mountain and beyond.
Your Healing From Arrogance
When we are arrogant our vehemently expressed views spill into our relationships with family, friends and beyond. Do you know where vanity and arrogance come from? They come from the Me. The Me that says,
"I am more clever than she is, more intelligent than they are, more beautiful than that person, more alluring than she is, more wealthy than he is."
The Me that says,
"I Am Someone Special.".
This need to elevate ourselves above others is driven by a need to compensate for an unconscious belief that,
"I Am Not Someone Special At All – I Am Pathetic."
So I have to prove myself, drive myself. This arrogance can burn like a huge log fire at the centre of our being, causing us to choke on acrid smoke that fills our living space, blinding us from the source of our calling. With arrogance it is our sense of inferiority that is the real illness.
In its extreme form it can drive us to spend money we don't have on clothes we don't need, become addicted to work in the pursuit of wealth, and amass qualifications, rank and status, all with the aim of feeling important and impressing others.
Is there a way off this torturous treadmill of our own devising? If we turn within for guidance on how to conduct our life we are admitting the truth that we are not so smart after all. By admitting we need help then a measure of humility can enter our character.
I speak from experience. I was returning from Donegal after a weekend-break with a friend. On the long run home the conversation turned to the transport problems of developing countries. We both engaged in a lively debate on the topic. It went on for several hours.
On returning home I thought I would try putting some ideas down on paper. I began to sketch out proposals. As I worked I began to think that I really had the answer. I was thinking this way even though I had no experience of transport problems in these countries and did not know anyone who had.
On I pressed, becoming more and more convinced I was right. I was someone special after all. Wasn't I a great designer, with a list of talents too long to mention? If I couldn't solve this problem, who could?
I worked on in my office every evening until the small hours, for three months. I did not consult any research findings. I did not visit any of these countries. I did not canvass the opinions of experts in the field. The people affected by poor transport infrastructure were not contacted by me. I did none of the things that make for a well-balanced piece of research work. I did not need to do them because I was so convinced I was right. I was going to make a major contribution to solving the world's transport problems right there on my own in my office in Belfast.
Eventually the work was completed. It was very clever. My idea involved buying old second-hand trucks in the developed world, taking the back off them, and converting them into vehicles that could carry both passengers and small containers for mixed freight at the same time. This design would reduce freight and passenger transport costs because it would always be so full there would be little wasted space. The eventual report ran to over a hundred and fifty pages. I had even designed a system of bicycle transport to ship the small containers to remote villages along small tracks.
When it was completed I contacted the Centre for Appropriate Technology in London. They said they were always interested in new ideas to do with transport for developing countries and offered to see me. I also contacted the overseas transport division of the governments Transport Research Department.
I flew over to London the following week, my report carefully stored in my briefcase. It was valuable after all and I was being very careful not to lose it. I arrived on a hot August afternoon and found the Centre for Appropriate Technology without much difficulty. The organisation was in a small modest first floor office near the city centre. I was received graciously and was led into a private room. There I met two of the organization's experts on rural transport systems for developing countries.
I got out my report and began to propound at length about the merits of my ideas. The two experts listened in silence. They didn't stop me or ask any questions. After talking almost continuously for half an hour one of them stopped me and said,
"But Mr Huey, they don't need any new trucks to solve their transport problems. They have all the trucks they need. What they do need is a reduction in corruption. It's corruption and poor management that is the root cause of the transport problems in many developing countries."
They then pointed out the many ways in which my existing idea would not have worked anyway.
I was flabbergasted. I couldn't say another word. The entire edifice of my argument had disintegrated. I didn't know what to say so I thanked them, gathered up my papers and left. The next day I went on to the government Transport Research Department. It was the same story there. I left for home feeling rather stupid and more than a little embarrassed.
If I had been more intuitive I would have known it was not something for me to take on. I would have sensed that I was not experienced enough, that there were too many imponderables, that I lacked the resources and that I did not have the knowledge. I would also have listened to my friends who considered this an inappropriate project for me to undertake. However I was so full of my own sense of importance, so arrogant and vain, that I was totally out of touch with my inner guidance and missed all its quiet inner promptings, which I now realize were always there.
However all was not wasted because I learned from this mistake and vowed never to repeat it. As we follow our potential we can learn from the feedback of others about our vanity and arrogance. By learning to turn increasingly to our radiant inner swan, listening to the call for guidance and direction, we acquire humility and become both a better friend to others and more successful at choosing and managing projects.
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