2013 has the potential to be a very successful year. I'm attending my first Big League camp, with at least a puncher's chance of breaking with the Mets when they head north on April 1. I am into my 4th year of marriage with Ashley and loving every second of it. Her business, Buzzy Craftery, is expanding and she's got plenty of work. My Twitter account is well over 5,500 followers meaning that my observations about things like clubhouse toilet manners is being received pretty well. All in all, things are looking up and it might be tempting for me to get a big head. So for my own humility, and as a tool for my readers, I give you 10 ways to stay humble...
1) Listen: The greatest tools we have in our humility artillery are our ears. The easiest way to get the focus off of ourselves is to give attention to others. My good friend and Boosterthon CEO, Chris Carneal, always says "Show up, Pay attention, and engage." I like to think about those 3 things when my listening skills need sharpening...which is always.
2) Do things you aren't very good at: I'm not a very good reader and I'm not very disciplined to do it consistently. Because of that, I made it a priority to read one book a month this year. At the pace I read it's going to take me reading 20-30 minutes everyday to reach it. Humility is when you start reading a 200 page book and you wife finishes her 750 page novel before you get halfway through it. Thanks babe.
3) Surround yourself with people who do what you do...only better: When you are the best at what you do everywhere you go, it's easy to become complacent. It's also easy to forget that the next best (fill in the black) is working his/her tail off trying to beat you. You're never as far ahead as you think. It's like your car side mirrors. The people behind you are closer than they appear. When you surround yourself with more talented people, it raises your game and levels your perspective.
4) Learn to say "I don't know": It's really hard, for whatever reason, to answer someone flatly "I don't know." Probably because with all of the world's information at our fingertips, not knowing something seems like an excuse and not a legitimate answer. That's just not true though. Everyday I am learning how much I don't know, and I couldn't be happier about it. Life's full of questions we simply don't have answers to. It's exhausting having to know everything, so leave that to Wikipedia. Say "I don't know", listen, then learn.
5) Encourage others: As an athlete, you have people cheering you all the time, and let's be honest, it feels pretty good. Take every opportunity you get to cheer someone else. It might make their day and it'll make you appreciate those people who take the time to do it for you.
6) Drive used cars: People in Detroit are going to be mad at me, but there's something about driving a car that has a few too many miles on it. That makes a funny sound when you turn left. That stays in a continual state of "not shiny". These things, while frowned up by some people, are exercises in humility. When you have the money, it might be easy to go buy a new toy and keep it sparkling for the world to see. It's much harder to be content with what you have and take pride in having "just enough."
7) Call your Parents and Grandparents: I understand that talking to our older relatives can be time consuming, repetitive, and often underwhelming. But it is also vitally important! Not only did these generations take the majority of their lives raising you and caring for you (I do understand that's not always the case), but they crave relationship with us in ways we sometimes don't understand. Talk on the phone for 10 minutes every few days. Go to that family gathering...again. You'll realize you didn't get to where you are by yourself, and you'll be better off for it.
8) Learn to apologize: Don't just say "I'm sorry". Think about how what you did makes someone else feel. Empathize and apologize. Then figure out how to do it differently the next time (the conundrum of marriage). Apology does not equal weakness. Apology equals humility.
9) Hold a new born baby: Nothing freaks me out more in life than holding a baby. They can't protect themselves, they can't even hold their heads up. They put their entire security in your arms and you become wholly responsible for them. You can't help but look at a baby in your arms and realize you're not the most important person in the room.
10) Get caught singing something embarrassing everyday: Whether it's Gaga or ABBA, sing it loud and sing it proud. Then blush when you get caught and hurry off the elevator.