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  • Writer's pictureWiehann de Klerk

Be Less

Updated: May 26, 2020

The less you are, the greater you become in the lives of others. Life is not about the receipt of honor, but, more about the giving of honor. If, in life, we all choose to give honor, then, without wanting to obtain honor, we will receive it. Therefore, life should not be about obtaining honor, but, more about giving it away: more honor comes to those that honor others, than those who purposely seek it for themselves.

On our journey, let's choose to be less, after all, we are less in comparison to the greatness of the mountains, heavens and stars.
“A great man is always willing to be little.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Winston Churchill once remarked, “The greatest lesson in life is to know that even fools are right sometimes," - the only way we can listen to the thoughts, ideas or perspectives of others is if we decide to be humble, to be less. Sometimes, as smart as we might be, someone out there knows a thing or two that we don't know, and in these moments, by being less, we can open ourselves up to more. With regard to the representative, Alan, I had a key contact I wanted to introduce him to that he can work with in relation to his company's latest innovative bulk handling system, however, because he decided to be more and showcase arrogance, I decided to move away and not assist him. A flower cannot grow without water; a baby without a mothers milk or; a sunflower without the razing sun. All of nature cannot be what it is meant to be without humility. A flower cannot grow without water nor a baby without a mothers milk - imagine if a flower decides to lack humility and decline water - in this instance, the flower will not grow. Same with us, we cannot grow if we are not willing to humble ourselves and be open to learning. Advice only has power when it is listened to, and the only time we listen is when we let go of ego. Churchill referred to this knowledge as being the "greatest lesson in life." When we let our apparent significance get in the way, we treat the words of others as insignificant because we believe that we know more. Once we are in a state of apparent significance, we struggle to learn, and once we struggle to learn, we stop learning. This is a dangerous place. Albert Einstein concluded, "Once you stop learning, you start dying." Significance is dangerous - there is no room for improvement. Be less so that you are always open for more. Those that we meet in our lifetime, whether a wise man or a fool will have something they can share with us. Let's be humble in our approach to life's lessons, open to the thoughts of others.

"Sometimes, as smart as we might be, someone out there knows a thing or two that we don't know, and in these moments, by being less, we can open ourselves up to more."

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Everything you do in life will be insignificant, but it’s very important that you do it anyway." This was and still is, one powerful quote. We can never truly know the overall meaning of our lives - we are not God, and we most certainly never will be. We did not create ourselves and, as a result, will never know exactly the meaning our lives hold, however, we do know that our lives have meaning. Every life on this planet has a meaning, whether it is long or short, it impacts the world in some large or small way. Gandhi clearly understood this, that life has a meaning to someone in some way at some point, or to many in many ways at many points. Which one depends on how valuable we choose to be in this world. Gandhi knew that the enjoyment of life is more significant than the understanding of life. Don't take life too seriously because no matter how seriously you take it, it never takes you seriously. Amidst the insignificance of our attempts at this little life we have, let's do it anyway.

2 Corinthians 12:10 - Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

Strength is, many times, perfected in weakness. Say, for instance, that a man who is ignorant, yet conceited, travelled to a foreign city. He insisted, "A guide is a waste of my time. I will find interesting views and landmarks for and by myself." After that, he goes - the ignorant man, searching and stumbling along, opening himself up to many dangers, wasting time. He looks for a palace, an art gallery and a view, finding nothing - what a display of weakness. The inherently so-called strength of the man availed nothing. To the contrary, another man made his way into the same city, foreign in his eyes also. This man is not quite as ignorant as the strong man, and follows an intelligent guide, gaining help, insights and new ideas. In comparison, the strong man, who remains independent of help stands on the sides of the streets, confused and attentive as he searches his maps and guide-books for answers. After both men return home, who is the strong one? I'm sure you agree that the man who accepted his weakness, and, decided to accept the guidance of an intelligent guide was, most assuredly, the stronger man. The "strong" man was, in fact, the weak man simply because he couldn't accept his human weaknesses. He wanted to display his strength, but, how do you display strength if you are not willing to admit weakness? You can't! Nature has this sorted out. Think of a child that is blind - what a helpless, weak and useless being, yet, despite his/her weakness, a strength is born. The weakness opens up other avenues where strength can exist; increased power passed onto the other senses such as touch and hearing. The very infirmity of blindness causes endowment to occur. The child is made strong through weakness. Furthermore, the child becomes so consciously aware of the infirmity causing cautiousness to bring about further accomplishments than that of a child who is free of such an infirmity. A man who is blessed by strong health is more likely to take advantage of it; to the contrary, a man who is disheartened by aching headaches, feverish temperatures and aching muscle pains will work, to his best ability, to obey a doctors instruction, conserve the life he has, and, bring discipline to his daily practices. What we see here is the power and strength which comes about through the very existence of weakness; self-mastery over minds and hearts. Weakness is the mother; strength, the child. To raise up strength in our lives, we must first embrace weakness. In order to be significant in what we do, our relationship, jobs, goals and even, our disciplines, we must first be insignificant - a place of insignificance is a breeding ground for significance.

Too many times, we accept the words, admiration and encouragement of those that love us as the evidence that we are wonderful. Sometimes, we even accept the admiration that our pets have for us as evidence of our brilliance. This is similar to asking an insurance salesman for advice on what insurance package to get. It just doesn't make sense. The advice, words or encouragement you obtain will be biased. Of course, those that love you will say things that indicate that you are wonderful, and, of course, an insurance salesman will provide you with only one piece of advice, and that is, to buy their insurance package. You might already be covered by your 401K, or Superannuation, as it's called in Australia, however, an insurance salesman will not tell you what you need to know, and same with those that love you. It’s time that we choose to listen to the voices of our critiques, enemies and listen to their words as constructive feedback that we can use to improve. If those close to you tell that you are wonderful, say thanks, but, then, immediately ask them, "what am I weak at?" Identify what you are weak at and share your weaknesses - be open about it, be vulnerable, and before you know it, strength will most assuredly make itself known in your life.

“True humility does not know that it is humble. If it did, it would be proud from the contemplation of so fine a virtue.” - Martin Luther

In what areas of your life can you reduce your apparent significance? Who in your life right now can you honor?

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