Life is a journey marked by the waypoints of humbling events. We all experience these affairs, great and small, in our personal and professional lives. We think more of ourselves than we have any right to, and we are cut down to size.
Explore This IssueACEP News: Vol 32 – No 01 – January 2013
For two summers I worked for a roofing company. This was my first experience with a real employer. I had pushed a lawn mower in the neighborhood at 10 bucks a job but had never functioned in a workplace before. The work was tough and dirty, but I learned to handle my end of the log.
On a bright August morning my foreman, a big burly man, told me to drive a long stake truck out of the yard and park it in front of the shop. I knew how to drive a manual transmission but had never driven a vehicle bigger than a large sedan. I was too proud or stupid to tell him I was clueless. I turned the corner too quickly and clipped the edge of the gate.
The crew came running and bent the gate back before the foreman could see what happened. The guys tried to console me and told me to keep my mouth shut. I felt bad about the gate but worse about being the fool who couldn’t drive a truck 30 yards without breaking something. This was my first real-life lesson in humility. I try to keep that lesson in my head to remind me that I don’t know everything and that sometimes I need to ask for help before doing something beyond my abilities. This lesson has kept me out of considerable trouble over the years.
Have I always kept this lesson in mind? Absolutely not, and I have again learned to be humble through my miscalculations and poor judgment.
These humbling experiences are inevitable. Taking risks and being independent, by nature, will result in occasional failures. It is not the falling down but the returning to one’s feet that is the measure of a person. Mahatma Gandhi said, “I claim to be a simple individual liable to err like any other fellow mortal. I own, however, that I have humility enough to confess my errors and to retrace my steps.”
As EPs we have chosen one of the most humbling occupations. Every day we have multiple opportunities to eschew arrogance and embrace humility. But, these events don’t present with a blinking sign that says, “DANGER!” They slip in like a thief in the night to lay claim to our conceit. One of the biggest pitfalls in our specialty is to think poorly of someone based on limited information.