We’re coming to the end of our series of ten questions that have the power to transform our life and work if we have the courage to stay with and open ourselves to them. This week’s question goes to the heart of the matter when it asks, “Am I Humble?”
Although many would argue that the problem originates in human nature itself, few would argue that the demand for instant gratification has grown exponentially along with the technological and economic changes of the past century. Modern society has made consumption both a positive good and a quick fix. Shopping has become a therapeutic lingua franca for people around the world. We want what we want, right now.
Larry Crabb in his book Inside Out calls this attitude the problem of “demandingness” and he notes that it is the opposite of humbleness. Think of all the ways that “demandingness” expresses itself in the course of a day:
- We demand that our partners satisfy our needs and comfort our fears.
- We demand that our children look, act, and sound right.
- We demand that our colleagues work hard and do their part.
- We demand that we not be delayed or inconvenienced.
- We demand that traffic hurry up and accommodate our busy schedules.
- We demand that our efforts pay off and bear fruit.
- We demand that our communities provide services and safety.
- We demand that no one hurt us the way we’ve been hurt before.
- We demand that people listen to what we have to say.
- We demand that certain pleasures, especially those long denied, be ours to enjoy.
- We demand that our leaders conform to our expectations.
The list of our demands is limited only by our imagination, ego, pride, and greed. It is literally a bottomless pit. We can never be totally satisfied with what we have because a new idea, opportunity, want, or desire will always present itself, at least this side of the grave.
Note that none of the above needs, wants, hopes, and dreams are illegitimate. Some are clearly virtuous while others are, at worst, self-serving. Problems arise, however, when legitimate desires become insistent demands. Instead of guiding our steps through the trek of life, demands create a stressful and destructive tension between the present moment and the intended future. They are disruptive to flow, health, mindfulness, and grace. They make us rude and inconsiderate. In short, they take all the fun out of life both for us and for others.
“Am I Humble?” challenges us to look at what might be called our D.Q., our “Demandingness Quotient,” and to set aside the remnants of our self-centered, infantile worldview. If your D.Q. is high, that may take some doing • it may even be wise and effective to retain a coach • but it’s not impossible for anyone to make the shift.
The fact is, the universe was not created solely for me and for my agenda. It was created for love. It was created for God to know the mysteries of time and space, including exuberant highs and devastating lows. When we finally get that it’s not about me and what I want, but it’s all about the One that Deepak Chopra calls “the Ever-Present Witnessing Awareness,” then and only then can we begin letting go of the demand and holding on to the rest. Then and only then can we begin to find the goodness, peace, and joy that I wish for you this day and forever more.
May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.
Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC