T Nation

Humility. The lack of pride or arrogance.

What we do, the activities we engage in to better ourselves, either for aesthetic or functional reasons, tend to lend themselves toward ego. For someone that started out fat and weak, the power one feels the day they rep their own body weight on bench press can be intoxicating.

Being driven by testosterone, the namesake of this very forum, is gratifying and fulfilling in a way few things in our ‘right now’ society can be. I feel power, I made myself powerful through sweat and blood. Through endless bowls of tuna fish and cottage cheese. Through heavy weights on days I would rather have contemplated the futility of my existence on the couch with a bowl of ice cream.
But this very fuel, the fire of intensity that burns in my heart and mind every minute of every day, can have it’s own disastrous consequences if taken to the extreme.


I can forget that once I didn’t know that soy was an evil protein. That 3 sets of 10 reps was far from a perfect formula for fat loss and muscle growth. That 2100 calories a day was far from adequate nutrition for my body weight and activity levels. That there was more to the weight game than just pounding away with curls and bench press.
I learned all these things from reading and believing things that weren’t true, then learning to question the information that I found, and finally building a base of knowledge (be it a very small base) that provides me with the ability to know what questions to ask when presented with radical information.

I catch myself being impatient with others who are just starting out. I forget too easily the days I thought the same foolish things about training and nutrition.
I’m not an athlete. I don’t compete in anything. I train for myself, for my health (and to look good naked).

The arrogance and cockiness I observe in others here is really a bummer. Just as Chris suggests in his article ‘The Psychology of Big Part II’ that the individuals mind can make or break progress toward a persons goals, I think the collective consciousness of the forum is powerful in the same way. The voices of negativity and arrogance can sometimes make this forum an uncomfortable place to hang out.

It’s the quiet giants that bring it back around for me. The calm, competent voices that impart knowledge freely without a hint of arrogance or impatience. This is a really smart place, with some not so smart people. I appreciate the big brains that do their thing without the ego.

I appreciate their humility. As I aspire to their max lifts, I also aspire to their displays of character.


Well written piece. Nice Job.

Very nice.

I just thought it odd that you use “impatient” for your actions, yet reserve words with more negative connotations like “arrogance” and “cockiness” for others’ actions. Just make sure to give the “cocky” and “arrogant” people the same break you give yourself.

Personally , the all of the great people of our time are arrogant men and women. The leaders/politicians/ect will all be proud of who they are and what they do but they just pretend to be humble. The people below 'em tend to be the arrogant blow-hards that annoy the heck out of me -lumbernac

awesome post! So true in many ways

“It’s the quiet giants that bring it back around for me. The calm, competent voices that impart knowledge freely without a hint of arrogance or impatience. This is a really smart place, with some not so smart people. I appreciate the big brains that do their thing without the ego.”

blushing Awwww, shucks!

Great leaders are almost all flamboyant/extroverts by default because that is what got them elected in the first place most of the time.

start hijack

People vote for candidate on an emotional basis, how they FEEL for them. Yeah, some dudes will tell me they do it rationnally, but if rationality was the real reason behind votes, which it is not, credentials, and competence would be the deciding factor.

But, what the hell, who will change that? Who is gonna kill the hand that feeds him and got there? Until minimum IQ standards (and tests) are done to give the right to vote, expect status quo on the administration and process for centuries to come.

Another thing. If you vote by how you feel about a candidate, why put a miminum age? After all, kids have feelings too. I see no difference. Both can feel.

We need higher standards. Those who live off the system (welfare-lifestyle for some good chunk of time, prisoners, fraudsters) should not have a right to vote either. Also, think about it, you need a license for almost anything important. But not for kids or voting. BAD. Specially breeding.

end hijack

Don’t think that’s quite where ole inkdeep was going there, Dan.

But, you did mention it was a highjack…


A definition of humility that I like is that it’s not stepping down to help someone else out, but realizing that you were on their “level” to begin with.

Good one Jared.

Has anyone read “Good to Great” by Jim Collins? Collins and his staff of MBA students review a bunch of companies and identify the traits that make a great company and how a good company can become great. Not to bore you with the book details, but one of the factors is “level 5 leadership.”

Collins defines level 5 leadership as, “Level 5 leaders channel their ego needs away from themselves and into the larger goal of building a great company. It’s not that level 5 leaders have no ego or self interest. Indeed, they are incredibly ambitious-but their ambition is first and foremost for the institutuion, not themselves.”

I offer this out in response to the comment by lumbernac that all great leaders have an ego but pretend to be humble. I think Collins would tell you that a level 5 leader is one that influences a company so as even when the leader retires, the organization still thrives, as it is no longer needing the guidence of that leader. A level 4 leader, in contrast, could build a good company, but leave it in a state where it can not survive without the CEO’s leadership, a sign of his ego.

How does this relate to the forum? The humble people that raise the overall forum IQ are our level 5 leaders. They are the people that care about creating a better environment to learn rather than telling everyone how smart they are or how dumb others are. I encourage you to read Collins’ book for a more detailed explanation.

Anderson: If you liked “Good to great”, pick up Dan Goleman’s “Primal leadership”, I think it’s even better and I thought Collins’ book was excellent.

CEO Leadership? Pshaw. TITLE Power.

Strip them of their titles and the power they have to affect my career/monetary income disappears. I would follow a CEO because he can affect me on these matters, not because of his personality.

Your new pm name from now on is Socrates oh wise one…;o)

I don’t mean to take this thread off the intended topic, but CEO personality has a lot to do with the success of the company. Sure the title is what gives him power, but how he uses that power and the work atmosphere/culture that is built affects the long run success of the company, especially after the CEO departs.

An example that Collins points to is Lee Iacocca. Bailed out crylser, but eventually because of his ego and personality, he didn’t set crysler up for long term success after he left. Iaocca, according to Collins, would be a classic level 4. Strong ego and ability, but doesn’t lend towards building a good company into a great one.

Dan, think of your own job and your previous jobs and how your supervisors attitude affected your attidute and the attitude of the entire organization. Sure the title gives him or her authority, but think about how CEO attitude affects things such as turnover, extra effort etc.

To bring this post into the context of the thread, the attitude of the “experts” influences the culture of everyone else. If Berardi, Thib, and Chad W for example, felt like flaming newbies left and right, imagine their influence on the success of the forum. While the three of them might be able to post intelligent and worthwile threads, it wouldn’t breed an atmosphere of success for others to post intellegently after they left.

Anyway, that’s my week attempt to tie it together. Or just check out Collins’ book, it’s required reading for my Organizational Behavior class.

ANDERSON: Two words: Snow job.

Sorry to rain on your parade, but all the bosses I have met YET are, well, bosses. Like a lemon, they are there the squeeze the most juice out of you as they can, at the lowest cost. Theyre in business first, them humanities second (and I doubt very much that the proceeds of their humanitarian crusade extend further than the said guys immediate family).

They are usually brilliant into covering this with a masquerade, like humor and other diversion tactics (including subtle bullying). I once thought greatly about all those Tom Peters class ideals, but I found out it`s just a smokescreen to fool the troops to help a couple on the top to fill out their pockets as much as they can. In short, all politics.

Now, why should I think that way? Simple. I look at my personal bottom line (money) and how what they say and do affects it. New strategies usually end up in the pockets of the top deciders. The rest are just cannon fodder for them. Thats what my wallet tells me. Ideas come and go, it may keep your company afloat for a while, but if you dont get richer along the way, new strategy or not, you`re still being treated like a lemon.

I know Hewlett Packard has some good profit sharing strategies set up. I have yet to see this as a rule. I call, rightfully, the exception. Joe Schmoe small biz does not care that much about his employees.

Management is good for smokescreens. Sure, you`ll have a great boss once in a while, but he answers most of the time to a CFO, CEO or somebody else. So even if your immediate boss is super, he still has to follow orders (and budgets) from one who is not that super, so you pay the price of upper strata nevertheless.

Theyve got leadership all in reverse. Ill cut my salary if you cut yours (a la Iacocca, but then again he had stock options and Joe Schmo had not, that`s like comparing two income sources against one). The reverse is also true. If you strike the motherlode, those who helped you should have some share in it.

Exceptional profits and bonuses should not be limited to management. At start, they dont have the companys longevity at hand. Contrary to insurance companies and principles, instead of piling money for rough times, management robs this reserve and pats itself on the back (bonuses, like for example, throwing out 20 employees to save 400 000$ and immediately giving itself a bonus of 400 000$ for a good job. Economy: Zero. Stupidity: 100%. Snow job: 100%) for a good job and takes it all (or throws it to shareholders ASAP). Bottom line, it`s the equivalent of one robber after another. The company is not more secure, leader after leader, because every guy at the lead fills out his needs before the companies. Family run businesses may be the exception, but if you are not in/close to the family, you are still a lemon or cannon fodder to them in their priorities.

Lead by example, then Ill follow you. Not the otherway around. That is, if you want me to work as someone who will give all he has to give. Otherwise Ill beat my own path myself and get squeezed by someone who really can lead while taking care of his troops for real. Or maybe Ill revert to thedo as little as possible-they dont reward initiative mode.

So, in short:

  1. Snow job. Its the same story, over and over: money. Profits. In managements pockets.
  2. To your boss, you are a lemon, to be squeezed. If he can squeeze even more with buzzWORDS like dreams, without a correspondent elevation in your salary (i.e. as long as it does not cost him a penny more), you are still being fucked in the ass.
  3. Look at what they do (what they pay), not what they say.
  4. If you are not higher-management, you most probably are cannon fodder.
  5. If they dont pay (or are willing to pay) what youre really worth, respect yourself and let them eat dust. They dont have you as a priority at start, so its fair game. Don`t worry, they always find another somebody who matured-into-enough-stupidity-to-buy-in-their-snow-job to fill your void.
  6. Your own bottom line (wallet and conditions) is the only truth. If management asks more of you, insure yourself that they do more themselves too, and that includes rightful compensation.

Sure, better bosses exist. I have yet to see one make me change my current opinion. I have to see it to believe it. Sorry to pop some peoples balloons, I have seen it too many times. A boss is a boss is a boss. First and forehand. Sometimes he is a leader. Dont count on it, though.

There’s a big difference between TITLED leaders and real leaders. If you want to find REAL leaders, go to volunteer organizations.