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Stay Hungry, Stay Humble

Stay Hungry, Stay Humble

Question: What does it mean to stay hungry and stay humble?

Close your eyes and visualize your favorite athlete. Maybe you’re picturing your favorite NFL quarterback, the second baseman on your local triple AAA baseball team, or your 5:00 AM gym partner. Now, list the top 5 reasons why he or she is your favorite athlete. Surely, among the reasons listed are the individual’s accomplishments. Maybe a championship ring? Perhaps a signature crossover on the basketball court?

What about humility? Was the character trait of humility included in your list of reasons?

“I often get asked about leadership and the qualities that I look for in a great leader. To me, while it might be surprising, the number one quality is humility. Being a leader, not being afraid to say that a mistake was made, not always looking for the credit or recognition, but building up others and being humble - that’s what goes into long term success. Tony Dungy, NFL Player, Coach, Sports Analyst

We can define the term humble as an individual that is not prideful, haughty, or arrogant. Referencing the etymology of the word humilis, words like poor, insignificant, needy, and low can all be linked to the concept of humility. So then why exactly are coaches so insistent on having humble athletes?

In C. J. Mahaney’s book, “Don’t Waste Your Sports,” seven signs of a humble athlete are outlined:

  1. A humble athlete recognizes his or her limitations. Athletes are all designed differently, each with a set of limits. Limits are intended to challenge us.

  2. A humble athlete welcomes critique from coaches and teammates. As a humble athlete, we welcome feedback. Recognizing that there is space to improve opens the door for correction and growth.

  3. A humble athlete acknowledges and appreciates the contributions of others. As the saying goes, there is no “i” in team. Whether through the support of teammates or coaches, an athlete accomplishes nothing alone.

  4. A humble athlete is gracious in defeat and modest in victory. When faced with a loss, a humble athlete recognizes the strengths of the opponent with sincere congratulations. In victory, a humble athlete does not celebrate excessively with arrogance. Victory is a gift for the humble athlete.

  5. A humble athlete honors his or her coach. Coaches are mocked neither in person nor private. Rather, coaches are revered by the humble athlete. The athlete expresses gratitude for the coach’s guidance.

  6. A humble athlete respects the officials. Whether calls are accurate or inaccurate, a humble athlete does not protest. Rather, the athlete accepts the call and moves forward.

  7. A humble athlete gives glory for all accomplishments to God. The athlete recognizes that all skills and talents are divine gifts.


Question: So now that we have learned the trademarks of a humble athlete, what can we do if we are not the poster child of humility?

Answer: Stay hungry, stay humble.

  1. Learn. Open your mind and lower your guard. Whether it is a physical skill or a moral lesson, learn something new from each person that you come into contact with.

  2. Train. Surround yourself with people who are better than you. You are the company that you keep. Noted by Olympic gymnast Simone Biles, you should, “Surround yourself with dreamers, the doers, the believers, and the thinkers, but most of all, surround yourself with those who see greatness within you even when you don’t see it yourself.” As we learn from each other, similar to the way that iron sharpens iron, we grind and refine each other to improve.

  3. Believe. Humility does not equate to a lack of confidence. We can believe in our capabilities and potential to achieve without doubting ourselves and remaining humble.You need to have confidence in yourself to accomplish great things.

  4. Inspire. Humble athletes inspire others. Humble athletes create an environment where everybody has respect and an opportunity to thrive. Model gratitude and praise. Humble athletes can share success with their team. Looking forward, these communities of humble athletes can inspire role models in future generations.

So the question remains, athletes, how will you stay hungry and stay humble? Continue to work on yourself both mentally and physically so that you continue to learn, train, believe, and inspire.

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