During my humiliating dance audition this weekend, the issue of humility naturally came to mind. First, I was struck by the humility that the expert dancers where demonstrating so well. I heard no trash talk, no boastfulness. In fact, the better dancers helped the struggling ones while we waited. This was astonishing. Hope for the future in these youngins?
For myself, the temptation was to openly deprecate myself. I was embarrassed. I wanted people to know that I had no illusions about my dancing abilities. I wanted reassurance from the other performers that I wasn’t that bad or that they understood that I wasn’t going for a dancing role.
But this isn’t really humility. It’s a way of shading or manipulating the situation. It’s a way of saving face. A friend of mine was helping with the auditions. I leaned in and whispered, “Geez, you could have warned me about the dance audition!” I immediately saw that this was unprofessional of me. What could she have said or done? What did I hope that she would say? “David, don’t worry about it. Just do your best. Besides, you’re a shoe in!” No, she couldn’t say any of these things, and it was inconsiderate of me to put in her that position. It was at that point that I knew that I just had to keep my mouth shut and concentrate on doing the best I could do.
So what does the humble artist look like? Well, I’ve struggled with this over the years. I’ve been unthinking, arrogant, boastful, praise-whoring, back-stabbing…all of it. But when I think about those artists who are humble, it’s the ones that no matter how much better or worse they are than you at what they do…time for a list.
The Humble Artist:
- Doesn’t seek praise
- Gives respect to all other artists and appreciators (present or not)
- Takes direction and criticism quietly and thoughtfully
- Is gracious with receiving and giving praise and appreciation
- Helps his/her colleagues and accepts help as well
- Encourages and praises his colleagues (present or not)
- Welcomes the possibility of improvement in their art
- And are willing to laugh at themselves and let everyone else laugh at them, too!!!
I’ll be watching for and appreciating these traits in others and hopefully in myself this week, and perhaps adding others to the list. It just makes the work of our arts much more enjoyable. Agree?