My reflections after my trip to New York and the United Nations in September where I heard a U.N. staffer mention what Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon values the most in a person: Humility.

I believe Humility is the most underrated virtue of all time. But it is one of the most important.

Humility allows us to learn from others and admit our mistakes. Humility steers clear of conflict and sees the best in others. Humility does not self-promote or put others down. Humility lifts others up. It is a peace-maker, a healer.

What if we had more of it in the Middle East peace talks?  In the talks with North Korea? etc. etc.

I deeply admire the obvious humility of Ban Ki-Moon, the UN’s Secretary-General. One UN worker who had chatted with the SG said that Mr. Ban appreciates humility most of all in people. I’ll have to agree.

You’re so humble Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon!

In the west, especially in a marketplace context, it’s a given that you tell people right away what you do, where you work. Self-promotion is de rigueur and helps some make those connections that get them ahead. Interestingly, in China, it’s more subtle. I’ve learned to communicate as the Chinese do and sometimes that includes putting my experience down and lifting up someone else’s expertise. But not in a disingenuous way.

Walking in humility is rather freeing. While planning for an upcoming conference down in southern China, I am multi-tasking like crazy and forgot to email the venue info to an NGO staff who’s presenting. I was gently reminded by Cao Hong, a wonderful friend and highly respected NGO leader to pass on the necessary information.

I admitted quickly that I had forgotten to do that. There was no other reason. Simply an oversight on my part. That’s not something I would have easily done in the past. I was too much of a perfectionist. I soon realized that that was humility in action. Learning to walk in humility – albeit with clumsy steps – has given me a newfound freedom.

Book Writing Update

I only have a few days to finish three chapters according to my deadline. I plan to send these to a few people to edit. This past week’s writing process has been more agonizing than usual. I went to the gym today, weight lifted (took out my frustrations), and later bought some oranges and apples from an outdoor stand.

I must be more productive in my writing tomorrow! I’m tempted to order a Big Mac from the delivery service (yes there is a McDonald’s delivery service in China!). Is there a proven correlation between consuming fast food and poor writing?