“You are who you are when no one is watching.”

Jay Shetty, Think Like A Monk

Thursday, 5 August 2021


We are open to learning when we are humble. This is because we understand how much we don’t know. One of the biggest obstacles to learning is the ego, especially the “know-it-all whose false self-confidence is rooted in the ego. An unchecked ego harms us”.

Many of us have two facades. The real, true us that is hidden from the world but emerges in our own private spaces and the us that we present to the world. The us that we want others to perceive. The us that makes us “appear more knowledgeable, more accomplished, more confident”. Who and what are you when there’s nobody around? What choices do you make? This persona is who you truly are.

In his book, Shetty says that the “ego makes us liars; the ego creates false hierarchies; the ego is an obstacle to growth; the ego isolates us. If you don’t break your ego, life will break if for you”. Quite a list of negativity, in my opinion.

So how do we tame this ego, keep it in check? According to Shetty, “Humility is the elixir of the ego. Humility allows us to understand our weaknesses and want to improve. Humility allows you to see your own strengths and weaknesses clearly, so you can work, learn and grow”.

Unfortunately for us, humility doesn’t come naturally and is a value that we need to practice. Reflecting on the bad things we’ve done to others and the good that others have done for us forces our egos to remember our inadequacies and imperfections as well as feeling gratitude for the gifts of others. “Remembering your mistakes and forgetting your achievements restrains the ego and increases gratitude – a simple, effective recipe for humility”.

Be aware of your ego, aware of when and what makes it flare. Take note but don’t indulge it, which in turn makes your ego powerless over you. This moment of humility also allows you to offer kindness to the wrong-doer. It enables you to compensate for their behaviour because you don’t know where they are in their life, what stresses and pressures they may be under at that specific time. Your humility, in a moment like that, can be a life-saver for some.

“Detaching from your ego is liberating and inspires gratitude”. It is not necessary to be the best at everything or to know everything. Our achievements do not define us. “You are not your success or your failure”. When we are grateful for what we have achieved and for those that have helped us to get there, we are inspired to teach others and pass on our experiences. Build your confidence as that is what helps you to accept yourself as you are. A healthy self-esteem allows you to learn and express yourself and will enable you to live with intention.

Real greatness is related to depth. So move your goal posts, “aspire to greater scale and depth”, aim higher, never think “I’ve arrived”, as there is still so much more work to be done.

“Real greatness is when you use your own achievements to teach others, and they learn how to teach others, and the greatness that you’ve accomplished expands exponentially. The most powerful, admirable, captivating quality in any human is seen when they’ve achieved great things, but still embrace humility and their own insignificance”.

Dear God,

My prayer today is that I may be humble and that I may be grateful. Move me and use me, Lord, to inspire and teach others to embrace their humility and detach from their egos.


Gillian Hugo

Gillian was educated at Pretoria High School for Girls and at Johannesburg College of Education where she qualified as a pre-school teacher. She has taught for more than 20 years in the government and private sectors. Gillian is married and has 2 children. She is training as a mindset and mindfulness coach. Gillian enjoys being creative and her hobbies include watercolour painting, reading, travelling and she loves the beach!

See more from Gillian Hugo
No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Click to subscribe to: