I believe in: Humility in our daily lives



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I believe in humility. I’ve watched my parents build a family restaurant from the ground up. When I was a teenager, all my friends would hang out at the pool in the summer, and I would be washing dishes and working the drive-thru.

By the time I was 14, I’d rolled more silverware than Juan Valdez has picked coffee beans. I often felt that I was supposed to be answering phones at the gym or something else that sounded cool. I was stuck at the grill burning my fingers turning the garlic bread. I often reminded my father that there is such a thing as child labor laws. Then he reminded me that it didn’t apply to family businesses. So much for my argument.

One day when I was fourteen, my dad told me he didn’t need me anymore. He said to,”Go on home.” It didn’t dawn on me for a minute that he had just fired me. Even though I didn’t want to work there, I certainly was too good to be fired. To add salt to my wound, I had to beg for my job back the next day because I needed money to buy my school clothes.

Humility is realizing that the world keeps turning without you. Especially when you’re a teen with an attitude. This was my first lesson in humility.

The next lesson came along one day when I was watching my dad clean the toilets at the restaurant. He told me that his philosophy was, “There is nothing here that I will ask you to do that I haven’t done myself.” I was watching him practice what he preached right in front of my eyes. Humility is doing a task that you don’t like to do and could delegate to someone else, but doing it anyway because it needs to be done.

Now here I am 25 years later with kids of my own and a career as a nurse practitioner. My father’s lesson has stayed with me. I try to show my patients, nurses, and other staff that I am not too important, smart, whatever, to do the most menial task, if it needs to be done. Some people think I am doing this to show off or make them look bad. I have never understood that reasoning. But there are others who appreciate the effort.

I hope that I will pass on to my children the importance of humility in their daily lives. Unfortunately, since I don’t own my own business, I can’t fire them. That seemed to be a pretty effective lesson for me. But wait, they work for grandma and papa in the summers. There’s still hope….

I believe in humility in our daily lives. This I believe.

“Humility in Our Daily Lives,” Copyright © 2007 by Denise Atkinson. Part of the This I Believe Essay Collection found at, Copyright © 2005-2009, This I Believe, Inc. Reprinted with permission.

This I Believe
Based on a 1950s radio program of the same name, This I Believe® is an exciting national project that invites you to write about the core beliefs that guide your daily life. The series has enjoyed a four year run on NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Visit the special "Scrubs Magazine Reader Submission Form" on the This I Believe website to contribute your own essay. Essays by Scrubs Magazine readers could be featured on both This I Believe and on Scrubs Magazine!

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