Archive for February, 2012

Let’s lean on the pillar of humility

Jesus paved the way, through his actions, to what management gurus today refer to as servant-leadership. His strength was in his utter simplicity and humility, epitomized by acts such as washing his disciples’ feet.
In contrast, so many academics I interact with as part of my profession, seem to believe that having acquired a lot of knowledge entitles them somehow to always brag about themselves. I was aghast when one Indian professor introduced himself at a workshop for doctoral scholars by saying, “I have been a brilliant student ….” Needless to say, his sleep-inducing monologue about his scholarly exploits continued for a good 20 minutes.
And yet, a few days later I was hosting dinner for two renowned scholars from the UK, who are on editorial boards of ranked journals. It was refreshing to witness their humility. The conversation hardly veered towards them and their academic successes, but rather, remained focused on the present research work they were conducting.
In the same vein, talking to an Indian professor I met at a conference recenty, when I jibed that he had the perfect resume, with St Stephens, Oxford university and Harvard university as his alma maters, he just shrugged, laughed and continued talking about his current research.
These cases beautifully illustrate an Indian saying that goes something like this: A pot that is half filled with water makes a lot of noise, but one that is full of water is silent.
A seasoned academic or researcher realizes after some time that no one individual can be the repository of all knowledge. Infact, the more one gets one’s teeth into research work, the more one realizes how little knowledge we as individuals have actually acquired. So let’s be humble about it! Jesus was.