Hubris and success
Humility can win success, but hubris can lose it.
I selected a couple of random blogs on WordPress today of writers I have never visited before, one was a letter “to a bully.” The writer was a successful published writer who had been bullied as a child. The writer boasted about their success as a writer, their nice car, nice apartment, healthy children; they declared they were god; they wished only misfortune and suffering upon all those that bullied them.
Whilst some of their followers praised them their success I reacted differently. It is rare that a comment from me is sarcastic. I wrote from the point of view of the loser in the gutter, the one who this writer had wished only suffering upon: I admired their success, their wealth and material belongings, how they admired themselves in the mirror as a god as they desired only suffering upon my gutter existence. I observed how that writer had lost something in their journey to being the winner, humility.
Heraclitus made a good observation that “Strife is Justice”, from hardship we are made strong. I would never be the sort of person I am now without the trouble and strife that I faced over my life. In each challenge that I faced and overcame I became stronger, I won the blessing hidden inside each challenge. I continue to struggle, continue to grow, but I never forget my humility. Many have done me wrong, but I have let them go, I won’t indulge in wishes of misfortune to them, the outcomes of their choices in future is of no concern to me.
The opposite of humility is hubris, it is a great curse to have in addition to success. Hubris blinds so that a person is no longer in touch with reality. Hubris in the modern sense means pride before the fall, and I have seen many fall because of it.
All success is a blessing. For the writer to brag and boast, to flaunt their wealth and healthy children like a prize bull is to take those blessings for granted, to lose sight that everything is temporary and fragile. Cars crash, houses burn down, children die; nothing is certain. To use such blessings in the ancient Greek definition of hubris to enjoy the suffering of others is to move such blessings into the danger zone of losing them altogether.
Hubris can obliterate success in three ways. One way is because of the blinding nature of hubris the individual miscalculates, makes an error which causes their “fall”. The second way is that the universe moves in feedback loops, so if a person is thinking, saying and doing a something, a part of that something feeds back at them. The third way is that to the subconscious there is no difference between outside and inside, or you or me, so to do or think harm to another is treated by the subconscious as harm to self, and it will deliver that harm onto the doorstep of the one that wished the harm. This third way is why some belief systems talk about the eventual gain to self from sharing blessings with others.
I wish success for everyone, but also that they treat success as a blessing, share that success with others, and with humility.