Better Humble Than Stumble

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In the history of the world, there has never been a city that juices itself more on ego then Tinseltown. That said, I remain a huge movie buff and religiously watch the Academy Awards telecast. I’m even more interested because my son, David, is a film director and producer in Hollywood.

The curious thing? For the very cream of the entertainment profession, genuine humility flows in their blood. Stars with staying power understand exactly how reliant they are on the support of others.

Two of the most memorable lines during the 2008 Oscar ceremonies came from the year’s Best Actor and Best Actress, Sean Penn and Kate Winslet.

“I want to be ver clear,” Sean Penn admitted, ” I do know how hard I make it to appreciate me.” While few would refer to Penn as humble, that had to be the understatement of the year! Kate Winslet was disarmingly honest: “I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t made a version of this speech before. I was probably eight years old staring into the bathroom mirror, and this would have been a shampoo bottle,” she said as she held up her Oscar.

Danny Boyle, who won Best Director for Slumdog Millionaire, went onstage and started jumping up and down. The movie was originally slated to be released only on DVD, and he said he promised his kids that if he ever won an Oscar, he would accept it in the joyous spirit of Tigger from Winnie the Pooh. Never forget that winning moments are also made of keeping promises to the people who’ve helped get you there.

I’ve been speaking to business groups for decades now, but I remember the first time my wife, Carol Ann, heard me give a speech. I knew she would be my harshest critic, so I practiced a great deal. I delivered what I thought was a great speech. Many people came up to me afterward and complimented me. In the car on the way home, I turned to Carol Ann and asked, “Sweetheart, how many great speakers do you think there are in the world today?”

She smiled and replied, “One fewer than you think, dear.”

Mackay’s Moral: The sound carries farther when others blow your horn.

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