I Wasn’t Very Proud of My Feelings – Sir Edmund Hillary
“It is not the mountains we conquer but ourselves.” Sir Edmund Hillary
On May 29, 1953 Sir Edmund Hillary conquered Mount Everest with his Sherpa friend and guide, Tenzin Norgay.
As a result he was knighted. In 1985 he was made New Zealand’s highest commissioner to India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. In 1995 he received the British Order of the Garter (membership of which is limited to just twenty-four individuals).
In 1992 the image of Sir Edmund Hillary (July 20, 1919 – January 11, 2008) replaced the image of Queen Elizabeth II on New Zealand’s 5 Dollar Note.
You might be surprised to learn that Hillary was most proud of the Himalayan Trust he started which has built 30 schools, two hospitals, and 12 medical clinics in Nepal’s Khumbu region. (siredmundhillary.com)
In an NPR interview, Hillary admitted that he wasn’t sure whether he really wanted his climbing friends, Tom Bourdillon and Charles Evans, to make it to the top first.
It ended up that they had to turn back 300 feet short of the summit. Two days later Hillary and his Sherpa stood on top of the world.
“I wasn’t very proud of my feelings,” Hillary admitted. (NPR)
4 truths about humility:
#1. The acknowledgement of arrogance is an expression of humility.
Arrogance is so deeply ingrained in me that it’s hard to imagine others don’t grapple with the beast.
#2. Humility wants others to succeed. Arrogance doesn’t want others to outshine it.
You might believe that wanting to out-do your friends is a good thing. But Hillary wasn’t proud of his hope that Tom and Charles didn’t reach the summit first.
#3. Humility isn’t playing dead.
Hillary didn’t stop climbing when his friends stopped. He pressed on.
Arrogance puts others down. Humility does its best.
#4. Humility uses personal success to enhance the lives of others.
Today’s leadership project: Show up to help others win.
How might you practice humility today?
“in 1995 he received the British Order of the Gater”. Gaters (or gators) are alligators. They eat people. Edmund Hillary joined the Order of the Garter, whose motto is Honi soit qui mal y pense (evil to him who thinks evil of it).
Thanks Phillip. Your comment brought a big smile to my face. How is it you know so much about the Order of the Garter.
BTW…thanks for the heads up on fixing the spelling.
I caught a couple of typos (I think) in your latest post â you might want to double check my on the fly fact check, but Iâm pretty confident about these.
Iâm a big fan of your work â I read every day, periodically send to others (often your messages are right on point to our current discussions), and save some of them. Thank you for the words which are so often both inspiring and practical a unique combination.
As a result he was knighted. In 1985 he was made New Zealandâs highest commissioner to India, Nepal, and Bangladesh [Countries of the Commonwealth / former British Empires donât send each other ambassadors â they send High Commissioners]. In 1995 he received the British Order of the Garter (membership of which is limited to just twenty-four individuals).
Thanks Shannon. I hope I have most of the typos corrected. Thanks again.
I thought for sure you would point out that Tenzin Norgay was the true leader, guiding Sir Edmund and receiving none of the accolades. That’s true servant leadership.
Thanks Ani. The relationship between Hillary and Norgay was a close one by all accounts. I found it interesting that Hillary claimed for years that Norgay was first to the top. After some investigation, it seems that Hillary was truly the first. However, Hillary would most likely agree with you.
Tenzin Norgay did receive recognition. Time Magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century.
I suppose the queens recognition of Hillary not long after the ascent helped his notoriety. However, everything I read about him suggests that he was a humble man who didn’t take advantage of his celebrity. He actually used it for others.
Cool. Thanks for the reply.
On May 22nd, 1963 Lute Jerstad and Barry Bishop reached the summit of Mount Everest, walking the final steps arm in arm so that it could not be said that one had reached the top before the other.
Thanks Daniel. Cool story. It reminds me that leadership is partnership. Cheers
I think I might practice humility today by listening carefully to my staff members, reflecting on their thoughts before sharing my own, accepting critical comments for the feedback they may provide and considering that my own supervisor may have good reasons for decisions with which I disagree…
Thanks Doc. I must say that listening seems to be one of the best expressions of humility. Best wishes.
Hey Dan, nice to see a familiar face on your blog! Without Doubt one of our greatest and most complex New Zealanders. And Yes Tenzin Norgay and he had plenty of mutual respect – the fact Hillary dedicated much of the rest of his life to the people of Nepal I think reflects that. Have a few mountains to climb myself at present, humility is all to easy when you’re being humbled!!
Hi Richard. So great seeing you here today.
I’ve been thinking that it’s better to humble ourselves than be humbled. But, both are huge challenges.
You have my best and thanks for still reading LF. It’s a real joy. Cheers
Leaders could challenge their false assumptions and belief systems.
I gave pause and consideration to the first truth: “The acknowledgement of arrogance is an expression of humility.” This clicked for me as it took several years for me to recognize my own arrogance in the work that I did. It was only in retrospect that I realized the value I felt I was imparting was at the expense of the viewpoint and contribution of those I thought I was helping. It seems to be a delicate balance and requires a significant amount of self awareness.