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‘We Never Come Out On Top’: How Bear Grylls Learns Humility From The Mountains

Bear Grylls is familiar with mountains – from climbing summits like Everest to base jumping from them.

He says that one reason he loves the mountains is that they remind us of our place in the universe and about the importance of being humble.

“The pecking order is pretty clear: mountain, weather, you,” he says in his book Mind Fuel.

“Sometimes the mountain and the weather swap places, but we never come out on top.”

Being Grounded

Image by James O’Neil

Mountains keep us humble – in fact, the word ‘humility’ has its origins in the Latin words humus, meaning ‘ground’ and humilis meaning ‘low’. In a way, being humble is about being grounded. 

In Mind Fuel, Bear talks about the pecking order in life, and how we rank ourselves alongside others – either looking up to other people or looking down on them. “We can celebrate or diminish, encourage or dismiss, honor or patronize,” he says.

Humility is being free from pride or arrogance, and about thinking about ourselves less, rather than thinking less of ourselves. It’s not about low self-esteem, but about knowing your value, and then just not broadcasting it to everyone else. 

Considering Others

“How you speak about others speaks loudest about yourself,” says Bear. “Great people not only speak kindly of other people, but they consider others before themselves. That’s true humility.”

Every one of us can show a bit more humility in different situations in our lives – but Bear says that sometimes, humility is the most beautiful when we see it in people who could easily assume a position ‘above’ those around them. 

People who have success, status, or wealth, could be tempted to misuse those gifts to over-promote themselves, but they choose to put other people first. Pride is self-interested, but real humility is about putting other people first, and “loving people and using things rather than using people and loving things”.

“At the end of the day, humility and humanity go hand in hand,” says Bear.
And remember, humility is a good survival skill. “In the wild, selflessness and humility are top of the tree. If you’re a big ego, if you’re selfish, or you consider yourself too brilliant, you tend to end up abandoned, eaten or killed,” says Bear in his book Never Give Up.

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