I haven’t been able to check the exact wording. Still, a podcast I listened to made the comment that went something like this: “if you think of a speck of dust, a tiny sliver of dust, and put it in space next to a planet 9 million times bigger than the earth, then the speck of dust represents the specific you and that immense world symbolizes the odds against you being born.” Here’s another analogy:
“The odds that you exist at all are basically zero.”
“It is the probability of 2 million people getting together each to play a game of dice with trillion-sided dice. They each roll the dice, and they all come up with the exact same number—for example, 550,343,279,001.”
It’s We Not I
So why do I find this interesting, and what does it have to do with leadership? Well, speaking personally, I occasionally find myself thinking that “I” am pretty good at what I do. I pat myself on the back and congratulate myself for being insightful, or creative, or knowledgeable about one thing or another. I sometimes find myself thinking that “I” did this, that, or the other thing. Nope. It’s always “we” not “I.” And the bizarre fact that “I” am even here, on this earth, in this country, and present circumstances, is simply a miracle.
“A miracle is an event so unlikely as to be almost impossible. By that definition, I’ve just shown that you are a miracle. Now, go forth and feel and act like the miracle that you are.”
Now the purpose of pointing all this out is humility. When I wake up and recognize that I’m taking myself too seriously, I think about how I have no control over this matter of me being here. I am grateful to be here. It’s a miracle. I want to recognize and appreciate that miracle. The best way to do that is not to let myself fall into the trap of thinking I am unique in any particular way. You, too, are a miracle. And our friends and our acquaintances are all miracles. We can make the case that all living things and this very earth, which supports the many living things, is pretty much a miracle of chance.
Here’s the thing: if you really take all that in, then you have no choice but to be humble and to treat other living things — especially other human beings — as miracles too. There will be less of a tendency for you to think you do anything in this modern world without the help of others. There will be a lot more civility as we come to realize that we are no more (or less) of a miracle than the other person. There will be more, well, humbition!
Even Uniqueness Isn’t My Doing
The story I often tell myself is that I am somehow special, unique. Maybe I am in some ways. And, there is nothing like good science and research to spoil a good story — or enhance it. Statistically, I, you, all of us are a miracle. What kind of an organization (or world) might we build if we held each other, and our earth, in that light?
[Reformatted 9/2020 for our new website.]