There’s a routine question asked in job interviews, first dates, table games and so on: What is the most important thing you look for in other people?
There’s variations on this format (i.e. “What’s the most attractive quality you look for in a potential partner?” Or, “What’s your greatest strength?” And so on) but, in general, the answer remains the same: The character trait you hold above all. When pressed, I’ve often stumbled and resorted to something trite and probably not true: honesty, humor, confidence, charisma, etc. Those are fine answers but they’re not in my estimation the correct ones.
And so one day I sat down on my pleather couch, brewed some holy basil tea, queued up some Anderson Paak on the Spotify and really, truly tried to whittle down the essence of what makes truly admirable, special people exactly that. I analyzed people I looked up to, people I was attracted to, and people I just couldn’t dream to be without. And I found that the answer could never be just one thing, and that many of the things I think I admire are manifestations of other, deeper things I admire more.
Here are the three components that, when taken together, create a spellbinding supernova of a person — one who can command a room and control their destiny, one who can be both altruistic and intelligent. And so I give them to you and make a case for each.
This trait is the root of all growth, learning and kindness. It’s the belief that you are not yet so great that your mind cannot be opened, and it’s the presence of mind to remember that we are all interconnected equals, and that injustice against one is an injustice against all. It is, flatly, an absence of entitlement. People who exhibit humility let their work speak for itself, they remain stoic in the face of their own suffering, and they remind themselves — and others — that life is fragile and therefore valuable. Humility quells ignorance and cultivates grace. I want this in the people I hold dear.