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Humility On The Volleyball Court

What if we kept the big picture in mind and exercised Humility?

It was the first year Brighter Horizons Academy, an Islamic school in the Dallas area, put together a women’s volleyball team. The girls on the team did not dress similar to the Texan women who played opposite them. Instead, they paid respect to what was appropriate for their religion. Yet, this was not the only difference in their team. Since it was their first year, many of them had little experience playing the game competitively. Their competition, however, had played middle school, high school and club. But this did not deter the girls from Brighter Horizons. They were not expecting to win a lot of games. They simply wanted to get better and enjoy themselves.

During this first season, most of the matches were one-sided. The teams they played won quickly and by decisive margins. I have watched a lot of volleyball in my life. I know girl’s volleyball is very competitive. Getting the win is the most important thing to many coaches and parents. That is why many people were surprised in the middle of the season when one team came to Brighter Horizons and demonstrated a level of Humility which can be a lesson to all of us.

Brook Hill, a small Christian school from outside of the Dallas area, drove two hours to play Brighter Horizons. When they arrived at the gym, they quickly realized their counterparts on the other side of the net were not as skilled and would make for a quick match. But the visiting team decided to do something no team had done yet. They decided to let the Brighter Horizons girls play a full game and get the feel of the sport.

Instead of playing the game at their highest skill level, the visiting team avoided kill shots. They decided to create opportunities for long rallies. They passed the ball over the net to their opponents, making a way to keep the points going. Both teams hustled, laughed and enjoyed the match. The visiting team won the match 3-0 and headed home. But in one game, Brighter Horizons scored 16 points. It was the most points they had scored all season. Students shared the fact the game could have been 25-0. But the impact of their Humility made a difference in both teams. The Brook Hill girls were reminded to lean into the fun of the game. The Brighter Horizons girls learned technical skills in competition.

Newspapers and televisions stations showed up at both schools to discuss the match played between an Islamic school and a Christian school. [See here: for a link to their news story.] A friendly match like that stands out. It makes me wonder, “How many teams will put aside their own competitive nature and see the bigger picture?”

I asked myself, what could this look like for other teams?

- A sales team might share their best sales ideas with other teams at a national meeting.

- A traditionally white church and a traditionally black church might work together on a community issue.

- A fire department might share training resources with a police department.

Each of us can be part of a team who puts aside differences for the greater good. It begins when we individually realize, “It’s not about me. There is something bigger at stake.”

I have to share with you the two reasons I was humbled when I saw the volleyball story unfold. First, I knew if I had been playing, my first instinct would have been to play the inexperienced Islamic team as hard as any other team. Thank goodness the team that exercised Humility kept the big picture in mind. And second, the captain of the team who played with Humility, just happened to be my daughter.

Dig Deep Questions:

  • What is the role of a leader in developing a team of Humility?

  • What is the long term view most people may miss?


Making a shift towards taking responsibility and living with Humility is a lifelong journey. We want to partner with you as you practice the habit of Humility daily, which is why we have created our Habits of Character Action Guides.

The Humility Action Guide offers you a month of daily, interactive training complete with a daily reading, dig deep questions, weekly processing guides and instructions on how to use the guide both individually and with your team. The Humility Action Guide is now available here.

We are behind you, championing for you, your teams and your organizations as you become the leader you wish you had. We want to come alongside you as you grow to confidently answer “yes” to the question, “Would you follow you?”

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