Recently I got an email from Jonathan Tang, founder of Swift Badminton School, telling me about how he knows an arrogant person who’s not very good at badminton and a few people who are good at what they do but they are humble.
It sparked me to write this post because, if you put some more profound thought into the topic, does humility actually make you better at badminton?
Swift Badminton School Perspective
Jonathan Tang’s view on humility is that humble people will always improve and be better than arrogant people. Sounds about right, doesn’t it?
He even gave quite a few convincing examples in his email. First, he talks about Harry, a member of an old club Jonathan used to play for, and he is the arrogant person. Harry was always calling himself a “badminton prodigy” and thought that he was the best. He never listened to anyone, and he never improved.
Then Jonathan contrasts Harry with two other people. One of them is Ben Beckman who was one of Jonathan’s former coaches as well as one of the best players in England. According to Jonathan, there is not a single person in the country who could have beat him.
Ben is described as one of the most humble people as Jonathan told me that Ben has never talked about how good he was and in fact, “likes to make fun of himself talking about the time he lost to Chen Long in a very ‘convincing’ manner.”
And thus, Jonathan tells me that being humble is “a trait you see in almost any high performing athlete.”
He then talks about the time when he met Zoe Smith who is a weightlifter who represented Great Britain
in the 2012 Olympic games when she was 16 years old and won a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games. Jonathan tells me that, “despite her incredible success and talent… When I spoke to her, I was BLOWN away by how humble she was.”
Then Jonathan gives another example of a CEO who’s made over ten million dollars and tells me about how humble he is and thus giving his statement, “Successful people become successful because they are humble.”
Quite a convincing argument especially supported by all those examples, right?
It’s true that many successful people are humble. I don’t disagree at all. But is being humble really the main focus of improvement?
Let’s take a look at some of the best badminton players right now.
If we go look at the top players, we’ll notice that most of them are incredibly humble. Take a close look at Kento Momota, the current ranked number one men’s singles player. When Kento Momota wins, he only gives his racket a nice clap and proceeds to shake his opponent’s hand. Sometimes, he even shakes his opponent’s hand first and then clap. But it heavily contrasts those players who would sometimes take off their shirts and run a full circle shouting with pride.
Another example of a player who is like Kento Momota is Tai Tzu Ying, current world number one women’s singles player. There are a lot more as well, but these players are notable examples of humble players at the top of the standings.
But does humility equal being number one?
Here’s the main issue. Let’s look at Lin Dan, the world’s most celebrated badminton player. He was a former world number one (getting a little old now) winning just about everything in a dominant fashion. Two Olympic Gold Medals, multiple World Championships; he’s actually won every single major title at
And is Lin Dan humble? Definitely not. He doesn’t listen to his coaches, argues with umpires, and sometimes does really scandalous things. And he does these things because he knows he’s number one and thus, he has the leverage plus the status. This is one example of arrogance at the top of the ladder.
Another notorious player is Kevin Sanjaya Sukamiljo, currently ranked number one in men’s doubles alongside Marcus Fernaldi Gideon. He has had multiple matches where he would taunt his opponents by flick serving, making faces to them, and laughing at his opponent’s mistakes. He is the real mastermind of psychological warfare in badminton, but unfortunately, that brings him a reputation of arrogance.
Yet, Kevin Sanjaya Suklamiljo still sits at rank number one.
I’ve also had personal experience with arrogant players that are at the top, even if it’s not the top of the world. There are a few humble players in my provincial tournaments, but there are quite a lot more arrogant players. Many people are so full of themselves, they would continuously trash talk each other down and continue even as they lose.
But they’re still taking over the top five of all the categories. Why aren’t the humble ranked 50 players in my province higher up?
And following the idea of humility not just applying to athletes, let’s look at Elon Musk, also a CEO. Elon Musk has definitely shown off his pride on Twitter thinking how he can do just about anything he wants. And yet, he’s one of the most successful people on the planet right now.
Is humility really the reason for success, or is it something else?
The Truth Behind Humility
There’s something else behind humility. Humility may be characteristic around successful people, but it is actually the fiery will to improve, and passion for what they’re doing that actually makes them good at what they do.
I actually did a related post on what I think talent really is and talked a little bit about improving and what makes certain people so good at what they do. Check it out when you have time!
Jonathan touched on this idea of improving, but he didn’t emphasize it enough. Humble people generally respect others more and have an open mind meaning that they are always ready to upgrade or learn something new from someone else.
The reason not all humble people are good at badminton or anything in general is that they don’t have the will and passion for doing what they’re doing. They’re just kind of floating around taking scraps and responding with, “Oh, I’m not that good,” when someone compliments them. In other words, they don’t really care enough to improve.
And the reason some arrogant people are good at badminton or other things is that they have that passion for what they’re doing inside them. And sometimes that’s why they’re arrogant! What they love will often create a lot of pride in them in which they just can’t stand others being better than them. Therefore, when they lose, they actually train ten times harder than anyone else and study all their weak points to reclaim their title.
It’s a different type of arrogance. It’s not like Harry who will blame things like the light or his racket when he loses. He’s just void of the ambition to improve and solidify his claims.
Let me know in the comment section down below if you agree or disagree with a will to improve and passion for what you’re doing as the significant factor contributing to success or no success!
What You Should Do
That being said, there are some guidelines and some false accusations I want to put down in this post.
In no means am I saying being humble is terrible. I’m just saying that it may not be the exact reason as to why certain people are so successful at what they’re doing.
And in no means, am I also telling to be arrogant with the qualities needed for improvement. You should keep the qualities required for growth and then get rid of the arrogance.
Being humble is still a virtue that will make you a more likable person. You shouldn’t be boasting all the time as it only gives a reason why other people should try to harm you and bring you down. Respect is something that’s very much needed to make this world a better place.
Plus, you’ll also notice that you may be happier and get better at various things faster because you’re respecting the good qualities of people!
Stay humble, but build that fiery will of improvement and passion for what you do. And that’s what all my and many other’s favorite successful people look like.
Of course, I have to give some credit where credit is due, and thus, you should go check out Jonathan Tang at Swift Badminton School. They have very informative badminton videos that could help you out!
The idea of humility bringing the best out of you is genuinely intriguing, but I do believe a more in-depth analysis leads to a meaning often hidden behind humility which is a mindset of improving. I talked a lot about this concerning what I thought talent was in another post that you should check out.
That being said, ideas and theories like these are always subject to opinion, and thus, I want to hear what you have to say! Leave your comment down below to tell me what you think.
As always, stay humble and have a great day!