Eliminate Pride, achieve Humility.

My father late Dr. Promod K. Batra, often exhorted me to be humble. I would like to share an anecdote which I first heard from my father about the great Scientist Albert Einstein and his chauffeur.

The anecdote goes like this, sometime around the 1920s Einstein was asked to deliver a series of lectures in various American universities. At the time the newspapers didn’t carry many pictures or photographs and Television was yet be invented.

People knew about Einstein and his works but would not recognize him as his photo was not widely published.

Einstein embarked on the tour with an eager young man, who was delighted to chauffeur Einstein to different cities. On the occasion of the first lecture, the young chauffeur requested Einstein if he could also sit among the audience in the back to listen to his lecture. Einstein consented.

The chauffeur saw that when Einstein was introduced many people were seeing him for the first time, although they were very familiar with his work. After the lecture was over, Einstein received a standing ovation. Next day the young chauffer drove Einstein to another city, and again requested that he be allowed to attend the lecture, and again Einstein consented.

In the end, Einstein received the same elated response from the audience as the first day. The chauffeur also realized that Einstein lecture was ditto same as the day before. On the following day the chauffer drove Einstein to various cities, attended all the lectures, which were exactly the same, word to word.

On occasion of the last lecture, the young chauffer quipped that Professor Einstein, I have attended all your lectures and they are exactly the same. I also realize that few people who are meeting you for the first time recognize you.

I have memorized your lecture word by word, and I would like to deliver it for you as this is your last lecture of the series. Einstein agreed with a smile.

The driver pretended to be Einstein at the venue of the last lecture, and nobody thought of him to be otherwise. He delivered the lecture word to word that he had memorized. He too received a standing ovation at the end.

The only difference was after the ovation had subsided, a person from the audience approached the chauffer with a question to understand some of the matters mentioned in the lecture.

The chauffeur was stumped. He fell silent, and finally turned towards Einstein and quipped

“Gentleman your question is so simple, even my chauffeur can respond to it, and he asked Einstein to answer.”

Ironical as it may be, many of us often behave like a chauffeur, pretending to be an Einstein, by merely memorizing things and delivering it as if we understand what we are saying. Showmanship may impress but often it may mislead.

I strongly advise, that you and I don’t limit ourselves to memorizing, but we must reflect on what we read, understand and then implement it in our lives, in order to gather insights.

In order to improve oneself, we need to avoid pretending, eliminate pride, achieve humility, and preserve the desire to become wiser.

An Article By

Vijay Michihito Batra

Subscribe with us