The World As It Is

I have a problem. Children are being spoiled too much. Why would you give a pair of Jimmy Choo high heels to a 10-year-old? Why would you fly your kids First class before they even understand the value of money? Why harm your children’s character by pampering and giving them oversolicitous attention?

I asked my wife (Sandra) the same thing: “Why are people doing this? Are they aware that other human beings around the world are suffering? If so, what have they done to help besides pampering themselves and their children?”

Probably less than they should. Maybe nothing. I don’t know. I really don’t.

Why am I talking about this? We have to remember that our parents and grandparents competed against 3 billion people. They’ve endured enough hardship at the expense of bestowing us with more fortunate lives.

Today, there are more than 7 billion people we have to compete with, and that number will increase to 12 billion by the time our children become adults and have families of their own.

You have to be a "bad ass motherfucker” to be able to compete against 12 billion people. And believe me, owning a long list of living requirements does not help our children compete with the other 11,999,... billion people.

Many of our troubles arise because of our ignorant state of mind. I’ve travelled to poor countries, lived with nothing more than the bare necessities, and I came to the startling realization that the simpler life becomes, the happier I am.

Life is cheap. Lifestyle is expensive.

That is not to say that you should teach your children to be cheap and constantly penny-pinching. Instead, we should teach children to understand what happiness is so that they learn the value and purpose of things, not the price of things.

Sometimes, it's not about how much money you have. It's about how you view the Universe and how you manage your mental world.

The majority of people are only here to gain, but they have no idea of debt. They need to repay their debts for sure.

In the United States there is a massive student loan debt crisis. Worse, the government backs up the loan and has made student loan debt the only debt you can’t escape without confiscation. In other words, even if you declare bankruptcy, you’d still be responsible for the loan the rest of your life.

An 18-year-old can get $200,000 in student loans, but can’t sip a beer. Then they are trapped for life. Unable to get rid of the debt while university Presidents pay themselves millions in salary.

What if we start putting university Presidents in jail for charging $200,000 for a poetry degree then...[fill in the blank].

We’re turning kids into spoiled little brats on one side, and we’re graduating a generation of children that have more debt than any generation before them on the other. And we could only guess if the outcome is good or bad.

The world is nourished by many people. Some are full of happiness and fulfillment. Others are fueled by greed and corruption. Some have meaningful lives. While others are struggling with their lives. Some are humble, and others are envious and jealous of their neighbors.

Perhaps, this problem of mine is not so much needs to be solved, but rather to be understood fully.

After all, without sorrow, there can be no happiness.

Without pain, there can be no pleasure.

Without ignorance, there can be no awareness.

It is so, has always been so, and can only be so.

So it is!

Life Formulas

My algorithms for daily living. Keep in mind, your frame of reference, and therefore, your calculations may vary. Copyright free. You’re welcome.

Life = Health + Wealth + Relationship

Health = Exercise + Nutrition + Rest

Wealth = Values + Income + RoI (Return on Investment)

Relationship = Love + Compassion + Selflessness

Exercise = Weights + Cardio + Recovery

Nutrition = Natural Foods + Intermittent Fasting + Carb Cycling

Rest = Sleep + Nature + Solitude

Values = Trust + Accountability + Integrity

Income = Specific Skill + Marketability + Leverage

RoI = Valuation + Buy-and-Hold + Margin of Safety

Recovery = Meditation + Mobility + Yoga

Sleep = No alarms + >8 hours + Circadian Rhythm

Accountability = Reputation + Self-Sufficiency + Personal Platform

Nature = A place of great beauty with trees, birds, and quietness.

Solitude = An essential retreat that stops everything from what has been done to all experiences completely, and look at them anew, away from the repetition of habit.

Specific Skill = Expressing a personal trait that society cannot yet duplicate or train other people to do.

Marketability = Possessing a remarkable individual uniqueness capable of fulfilling market needs.

Valuation = The act of - at the very least - preserving capital, but gladly accepts its appreciation.

Margin of Safety = Risk appetite and tolerance.

Reputation = The series of cumulative track record that establishes a personal brand.


Self-Sufficiency = To be independent from esteem and condemnation of other people.

The Paradox of Education


The inspiration for this writing came when I saw a post on social media captioned: “Education changes lives.” Understand that education can be formal - i.e. school, or informal - i.e. mentorship. For the purpose of this essay, whenever the word “education” appears, I am referring to schooling.

Before we examine this profoundly, let’s get a few things out of the way. In case you’ve been living under a rock - I hope not - you must have noticed that the system of education all around the world is broken. Yes, America and England are also included on the list. Why? Because this so-called system has no significant innovation in the last one hundred and fifty years. This system is leaving students behind because of nothing more than bureaucracy and stagnation. This is a system that treats students like products in a factory. A system that, if a group of rebels had the power, could fix with their brilliant vision and ambition.

People have been debating about education system for thousands of years. Whether in ancient China or modern America, everybody had his or her personal method, and apparently, fiercely opposed to all alternatives. Yet, so far, everybody still agreed on one thing: in order to improve education, we need to change the schools.

The problem is, of course, the people who are currently in charge don’t know anything about the problem. They’re too entrenched, too old-school, they can’t think in terms of disruption.

Education is impossible to optimize. It has to be fixed at the local and individual level because each schools face different problems. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. You can’t innovate the traditional cost-savings the internet brings because, ultimately, you need a great number of highly skilled employees - genuine teachers - who are not stay-at-home moms or part-time cashiers like them folks over at VIPK*D or 51t*lk you know who.

Good teachers are expensive and no one is going to disrupt their jobs. Teaching is the most difficult of all current jobs for an AI to manage. If you don’t believe that, then you’ve never truly taught.

So, is education a waste of time and money?

Let’s go back in time and ask: “Why were schools invented?”

Weren’t they invented during times when books and knowledge were rare? Back then, people were uneducated. In fact, they were peasants, so I would agree that our uneducated ancestors needed the skills to think and be creative in order to attain and master specific on-the-job-skills.

But after years of innovation, mankind has evolved. Our brains have evolved. Our inventions are multitudes, and there are no signs of stopping. We have made a giant leap from industrialization to technological disruption. We are collectively more intelligent as a species than our previous ancestors.

The internet, mediating mediocrity and opportunity, has transformed many young people to do things very few of the world’s adult population are capable of doing. For the most striking example, there are many thirteen-year-olds without a high school diploma, who possess various attributes to create and alter AI programs. These self-taught and talented prodigies are start-up founders and independent contractors working with global IT firms, generating millions of dollars in annual income, and did I mention, they haven’t even graduated - yet.

And I thought: hmmm...they must be doing something right at home.

Where is the problem?

One teacher - not even a professor - said,  “I'm going to teach you how to be a successful entrepreneur. Everything you need to know.”

Out of curiosity, I looked him up. It turned out, he'd never left the university his whole life.

This is one reason why education fails. Much of what we learn in school is utterly useless. In his #1 bestseller “23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism,” economist Ha-Joon Chang writes:

“There are many subjects that have no impact, even indirectly on most workers’ productivity  -  literature, history, philosophy and music, for example. From a strictly economic point of view, teaching these subjects is a waste of time … Moreover, even subjects like mathematics or sciences, which are supposed to be important for raising productivity, are not relevant for most workers. … The importance of apprenticeship and on-the-job training in many professions testifies to [this]…”

Take English literature for example. How is it going to be beneficial in life? Will Shakespeare really play a part in your future life? I really hope not! Do you really think people want to sit and talk about Shakespeare conveying his thoughts and emotions? Is there a point in learning about things that had happened 400 years ago and is fictional? Nowadays, children are wasting their time reciting some bloody play they will only perform once in a lifetime. And I would guess there is a similar irrelevancy amongst students reciting ancient Chinese literature.

Another particular example is mathematics. I can’t think of a single instance within the last ten years where I’ve used any mathematical concepts such as what x and y equals to, or how to calculate the volume of a cone. What’s sad, we tell children these calculations are important, when we ourselves know the simple truth: they are irrelevant in real life. There’s more.

Did you learn a second language, or even a third, perhaps? I took four years of German in high school. What do I remember? Nichts. But then how important is learning a new language? As you can see, for the past seven years, I’ve been residing and making a living in Shanghai with minimal Mandarin proficiency. A learner once asked, “William, why aren’t you learning Mandarin?”

“Because I don’t need to speak Mandarin to communicate with you,” I responded.

Lastly, how’s your world history? When did King Tutankhamen ruled the Egyptian empire? What started the Zhou dynasty lineage during feudal China? You know, the main reason we study history is not to memorize important dates or events, but to be liberated from them.

The bottom line: if you don’t use the knowledge, it’s useless. Absorb only what is useful.

Of course, many parts of a basic education, like numeracy and literacy, are incredibly valuable for childhood development. And there’s no doubt that some parts of a university education do provide real on-the-job skills.

Let’s move on to my favorite part of this essay.

The Elephant and the Flea


People are really good at storytelling. Hitherto, the standard story of education goes like this: more education (and more education spending) is a good thing.

But do you know what is the most successful story ever told? Money.

We’ve been taught that economic growth depends on a psychological behavior known as consumerism.

We’ve been led to believe that bliss and nirvana can be achieved by simply buying more stuff.

More often than not we forget that money is only a means, a useful tool, an implement. It has no explicit nature. As with any instrument, it has certain purposes, but it will not do everything. For sure, it does not buy happiness.

The moment people stop believing in the story of money, the world economic system would collapse, country by country like a domino effect. Without a working economic machine, governments and corporations would not exist.

Let’s take a look at the chart below.


After examining the chart some people may say, “As you can see, there’s a strong relationship between education and economic prosperity. Clearly, economic prosperity goes up with more education. Therefore, we should invest more in education to raise our country’s prosperity.”

However, Lant Pritchett, a Harvard economist who worked at the World Bank for quite a long period, concluded in an article that “there is very little evidence to support the view that increased education leads to higher economic growth.” Indeed, correlation is not the absolute causation.

It seems the education system today is built around the story of money. From an economic perspective, school is nothing but a business entity; a franchise, so to speak. Trust me, if the purpose of school is to serve the welfare of worldwide education, we would have already eradicated children without educational privilege.

On the flip side, young people are promised that their degree is worth something in today's economy. But it turns out, they got flushed out by people with decades of experience competing for entry level work. They spent all that money for a credential to start in a field they're supposedly qualified for, but can't. I don't know about you, but I call that a scam. More on this later.

Here’s another graph:


This graph clearly shows that people with bigger degrees get paid more.

What’s more, this is not random  - “well-educated” people tend to perform better and keep their jobs longer.

So here’s the paradox:

Education doesn’t do a good job of providing on-the-job skills. Yet, educated people are better on the job.

This means even if what a student learns in school is utterly useless, employers would gladly pay extra if their scholastic record provides information about their productivity. Suppose a financial firm is looking for a new associate. An MBA graduate with a Ph.D. in economics from Stanford applies. As an employer, what do you infer? The candidate is probably brilliant, diligent, and able to tolerate serious boredom. If you're looking for that kind of worker - and which employer isn't? - you'd make a very generous offer.

For a four-year graduate of Stanford, this means that you’d spend roughly US$200,000 (plus four years of lost salary) on showing employers you have qualities that you already had.

What’s going on here?

The Infinite Game Theory


Let’s say that you have a daughter who wants to go to Harvard. The school accepts a limited number of students each year. The game theory applies when people are competing for a limited number of resources, in this case, the number of seats.

Most people are unaware that in order to be even considered by the Harvard admissions staff, applicants must possess not only excellent academic background, but also play sports, and usually, they play very well. So if you’re hoping that your children will go to Harvard one day, then have them start playing sports.

In other words, education works like a game, which separates students into different players with different levels, skills, and attributes. A game is a form of activity in which participants, termed players, make decisions in order to manage resources through rewards (grade) in the pursuit of a goal (to be in the top of class). As with all games, there must be other defining traits: rules, a feedback system, and participation. On top of that, people who go to top colleges are required to play the game well.

Of course, the next big hurdle comes when all applicants possess the same qualities. What do you do? Well, there is another trick that seems to be overlooked, that is, to get a recommendation from the Physics Department. Because of its rarity, a prospective student who is willing to sit in a few classes, get to know the professor, and perhaps, start communicating - and admiring - about the lecturer’s work, could possibly get a letter of recommendation from the department, and perhaps, catch attention at the admissions department.

But the game doesn’t stop there.

To make it through a four-year college, you need a certain degree of qualities - general intelligence, conformity, and diligence. The stronger your academic record, the greater employers’ confidence over you having the whole package of desirable strength. And people at the top of their class usually possess the trifecta: intelligent, conscientious, and conformist.

One more thing: can you keep up after you graduate? Because a lot of your classmates may brag about their awesome achievements, and you may feel you’ve fallen behind from everybody else in the club.

“I’m a Project Manager at Google,” says one classmate.

“I’m a start-up founder and CEO,” says the other.

What will you do? This brings us to another huge problem.

“I’m going back to school for a Ph.D. because everyone else has a bachelors.”

What happens when everyone in the world goes to college?

Going back to Chang’s work, he writes:

“Once the proportion of people going to university goes over a critical threshold, people have to go to university in order to get a decent job. When, say, fifty percent of the population goes to university, not going to university is implicitly declaring that you are in the bottom half of the ability distribution. So, people go to university, fully knowing that they will ‘waste time’ studying things that they will never need for their work.”


Imagine I’m standing up in the front row of a stage concert, the person behind me will have to stand, too. This creates a chain reaction, and soon, everybody is standing up. Yet, nobody has a better view.

It seems education may well be stuck in this kind of vicious cycle. In order to be competitive, people need to get higher degrees. But what happens when everyone in the world has a brawny degree? People need to get even brawnier.

Before we realize it, everybody will be in school for the rest of their lives.

This raises a rather interesting question: “If the purpose of education is to raise the bar (like standing up in a concert), then in theory, could we lower the bar - i.e. by having people go to school for four years fewer - and get similar results?”

A friend of mine, who is a very successful attorney, had decided not to put his son into a US law school. Why? Because it would take four years longer. Instead, he chose to put him into a law school in London. Of course, he’d graduate with a Bachelors of Law, instead of a Juris Doctor degree. If you’ve read this far, I’m sure you’d understand that the latter is just a more meatier version than the former to cope with bureaucracy in the US and Canada.

If you’re planning to practice law within the US or Canada, then yes, you’d need to spend the extra four years of tuition and school time. Otherwise, go for the shorter term and get yourself a good mentor.

What to do?

What does this mean for the general population? What should mediocre people do?

Well, if you’re looking for employability, nothing changes. You keep playing the game. You go to school and get a good degree, because that’s what employers demand. But seriously, would you spend all of your finite resources (time and energy) so that you may work for someone else?

According to a recent survey, about half-a-million Chinese students who studied abroad went back to China in 2016. Many of them had found it tough to land a job in the mainland. The survey also mentioned about 45 percent of returning students earn less than 6,000 CNY as their starting monthly salary.


After completing a master’s degree in digital media in the UK, Yang Liujinya came back home to China, but said that she didn’t have many opportunities in Beijing or Shanghai.

“Unless I studied in Oxford or Cambridge, employers didn’t care whether I studied in the top 10 or top 30 universities in the UK,” Yang said.

Yang found a TV job in Beijing, but her 3,000 CNY monthly salary barely covers her living cost. She did feel frustated at the time she had studied media because she really liked it, but she end up working as an English training teacher. Yang felt that she had wasted a lot of time and money by working in a totally different field she had studied. Remember the scam I mentioned earlier? Sure you do.

That said, if you care about society, these ideas let us ask interesting questions. Is education as valuable and important as we thought it was? Should we consider alternatives - personalized education, perhaps? If people with certain “qualities” are more employable, what should people who don’t have certain qualities do? What about vocational school? Have you heard of mentorship? Your author had written briefly about it (click here).

Does Education Change Your Life?

“Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” — J.K. Rowling


I get confused whenever I read statements which bluntly connect the words education and life. What is life? Is it spending two decades in school and working at a job the rest? Is life about accumulating money and then spending it on big houses, lavish cars, and expensive vacations? Or is life about discovering what you are good at and use that to help build a better society?

I like to tell a story to my learners about humans and pigs. Let’s say we’ve just discovered two new habitable planets. If we put one hundred people on one planet, and one hundred pigs on the other, what would happen in twenty years? If you had to guess, you’d probably think the planet inhabited by pigs would be infested with more pigs. Since their only concern is to search for food and water, pigs have no other purpose but to procreate and make more copies of themselves. That is the only thing pigs are good at.

But what would happen to the other planet inhabited by people? Or, for argument’s sake, what would happen if we put one hundred people and one hundred fresh pigs on a planet, together?

Compared to pigs, the human being is the creative animal. It is always constantly learning. It has deep curiosity, emotions, and - to some extent - consciousness. These attributes give us unlimited potential, and they separate us from the other animals.

You can educate pigs, but they’ll never be smarter. You can educate people, and indeed, they’ll be smarter. But what good is the knowledge when it has no application in life?

On that note, does education really change lives?

Here’s what I think:

When you’re growing up, you tend to get told the world is the way it is, and your life is just to live inside the world: go to school, try not to make too many mistakes, start a family, save some money, and maybe get a good house and car.

For me, that is a very deficient life. Life can be much more abundant. Once you’ve discovered one simple fact, that is, everything around you which you call life is made up by people who are no smarter than you - and you can change it for the better. You can influence it. You can start something that would help build a better society. You have the power to mold your destiny.

The most important thing to realize is to remove the fallacy that life is there, and you’re just gonna have to live in it, versus change it, embrace it, improve it, make your mark upon it. However you learn that - and once you’ve learned it - you’ll want to change your life, make it better. And you’ll never be the same again.

Nowadays, education has very little value. It cannot be relied upon to precondition us into reality. School is an excuse for daycare while your parents are doing whatever they’re doing. It consists merely of countless sessions of lectures and test taking modules with graduation as its climax. In the end, what you get is a piece of paper. If that’s what you want, then you’re selling yourself short. Perhaps, we should learn to shake-off this erroneous notion that a piece of paper can change our lives. And even though everybody else is going to school for the same reason, we shouldn’t blithely trust the system and disregard other alternatives.

Remember: only you can change your life.

The Allergy to Conform

Every child is like a single piece of tree. They each serve a purpose in their own unique way. Just as each tree matures at different time, a child will also mature when she is ready.

More often than not, a child who is mature enough and ready to take on the world, her vision is conflicted with that of her parents’ imagination. Because this is, indeed, the gift of parenting.

A parent had asked my opinion regarding one “famous school” in Shanghai. While I will always stand by my position regarding the fragility of the education system, I told her that any school is sufficient enough to teach students how to do well while they’re enrolled in the institution, but, as with any school, it does a poor job in teaching important things that will be needed after they are finished with.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to realize what children are learning today is the same as what kids were learning thirty or forty years ago. Some schools do offer slightly modified courses, otherwise, they’d have no reason to profit from you. The truth is, what schools are teaching today has no relevance whatsoever with what young people will do in the future.

“I think if someone knows what they want to do,” I said, “which school they attend doesn’t really matter at all.” Most of the time, people have no clue, so they follow the “famous school” dictum. But even if you do know, will you realize it, and make that your life mission?

Why do we follow other people? Even though it seems clear the consensus is wrong, yet, we still do it. Why?

It always fascinates me to hear the different point of views from a few intelligent children regarding this matter.

One said, “We really don’t have a choice in China. We usually follow other people.”

“I would do both, what I want to do, and follow other people at the same time,” said another. This puzzled me. Aren’t time and energy finite resources?

It doesn’t matter what the majority thinks. What’s important is what led them to the idea. The consensus is determined by facts, ignorance of facts, various experiences, circus of biases, degree of prejudices, and so on.

The bottom line: don’t merely agree with something because everybody thinks it’s right.

The other day I saw someone posted on social media captioned: “Culture is like a smog. To live within it, you must breathe some of it in and, inevitably, be contaminated.”

While its quality may be in accord with the familiar axiom: “When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” given my nature, I would be skeptical.

The majority would agree that it’s good to follow the traditional customs and decency of country where they choose to live. But, do you care if what you’re doing makes you confused, anxious, worried, brutal, or even violent?

It is always handy to remind ourselves whenever we encounter conflict between the consensus and our own thoughts by asking: Why do you imitate others?

Many people are still bound by tradition. When the elder generation says "no" to something, then the present-day people will strongly disapprove of it as well. If the elders say that something is wrong, then they also will believe that it is wrong. They seldom use their mind to seek the truth and seldom express sincerely their genuine feeling. The simple truth is that tradition is nothing more than a "formula" laid down by these elder people's experience. As we progress and time changes, it is necessary to reform this formula.

The Idolatry of Religion


A curious girl, who is also my long time learner, asked some questions about religion. “William, what do you believe?”

“I believe in what is real,” I responded, feeling a little odd, “Why?” I continued.

“My dad believes in Buddhism,” she said. “But when I went to summer camp in the United States last month, people there believe in Jesus. The children would memorize, and could recite different chapters and verses from the Bible. And when I talked to them, they all said that their God is the real thing. So who is telling the truth, my dad, or the children?”

“Why are you even at church in the first place? Was this part of the camp program?” I asked.

“Well, every Sunday we had to do a Bible study. And it was sooo boring!” driving her head to the couch.

“Haha..” I said with a chuckle. “You know, there are five major religions today. Buddhism - as you know - Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism. There are other smaller sects, but they do not have many followers. The easiest way to understand them is to think the five religions as five different houses - like the Hogwarts houses in Harry Potter. If you look carefully at each house, they would have different designs, colors, shapes and symbols. Inside, you’d also see the walls, windows, paintings are all different, too. This is normal because each house has its own architect and designer - a temple looks different than a church. Also, within each house, there are occupants and people who worship the place. Of course, the people in each house would follow and believe their place is the only true home. Sometimes, they’d fight with one another to defend their beliefs.”

“So...which religion do you believe?” she asked.

“When I talk to people about religion, they usually have some kind of judgement toward what I believe. But what they don’t realize is that I was raised as a Catholic for twenty years. In college, I went to different churches - even Protestants - to perhaps, learn something new. None of them gave me the answer I was looking for, so I left the church business. Then I found the love of my life, and we got married under the Catholic church. Still, I felt something was missing. Years later, call it luck, coincidence, or whatever, I found a meditation teacher. I followed him to different temples, did all the various rituals from four in the morning until six in the evening. While on my journey, I discovered there was this kind of meditation, or that kind of meditation. There were thousands of instructors teaching different circuses of meditation. I mean, they were deliberately confusing people about the meaning of meditation itself. Finally, I decided to just step back, and focus entirely on meditation without any relationship to a system, a method, or a religion. This brought me to the conclusion that any organized religion is nothing more than a group of people sharing the same imagination.”

“Can people create their own religion?” she asked.

“Well, that’s what people are doing in India now. You can go to any house in India and they’ll each have different gods. Literally, every local person has his or her own God. But don’t take my word for it. In fact, don’t believe in what I have said. You have to go and see this for yourself - if you’re interested. You have to study them, sometimes live with them. Once you’ve explored, and you are fully aware, you’ll see the same pattern over and over again amongst the different religions. By then, hopefully, you’ll discover the truth.”



The universe is big. I believe something powerful and eternal created this universe. Something that is sacred, deathless, timeless from eternity to eternity, and has no beginning nor end. Something that is not put together by thought. Or written by some monks from Jerusalem two thousand years ago, when in fact, earth has existed for billions of years.

That said, the stories we read in any scriptures are nothing but projections of the writer or writers. The only difference is how many people have and share the same imagination. And if you simply believe in what they preach, then you are living under the same delusion.

It is very difficult for people to see outside of their single religious home. They were brought up under a certain belief, oftentimes without choice. It seems obvious that this is just another form of conditioning.

During the pursuit of my spiritual awakening, I’ve realized that conceptions of the divine - of gods, of deities, of saints - are merely differences in imagination, and all religions were created based on the fear of death. If you ask a Christian minister: “What happens when I die?” He’d say: “For sure, you’ll get to the pearly gates. You’ll be in paradise and in heaven.” Give that question to a Buddhist monk, and he’d answer: “Depending on your life merits, you’ll be reborn either as a nobler person, or a useless pest.” But let’s not talk about them because they’re just too depressing.

Today, I wake-up every morning without bondage to any religion. I never felt better to be free from the sanctions, dogmas, and beliefs. What I felt was missing, is now, complete. Sandra however, is still obliged to believe what she’s been taught since she was young, and has not had the courage to see the other side. And I respect her decision, because being married - apart from listening and caring to another person - is also about respecting each other’s space and choice.

Perhaps, it is more important to think about the ramifications of our actions, and how we can use the knowledge we have to build a better society and a better life. And you need not cling to any particular religion to do such act of kindness and humility.