Recently, I was delivering a presentation to a group of MBA students. As the workshop continued, the group responded well to further discussing humility. It was as if I’d turned on their ignition, and I was required to begin driving. Actually, they wanted me to drive further into the meaning of humility. In my experience, a lack of humility is an outcome of inflated ego, selfishness, an all-about-me culture and lack of generosity. Therefore, to acquire humility, we must employ selflessness, better manage our ego and behave with more inclusiveness. This quote by Rick Warren sums up humility: “Don’t think less of yourself, think of yourself less.”
Currently, it seems to me that humility is in short supply. That’s sad as it’s the characteristic that enables us to communicate more effectively. In addition, it’s humility that demonstrates how the power of our Inner Brand can shine brighter. These days it’s as if humility is out of fashion. I say this as some in the world of politics, banking and entertainment seem to abuse their power – with little or no restraint. In saying that, some of the nicest people I’ve worked with have bags of humility – no desire to brag about their ritzy car, designer clothes or expensive watch. They project a comfortable air of confidence. They do good work, are loyal and consider themselves an intrinsic part of the group, not just the head of the group.
In my opinion, it’s arrogance that prevents us being humble and curious. Many are not willing to admit that their success is a combination of hard work, team-work, experience, opportunity and perhaps some luck. It’s as if they consider their success as only being about their ability, nothing more. In most cases these kind of people are extrovert. They air their opinions, feelings and thoughts quite openly. They have very few boundaries. Their need for attention is of great importance to them. Doesn’t matter if that attention is negative – at least it’s attention. It’s as if they have little interest in distinguishing the difference between good feedback and bad feedback. Also, they can be obsessed about having the last word.
Their disinterest in how others feel, behave and what they value tends to render them without compassion or empathy. In my experience, being like minded to these individuals means people who think just like them. Therefore, endorsing their addiction to arrogance and lack of humility. They gravitate towards individuals who have little time for being generous, or truly listening to others. At times, they may appear interested in what you say, however, that’s just because it might serve them. I’m not painting all of these people with the same brush. However, over 20 years of coaching, presenting and researching, I continue to learn that a lack humility is underpinned by some the points I’m make in this blog.
Let me leave you with this: “The research is clear: when we choose humble, unassuming people as our leaders, the world around us becomes a better place.” – Harvard Business Review
Be more flexible
Be more open
Improve listening skills
Have more empathy
Have more compassion
Relinquish the need for control