How to Be Humble

Dad died June 25, 2012. This morning, I miss him.

Dad was a dairy farmer from Maine. He didn’t need applause for taking care of his wife and children. He humbly got the job done, day after day.

the winner is the one who serves the most.png

He read books and took courses all his life, but never flaunted what he knew. Even when he knew more than me, which was most of the time, he asked questions and listened.

Love for learning lives in my bones because of dad.

12 ways to be humble:

  1. Ask questions.
  2. After falling short, get up.
  3. Adapt when progress is slow.
  4. Say, “Next time,” when projects fail.
  5. Asks, “How can we bring out your best,” when others fall short.
  6. Share praise when projects thrive. Success is harder than failure.
  7. Grab an oar when decisions don’t go your way. Arrogance pouts.
  8. Apologize when you screw up.
  9. Say, “We don’t do that here,” when values are violated. (Humility isn’t a push-over.)
  10. Reject favoritism when promotions are given. Focus on performance.
  11. Reject reserved parking spaces. You’re not too good to walk. (Make, “Reserved for visitors,” the only special parking spaces on the lot.)
  12. Celebrate when someone gets the spotlight you wanted.

5 principles of humility:

  1. Different from is not better than. Choose to be a leader among equals.
  2. Accept frailty while striving for better.
  3. Don’t grab the spotlight. Share it.
  4. Serve. Humility is seen in interactions more than facial expressions.
  5. Be grateful. Gratitude answers arrogance.


Humility is often a response to arrogance.

Think about what arrogance wants.

Do the opposite.


Schedule thirty minute – “no agenda” meetings – with direct reports. They choose what’s on the agenda. You ask questions. Try it every other week for at least two months.

My dad taught me about humility. How do you see humility in others?

How do you practice humility, even if you don’t always feel it?