3 Things We Get Wrong About Humility

Humility and I stand beside each other like strangers on an elevator. We glance sideways, but we don’t stand close. The only thing I say is, “Have a good day,” when I step off.

Image of a green leaf stuck in the sand on the shore.

A person who doesn't need your approval is dangerous.

Accident or intention:

I don’t understand people who are naturally humble. They probably aren’t faking, but I think they must be. Arrogance is natural. Humility is an acquired taste.

You never develop humility by accident.

You learn how to be humble reluctantly, usually the hard way. We keep humility at arm’s length because we misunderstand it.

3 things we get wrong about humility:

#1. Humility isn’t passive.

It’s not humble to admit mistakes and then play dead; it’s feeble. It’s not humble to screw up and look for sympathy; it’s pathetic.

Humility admits shortcomings and works to improve. Arrogance hides shortcomings to protect its image.

#2. Humility isn’t fearful.

Humility speaks the truth with kindness.

Arrogance protects itself by shielding people from hard truths. Every time you neglect tough issues or soften the truth, you prolong incompetence and weaken relationships.

Humility cares too much to disadvantage others.

Humility takes responsibility. Arrogance plays it safe for self-serving reasons. Humility takes the bull by the horns and won’t let go.

#3. Humility isn’t weak.

A person who doesn’t need your approval is dangerous.

Humility doesn’t do the right thing to impress anyone. Humble leaders ooze with calm grit.

Humility owns challenges.

Humble leaders know what they can’t control, accept their responsibilities, and won’t be bullied by either.

5 ways to practice humility today:

  1. Get mad about apathy. Embrace ambition for the work.
  2. Learn something. Try something new.
  3. Reflect on things you have learned from failure.
  4. Make room for others to be right.
  5. Practice gratitude. Humility and gratitude have an unbreakable bond.

What do we get wrong about humility?

How might leaders practice humility today?