January 26, 2017

The Importance of Humility: The Virtue of Humanity

The importance of humility isn't a widely discussed topic yet humility remains an invaluable trait among many powerful people in the world today. In this article, we share with you five key attributes of humility that will help you to become healthier, happier, and more prosperous than you might have ever imagined.

As modern society places more and more emphasis on the virtues of confidence and self-worth, the importance of humility tends to get lost in the egotistical shuffle. No matter who you are, where you live, and how long you have been on this planet, the chances are good that a family member, a teacher, a mentor, or an employer has taught you to believe in yourself. To recognize your self-worth and, to accentuate your positive attributes.

These are undoubtedly valuable lessons to learn. However, when was the last time someone stopped you to stress the great value of being humble? Are you a humble person?

The Importance of Humility

Perhaps the importance of humility suffers from a bit of a PR (public relations) problem. For instance, many people believe humility is about 'thinking less of yourself' which couldn't be further from the truth. Professor of Philosophy at the Eastern Kentucky University Mike Austin, Ph.D., supports this notion. In an article published on the Huffington Post, Austin is quoted for making the sentiment that "Many people think of humility as ... thinking very little of yourself, and I don’t think that’s right." He goes on to characterize humility as "more about a proper or accurate assessment" and explains that:
"A big part of humility is knowing our own limits, our strengths, and weaknesses, morally or otherwise."
In short, while humility can help to deemphasize your negative traits, it can also contribute to building upon your positive qualities in some exciting and extraordinary ways. Perhaps, even, in ways, you never thought of—until now.

The Key Attributes of Humility

"What exactly do I stand to gain from a healthy dose of humility," you ask? The answer: Any number of great things! Things that will undoubtedly benefit you now and in the long-term. Beware, however. While confidence plays a role in having a deep sense of humility, it's important to keep your confidence levels in check. For instance, Confidence can certainly lead ambitious people to achieve great things. However, overconfidence is just as likely to hold them back.

The following attributes, which highlight the importance of humility, simply cannot flourish in the face of overconfidence. However, they will reap untold personal and professional benefits if you make a conscious effort to remain, yes—humble.

1. Heightened Self-Awareness

Humble people are simply more in 'tune' with who they truly are and have a firm grip on their self-identity. While cocky, "alpha dog," "look at me" type people may achieve temporary gains by projecting an image of perfection. Perhaps an image that may even convince them that this image is real. The adage: "nobody’s perfect" always rings true.

It's no secret many of us do our best to demonstrate our competence to the world. In the article 'Connect, Then Lead', published in the Harvard Business Review, the authors state that we exhibit this type of behavior because:
"We want to see ourselves as strong—and want others to see us the same way."
Thus, in order to succeed over the long term, you must learn to be aware of three key things:
  1. Who you are in the moment,
  2. How you are projecting yourself, and
  3. What is going on in the environment around you
Master these three things, and you'll be a greater success than you could ever imagine.

2. Accurate Identification of Weaknesses

Through true self-awareness, you can more accurately recognize your own limitations and address them. Whether the limitations you hold against yourself are mental (e.g. the limiting beliefs you hold to be true) or physical (e.g. a physical disability).

Accurately identifying your weaknesses is the first progressive step to improvement. Not only does it allow you to avoid the embarrassment that comes with trifling in areas outside of your expertise but, it enables you to "work on yourself" in a targeted and effective manner.

3. Higher Levels of Empathy

If you think you are better than other people, you will have an extremely hard time identifying and connecting with them. Inevitably, those who have trouble connecting with others will have difficulty in leadership and team building roles.

Empathy—the ability to recognize and share other people’s feelings, as Simon Sinek explains in 'Why the Empathetic Leader Is the Best Leader', "is the most important instrument in a leader’s toolbox."

Furthermore, as quoted in PsyBlog, a 2013 study in the scholarly journal Self and Identity found that high levels of empathy are linked to humility. A contributing factor which "helps to repair relationships and build stronger bonds between people."

4. Increased Ability to Handle Attacks

Jeremie Kubicek, co-founder of the global leadership consultancy GiANT Worldwide, explains this attribute wonderfully.
"Because a humble leader doesn’t derive his identity from his accomplishments, he’s able to deal with…searing criticism…with ease and grace."
Kubicek goes on to say,
"Prideful leaders have all the right answers. Humble leaders ask all the right questions—of themselves and others."
It's one thing to 'know everything' it's another to have the ability to ask the right questions at the right time. If becoming a humble leader sounds more like you, then practice honing in on the conversation at hand, asking the right questions, and building your resilience, so you know how to deal with frustration.

5. Better Academic and Work Performance

The end result of obtaining all of these attributes is enhanced performance and increased chances of success. PsyBlog quotes peer-reviewed academic research that reveals workers and students alike benefit from a predominantly humble attitude. Studies have also shown that humble people interact more authentically with friends and family members, leading to personal relationships that are ultimately more satisfying.

See also: 5 Powerful Quotes Answering “What is Humility?”

Be a Humble Hero

So the next time you are touting yourself in the workplace or posting your latest selfie on Snapchat, pause for a moment. Remind yourself of what you've learned here and, consider the various ways that being more humble can help you get ahead. Trace back to the five key attributes and the importance of humility we've talked about here and put them to work for you.

By keeping your ego in check and opening your eyes to who you really are, you stand to become healthier, happier, and more prosperous than you could ever imagine.