I knew you’d be back. It’s been written in the stars that we’re meant to be together. You can’t leave. There’s too much between us.
Like Part 1 and Part 2. And now we have part three. Looks we’re starting a little post family. Don’t you want to be a part of it? Well, here’s your chance and today, we’re going to continue to build on the last two posts and see what humility can actually do for you. I mean us.
Humility Gets Shit Done
So humility frees you from the ceaseless competition with others and makes you less of an asshole. Hasn’t humility already done enough? Nope. Like your dream spouse, humility keeps on giving, usually while wearing skimpy, revealing clothes. The associated benefit of not always competing with others is that you end up with much more energy and time. Competition is a messy, expensive affair and when it comes to competition for the sole purpose of ego aggrandizement, the cost to benefit ratio doesn’t make the effort worth it. Instead, with humility on your side, you can find a level of comfort in knowing that you may not be the best but you’re not the worst. With this kind of mindset, you are free to grow and learn at a natural pace, not the breakneck heedless plunge to out-do everyone around you. In other words, the you can be more calm and less stressed when you learn humility. Speaking of out-doing everyone around you, just because you aim for that doesn’t mean you’ll get it.
By now you should know that you’re going to fail a lot. You can try all you want but sometimes there is going to be someone better than you or things will just fall apart despite your best efforts. What happens when this inevitably takes place? If you’re the overly-confident type or the type who regularly pumps yourself up the way gym rats pump themselves up with steroids then your first instinct is find a way to preserve your ego. This can be to blame others, to sheath your ego with anger and indignant rage, or even to take out your frustration on someone as a means of assuring yourself you can still exert control. None of theses psychological analogues to roid rage are particularly healthy for yourself or others and all could be made unnecessary with practice of humility. Humility reminds you that of course you’re going to fail from time to time. Of course there will be better people than you, people who make more, who produce more. We think of success as a ladder but it’s not so cut and dry. Unless you’re a Steve Jobs or Elon Musk, there will always be someone who is better than you and when you exercise humility you’re okay with that because you don’t feel the pressure to compete. It’s about being your best, not besting others, which means that its alright to fall on your face from time to time. As long as you’re not dead, you can always pick yourself up and try again. This brings me to a benefit you might not expect to see attached to humility.
When you’re humble, you try harder, especially when it comes to cognitively demanding tasks that require you to acquire new information or solve problems (Weiss & Knight, 1980). Those who ranked higher in humility take the time to collect more information and overall perform better on tasks that require a lot of careful thought. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Let’s go back to our confidence/self-esteem juicer. This juggernaut of egoism will no doubt think that s/he can brute force a problem even when possessing few facts and little evidence. Why? Because, like dude, I’m me! I’m so good! I can do anything!
Of course the truth is no, you can’t do just anything. If anything, the data shows that the careful, deliberate consideration that humility engenders gives the edge in performance to those who don’t construct monuments to their egos. Humility reminds us that we don’t have all the answers, even if we want to think we do. As such, the humble person looks more deeply, dissects problems a bit more thoroughly. A humble mindset forces one to consider that one can be wrong and to reject simplistic answers and solutions that cater to the belief that we’re smarter and better than we really are. Instead, humility forces one to consider that the solutions we seek are mired in a complex world that doesn’t care very much for making things easy on us; thus, if we are going to devise solutions we must be ready to keep digging and engage the world on its complex and non-accommodating terms, not our own. Finally, this leads to the final piece of this section which revolves around meeting others on their terms and not just our own.
The last place you’d expect to find humility playing an important role is leadership but, like that little scoop of vanilla ice cream cozying up to a slice of pie, humility makes leaders better. We’re used to the idea of leaders and bosses being able and willing to act with impunity, regardless of how it affects others but effective leadership incorporates humility. Figures like Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Jesus Christ all shared the trait of humility. They were not in it for themselves but were simply the front piece for something they believed in that was much larger than themselves. So too should modern day leaders use their positions as a way to serve a larger purpose and not just their own egos. When leaders do this, they help those they are leading to collectively move towards achieving their potential as well as enhancing their performance along the way (Owens & Hekman, 2015). Let’s face it, again, our leaders are just human and both they themselves and those who follow them need to keep that in mind. Those in leadership positions don’t have all the answers nor are they better than anybody else and so should not treat others as lessers just because they have the nice corner office they can shut the door on so they can binge watch YouTube videos. When leaders put aside their status, they can connect better with those on the front lines. Combining the long-view being at the top of the ladder offers with the realities of daily operations is a powerful combination that makes use of everybody’s talents and helps to get shit done in the short terms as well as figuring out what needs to be done to make sure that the shit keeps getting done into the future.
Speaking of looking ahead to the future, let’s take a break here. I’m sure you’re tired and will want to get your stuff. After all, we’re moving in together. Didn’t you know? Oh yeah. We got stuff to do, dreams to build, and a guide on how to become more humble and gain perspective on life to construct. So until next time, remember, I’m watching…. Always watching.
Albrecht, K. (2015, January 8). The paradoxical power of humility: Why humility is under-rated and misunderstood.Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/brainsnacks/201501/the-paradoxical-power-humility
Owens, B.P., Hekman, D.R. (2015). How does leader humility affect team performance? Exploring the mechanisms of contagion and collective promotion focus. Academy of Management Journal, 59(3), 1088-1111. Retrieved from http://amj.aom.org
Weiss, H.M., Knight, P.A. (1980). The utility of humility: Self-esteem, information search, and problem-solving efficiency. Organizational Behavior and Human Performance, 25(2), 21-223. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com