Humility Defined: Believing and acting like “it’s not about me”.
Tony was in charge. But, nobody respected him, and he never seemed to notice. He was so caught up in himself that he had no clue what people really thought of him.
He didn’t listen to feedback. He argued until he won or others just gave up. He had to have the last word in every meeting. He talked over the top of people instead of listening to them. And if he was quiet in a meeting, he was only staying silent until he got a chance to rebut the ideas of others.
He made sure everyone knew about his past accomplishments. When he was in a training class, he would downplay the instructor’s points and tell others at breaks that the training was a waste of his time. He talked about his team, his performance, and his goals. Everything, and I mean everything, was about him.
All of us have encountered someone like Tony. It is really a sad statement to admit, isn’t it? None of us would ever think of ourselves as a Tony. But if we look in the mirror and are honest with what we see, our pride rears up and damages our ability to lead well.
Most leadership failures are character failures. And when you dig deep into why someone’s character failed them, you get two root causes – fear and pride. Pride is an insidious part of the human condition. In the Judeo/Christian world, pride is the original sin. Inside all of us is the desire to make it all about us.
That’s what Tony did. He made it all about him. If I were to bring up the topic of Humility with Tony, he would have spent twenty minutes telling me about how humble he was.
Humility is a topic that is rarely covered in leadership books or seminars. Our society doesn’t spend time interviewing humble leaders on CNN or Fox News. The sports stars who get the most commercials are usually the ones who are the best at promoting themselves. To discuss Humility as a foundational Habit of Character goes directly against everything our culture seems to desire. But is that true?
Who would you rather follow? Tony? Or someone who is the opposite of Tony - like Antonia?
Antonia listens to feedback without arguing. She accepts the opposing opinions of others. She actually asks questions and tries to understand another person’s perspective. Antonia doesn’t need the spotlight and lets her performance speak for her. She is always in a learning mode and sees herself as a work in progress. She talks about “we” and “us” when referring to the team. Her focus is not on herself, but on others.
As a result, people trust and respect Antonia. They want to follow her because she believes and acts like “it’s not about me.”
Now look in the mirror and ask yourself, am I closer to being a Tony or an Antonia? When I speak, is it all about me or about other people?
Based on your answers, ask yourself: “Would you follow you?”
Dig Deep Questions:
On a scale of 1-10, how humble would people say you are?
What can you change about your approach in order to exercise more Humility?
Exercising Humility takes work and is a lifelong journey. We want to partner with you as you practice the habit of Humility daily, which is why we have created FREE tools and resources to guide your journey.
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