Humility Defined: Believing and acting like “It’s not about me.” Arrogance is the opposite of Humility. We see it play out in the media with politicians, pundits and celebrities during the never ending, twenty-four hour news commentary. They make statements, don’t let the opposing side respond, talk over the top of each other, and try to end every conversation with a final statement that makes them look like they have won. I can barely watch those shows anymore because of the arrogance these people display. But then I look in the mirror….
I have a really bad habit of needing to be right. I like to get the last word in, or make a definitive statement that will make me feel good. It makes me feel like I won a debate. But most of the time I don’t win anything. In actuality, I’m more interested in my own opinion. My goal is to overwhelm them with my “facts”. Based on that criteria, I feel vindicated. I feel superior. I feel like I win. But in fact the other person is not convinced of anything and nobody wins. You know, it is really easy to see the stick in someone else’s eye and ignore the log in our own. I have come to the realization that my need to be “right” is an exercise in arrogance just like the people I condemn on those shows. I spend more time formulating my rebuttals than I do actually listening to the perspective of the other person. My arrogance shocks me sometimes. How can I be so sure my perspective is “right” if I haven’t even attempted to understand the other person’s perspective? Unfortunately, as I have examined this sad pattern in my life, I realize how many people I have shut down and minimized as a result. Whether at work with peers or subordinates, or at home with my wife or my kids, I find myself working harder to make my points than to listen to theirs. What does that say about me? The same thing it says about those people on TV that I scorn. It says I am arrogant. Unfortunately, I see many of us do the same thing. Our need to be right or just feel right is a window into our character. It’s a bad habit that is unattractive and pushes people away from us. Repelling people is not the role of a leader. If our arrogance is repelling those we are called to lead, then we need to change our prideful habits. How can we do that??
The answer is to make new choices. Each time we make a choice we are either strengthening an old habit or starting a new one. If we are in the habit of being arrogant, then we should make new choices and start a new habit of Humility.
● Listen to others longer than we normally would.
● Ask follow up questions to clarify their positions.
● Walk away from a conversation without trying to make our own points.
● Seek to understand rather than be understood.
I have found that when I focus on understanding the other person first, they tend to be more open to what I have to say later. Humility, which we exercise when we make the conversation about them and not about us, builds trust and a two-way dialogue.
For me, the year 2020 has been an incredible period of learning in my life. My thoughts are different now than where they were a year ago. My determination to be right in the past kept me from learning from other people. By shutting up and spending more time focused on other people’s perspectives, I feel I am another step closer to being the humble Leader of Character I am called to be. I have not made it yet, but I am going to keep striving to do better. If I have to DO what I want to BE then I have to do what humble Leaders of Character do.
Dig Deep Questions:
● Whose perspective do you need to work harder to understand?
● What positive results can come from understanding their perspective?
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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