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Why Do You Need Humility to Lead in Your 20’s?

Humility Definition: Believing and acting like “it’s not about me.”

Peter showed up for his interview with an impressive resume: great grades and a lot of extra-curricular activities that proved he was well rounded. For someone so young, he was impressive. I liked him right away and his confidence drew me in. Unfortunately, his confidence, or maybe I should say arrogance, was his downfall.

Peter showed his immaturity through his arrogance. When he began to struggle, as we all do when we start a new job, he made things worse by refusing to ask for help. He fought with and grabbed the spotlight away from his teammates. When he made a mistake, instead of owning up to it, he deflected the blame. He claimed to be a victim of things he could not control.

Even though Peter was smart, even though he had accomplished a lot in just 23 years of life, his pride was his downfall. Fortunately for him and for our team, he only lasted eighteen months before he did something that we could not fix, and he had to be let go. I say fortunately, because I hope he learned the lesson many people miss in life – “It’s not about me.”

We are in the middle of blog series directed specifically to people in their twenties and who are entering or have recently entered the workforce. Last month we discussed Courage – Why it’s important to develop now, how you develop it, and how exercising it now will ensure your success later. This month we will discuss Humility in the same way.

Most of our failures, our bad choices in life have two root causes – fear and/or pride. We all battle fear and pride. But pride and its antidote, Humility, are our focus this month.

What does pride look like when it becomes arrogance?

- Not asking for help.

- Not compromising.

- Not admitting mistakes or saying “I’m sorry.”

- Not listening to the ideas and opinions of others.

- Believing and acting like I have nothing to learn.

- Overusing first person pronouns like, “I, me, or my.”

Would you want to be on a team with someone who behaved that way? Would you want to follow someone like that? When I am speaking at colleges, medical schools, law enforcement agencies – basically anywhere people in their twenties congregate – I like to ask them, “Would you follow you?”

The mirror is perhaps the most underused leadership tool in a leader’s tool box. If we exercise Humility and look in the mirror, we will see what we need to work on. For many of us, it is Humility. Humility attracts people and pride chases them away. As you progress in your career, you will see plenty of examples of arrogant peers and leaders. Contrast those people with the people who model Humility. We define Humility as:

Believing and acting like “it’s not about me.”

Humility is a habit. Each time we choose to believe and act like “it’s not about me”, we are another step closer to making Humility a habit. Humility is a habit that we must all fight to build and maintain. If we want to defeat our pride, a root cause of most of our character failures, then we need to exercise Humility consistently in our day to day lives. When we do that, we will be on our way to becoming that Leader of Character that can say “Yes” when they look in the mirror and ask themselves, “Would you follow you?”


  • Who is the most humble leader you know?

  • What do they do to exercise Humility?

  • How does their Humility inspire others to follow them?


“Would you follow you?” That is a critical question we all need to ask ourselves if we want to become Leaders of Character. Research has proven that people want to follow character. But where is your character today? Here is a quick assessment that will take you 5 minutes to figure it out. Nobody will ever see your results but you. Warning: If you are not going to be honest with yourself this is a worthless assessment.

To take the assessment use the QR code above or go to

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