Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Importance of Humility

If you were to ask the most people today what characteristics make most successful people succeed, you might hear a description of someone with vision, drive, calculated risk-taking, and a solid work ethic. And while these and other characteristics are important, I believe that there is one characteristic that is often overlooked and undervalued: humility.

What is Humility?
Humility is a fascinating concept, but sometimes it can be interpreted improperly to mean a low view of oneself. However, I prefer to see humility as a realistic view of oneself, one's strengths and weaknesses, and one's potential for success in life. In my experience, this realistic view is in fact extremely empowering. It helps us see how we can maximize our strengths and improve our weaknesses so that we can move forward toward our goals.

Humility and Confidence
But do humble people also have a lack of confidence? Does humility equal weakness? I answer emphatically that you can be both humble and confident at the same time. For example, I have set a goal to run a marathon this summer. However, I humbly recognize that I do not currently have the skills, strength, or endurance to reach that goal. (Remember, humility is a realistic view of oneself, not a low view of oneself). Despite this recognition that I do not currently have everything I need, I am confident that if I am willing to rely on the trainers books and blogs I am reading and humbly comply with the training schedule ahead of me, I will be able to complete the marathon.

So, you can simultaneously have both confidence and humility. In fact, I assert that the habits of humility are actually required for success. These habits, which I describe below, are the means through which success is actually accomplished.

What are the Habits of Humility? 
The most successful people in the world have used the habits of humility to drive them toward success in life.But what are the habits of humility? I will list here what I believe to be these habits:
  • Openness and respect - Successful people are aware that there are many views and ways of life, and they are respectful to others' view. 
  • Don't get distracted - Successful people are focused on worthwhile goals and have a sense of purpose. But they do not allow petty distractions such as pride or anger to keep them from their goals. They humbly see past those problems to the important goals at hand.
  • Gather data for decision-making -  Successful people are willing to admit that they don't have all the answers and that they need to gather knowledge so that they can make good decisions. This requires a sense of humility and willingness to seek more information to make sound decisions.
  • Listening to others - Successful people are willing to gather and rely on expertise from their peers and associates. They constantly learn from others so that they can make the best decisions and take the most appropriate actions.
  • Continuous learning - Successful people are aware of their own limited knowledge and are always learning and increasing their expertise. They recognize that there is infinite knowledge in the world, and that continuous learning is a habit of success.
Humility in Teaching and Instructional Design
I have found that the best teachers I have worked with in my life have been humble. They were willing to listen to me and my ideas. They listened to the students in the class and responded to their needs. And they were always learning and growing. I believe that the best teachers always adhere tot these habits of humility.

What do You Think?
Well, what do you think? Do you agree that these "habits of humility" are required for success? Are you willing to cultivate and live these habits?
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