Humility is foundational. Humble people have a strong sense of self and are truly authentic. Todd Davis, author of GET BETTER, asks you to think about the most humble people in your life.
Take a moment and consider the most humble person you know. Perhaps it is someone in your family or community, or someone you are currently working with or have worked with in the past, or even someone you’ve admired from afar. Now think of that person within the context of the fourteen practices outlined so far in this book:
- Wear Glasses That Work: Is their view of the world driven largely by external forces or by an internal compass?
- Carry Your Own Weather: Can they find calm, even in the midst of life’s storms?
- Behave Your Way to Credibility: Do they walk their talk?
- Play Your Roles Well: Do they tend to be authentic in what they say and do?
- See the Tree, Not Just the Seedling: Can they see beyond the now?
- Avoid the Pinball Syndrome: Are they good at resisting the temptation of the urgent?
- Think We, Not Me: Do they look for shared wins?
- Take Stock of Your Emotional Bank Accounts: Do they invest in others?
- Examine Your Real Motives: Are they motivated by uplifting rather than diminishing the human condition?
- Talk Less, Listen More: Do they seek first to understand rather than to reply?
- Get Your Volume Right: Do they find appropriate ways to draw upon their strengths?
- Extend Trust: Are they generous and wise when trusting others?
- Make It Safe to Tell the Truth: Do they allow you to feel comfortable being candid and transparent?
- Align Inputs With Outputs: Do their behaviors lead to the outcomes they want?
When I think about the people who have cultivated humility and made it an important part of their lives, it’s easy for me to answer yes to the majority, if not all, of the questions listed. Above all other character qualities, humility is foundational. It’s like salt—it brings out the best favor of each character quality required for creating effective relationships. The word itself comes from the Latin humilis, which literally means “low.” But it doesn’t express itself as weakness, fear, or timidity. In his book Humility: An Unlikely Biography of America’s Greatest Virtue, Dr. David Bobb writes that “In reality, humility is strength, not weakness. Humility enables courage and points wisdom in the right direction. It is the backbone of temperance, and it makes love possible.”
Those who are humble have a secure sense of self—their validation doesn’t come from something external, but is based on their true nature. To be humble means to shed one’s ego, because the authentic self is much greater than looking good, needing to have all the answers, or being recognized by one’s peers. As a result, those who have cultivated humility as an attribute have far greater energy to devote to others. They go from being consumed with themselves (an inner focus) to looking for ways to contribute and help others (an outer focus). Humility is the key to building solid character and strong, meaningful connections.
Learn to talk less.