“Most important of all, we should be teaching our children humility and curiosity. Being humble, here, means being aware of how difficult your instincts can make it to get the facts right. It means being realistic about the extent of your knowledge. It means being happy to say “I don’t know.” It also means, when you do have an opinion, being prepared to change it when you discover new facts. It is quite relaxing being humble, because it means you can stop feeling pressured to have a view about everything, and stop feeling you must be ready to defend your views all the time.”― Hans Rosling, Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About The World – And Why Things Are Better Than You Think
Last September I had the luck and honour to share for a week my lunch breaks with a great team of leaders and trainers. During the breaks, we talked about life, personal and professional challenges and the training itself. I was impressed by the humility of each one. They were highly experienced managers and yet, so down-to-earth and deferential. During the week I was able to observe their behaviours towards the participants of the training, their boss, peers, and collaborators. Not a single moment of arrogance or pride! On the contrary, genuine humility and open communication in all directions.
The etymology of the word humility goes back to the Latin word “humus”, that is, earth. Humble is the person that comes “from the earth”, that is grounded. Humility is considered by the majority as a virtue, awakening our consciousness of being a small part of this universe.
In leadership, the quality of being humble is priceless. H. Rosling in the above quote states many relieving aspects of being humble, from which we can learn daily. In my corporate years, too often I experienced big egos taking control of the stage and not questioning their point of view; while leaders with doubts and the awareness of “not knowing it all” stepped back and left the ground to these who had only certainties and thirst for power or visibility.
Humble leaders must be aware of the human nature of their doubts and step forward when opportunities arise for them to contribute. They need to be ready to move on, knowing that they can still improve, as their self-criticism and self-reflection are exactly what is needed not to crash against a wall and hurt people.
That is why, when I met a team of trainers that was excellent and humble at the same time, my soul knew I met leadership and I was inspired for months.
Which actions can you take in the next few days, to humbly inspire others?