Humility – a Virtue Worth HavingMarch 21, 2020
There are two kinds of people in the world, and these people live on complete opposite sides of the social spectrum. The first kind of people have a fleeting influence over other people. They are often very strong and able people, but their strength is shallow. As a result, they struggle to exert influence over other people. The second kind of people have more of a subtle influence at first, but this influence slowly builds and grows stronger over time. The first kind of people operate from the place of pride and arrogance while the second kind of people operate from the place of humility, which is the subject of this post.
Before we discuss these two types of people in detail, let us do a quick self-analysis to determine which side of the social spectrum you belong. Ask yourself these questions:
- Do I act out of a sense of fear or from a place of gratitude?
- Do I typically like to take credit for things, or do I give credit to others?
- Do I always seek to be proven right, or am I comfortable with being wrong?
- Do I feel superior to other people or do I see others as my equals?
- Do I typically overshadow people, or do I allow them to take the spotlight?
- Do I often boast about my accomplishments, or do I prefer to talk about other people’s accomplishments?
Given your answers to the above questions, how do you feel you are influencing other people in social situations? How are you presenting yourself to the world, and how does this help or hinder the influence you have over the people in your life? The amount of influence we have over others depends on several factors. There is one factor that significantly impacts the level of influence you have on people. That factor comes down to whether you operate from a place of gratitude or fear; in other words, whether you operate from the place of humility or arrogance. Humility and arrogance operate on opposite sides of the influence spectrum. Both certainly hold some power. For one, that power is fleeting, while for the other, it is subtle but long-lasting.
The Proud People
Let us explore these two sides of the spectrum in a little detail. On one side of this spectrum, we have people who put themselves up on a pedestal above all others. These people appear to have an incredible amount of self-confidence. However, their self-confidence is nothing more than a trick, like that of a magician who uses carefully thought out illusions to convince others of the validity of their actions. This person shows confidence on the outside, but on the inside, they operate from a sense of insecurity or fear. They fear that sooner or later they will be caught; that their magic trick will no longer validate the person they project out to the world.
This type of people are arrogant, vain, self-centred and obnoxious. The self-confidence they project to the world might temporarily help them feel better about themselves, but this also comes at the expense of others because they feed off the energy of other people to raise their self-worth. All they do is talk about themselves and their achievements while making other people feel small and insignificant. They do this to hide their flaws and insecurities. This rubs people the wrong way. Many people see through this deceptive act and lose all respect for the individual. And when respect goes, influence goes as well.
The Humble People
The second type of people is the exact opposite of the first type. They are typically very genuine, polite, grateful, sincere, modest and calm. They do not put on any false act to inflate their ego at the expense of others. They are very authentic, open and transparent. They too have their insecurities and fears, but they don’t hide these parts of themselves from the world. They fully embrace who they are instead. And because they embrace themselves in this way, they can authentically present themselves to the world. And it is this genuineness that gives them power and influence over other people.
A humble person will often put others on a pedestal before themselves, and this is not because they are inferior, weak-minded or lacking in self-esteem, but because they clearly understand that raising others helps build their confidence. With greater self-confidence, they subsequently feel more empowered and worthy, and as a result, they become more trusting, receptive and open-minded. It effectively brings their guard down and gives them a greater amount of influence over their behaviour.
The Value and Virtues of Humility
The value of humility goes well beyond the fact that you will have a greater influence over people. Humility also inspires you to stay open and receptive to alternative perspectives and ideas. Moreover, it eases the pressure from your shoulders because you don’t need to put on an act to try to live up to lofty standards and expectations. As a result, you experience less stress and anxiety. Humility makes you feel better about your failures and mistakes because you are always open to learning from every experience.
Humility, however, requires a great deal of self-control. It is easy to flaunt your accomplishments and attributes to lift yourself above the pack. It is part of human nature to act in this manner. We see examples within the animal kingdom of how domination gains a primate influence and power over others. This is simply a part of nature. However, this form of domination is not a true influence and is often very fleeting. It is only when we work against human nature and utilize humility to its full effect that we begin to experience what it truly means to influence others.
Empirical research on humility shows that this trait has great value. Humility has been linked with better academic performance, job performance, and excellence in leadership. Humble people have better social relationships, avoid deception in their social interactions, and they tend to be forgiving, grateful, and co-operative. A recent set of studies also shows that humility is a consistent predictor of generosity. Humble people tend to be more generous with both their time and their money.
Humility can advance one’s fortune in life, as it is a distinguishing trait of CEOs of successful organizations. The connection between humility and generosity also shows that it renders one a more valuable member of society. Others see humble individuals as well-adjusted and kind. Given its appropriateness for us as limited and fallible human beings, and its value for both individual success and social well-being, humility is a virtue worth having.