Famous British poet Alfred Tennyson described humility as “the highest virtue, the mother of them all”.
Philosophers, great thinkers, sociologists, and preachers across regions and religions have always placed emphasis on humility as a virtue. As children, we were taught about the importance of having humility and kindness.
Indeed, being humble and kind never goes unnoticed and can have many long-term benefits.
The meaning of humility
Humility is the absence of pride and the ability to be down-to-earth and modest under all circumstances. Humility is exhibited by respectful behavior towards others. A humble person doesn’t think they are superior to others and is devoid of arrogance and self-praise.
Also, a humble person won’t seek favors in return for their support. Helping others and showing compassion comes naturally to them.
To be humble is also to be compassionate.
Let’s look at an example.
Rajiv, a manager in a hotel, is extremely popular at work. All his co-workers, from the upper management to the housekeeping staff, speak highly of him. He is punctual and always interacts with everyone with compassion and respect. Whether it is a colleague needing extra help with his work, personal advice, or new initiatives, Rajiv is fondly regarded as the go-to person.
At the same time, he is absolutely sincere about his professional responsibilities. He delivers consistently and proactively contributes to the organization’s growth. Rajiv’s humility has been instrumental in his success. His popularity can be attributed to his humility, and his humility is not in anticipation of favors from the people he helps, but is a way of life for him.
Another key aspect of being humble is the lack of prejudice in action. A humble person will help everyone, irrespective of whether the person is a close relation or a complete stranger. For instance, a humble person would allow an old woman standing behind them in a queue to proceed before them even though she may be a complete stranger.
Why does humility matter?
Humility, kindness, or gentle behavior are traits that are often considered old-fashioned. The hustle and bustle of our daily lives make us forget about these virtues.
But humility is relevant even today.
People don’t accord due importance to humility these days simply because the modern lifestyle doesn’t really instill trust among people. The common advice is to be careful and keep an eye on your rivals. This point of view supports the theory that one has to adopt a “no-ground-conceded” approach in dealing with others.
Self-praise and a stubborn attitude are commonly seen as essential to achieving life goals. All this is in contrast with the principle of humility. However, having humility doesn’t mean being timid or letting others trample over you. Being humble doesn’t imply that you become subservient or fail to assert yourself when needed.
In simpler terms, humility is giving respect and being dignified in your social behavior.
Let’s look at another example.
John is a brilliant student. His teachers, fellow students, and neighbors admire him for his helping nature and soft-spoken manners.
However, John is constantly bullied at school and at the local playground by Robin and his friends. They perceive John’s politeness and lack of aggression to be his weaknesses. Do you think John is a good example of humility and compassion?
No. Humility doesn’t discourage you from standing up for yourself or others who are being wronged. It is just a calm and objective way of expressing yourself without hostility.
A humble person can be assertive wherever needed. You don’t necessarily need to shout, shove, or swear to communicate your position on any matter. By being humble, you are merely acknowledging other people’s rights and allowing them to put their points of view across.
The importance of humility
Just because humility is primarily about being kind, generous, and polite, it is grossly under-rated in modern society. However, today’s strife-torn world and high-paced social and corporate lives can benefit the most from humility.
Being humble makes you more likeable and trustworthy, and it is conducive to learning. These are also traits that great personalities and leaders display. Legendary South African leader Nelson Mandela had once said, “Great peacemakers are all people of integrity, of honesty, but humility.”
Thus, humility has some profoundly transformational benefits that lead to great personal success and growth. Let’s take a look at some of these benefits:
In sport, some players perform their best at crucial junctures. The ability to turn a game on its head by displaying sheer brilliance are often hallmarks of a great player.
Ronaldo’s bicycle kicks, Roger Federer’s longevity, or Rahul Dravid’s wall-like defense are all examples of sporting brilliance.
Similarly, some business leaders are adept at innovation and cracking deals. Have you ever wondered what makes them do all this with such consistency?
The answer lies in their confidence. They believe in their ability to carry out their plans.
Confidence is the key to success. It helps you improve your performance, alleviate pressure, and stay focused. However, there is a fine line between confidence and overconfidence. When someone starts believing that she is the most powerful, capable, and intelligent person around, complacency begins to take over.
In other words, when one loses humility, she becomes overconfident and eventually an undesirable person. Hence, confidence and humility go hand-in-hand; they are not opposing traits.
By being ready to admit that you can be wrong at times, you don’t lose anything. Rather, you earn the trust of others and empower them to provide valuable inputs. This way you are not only able to get feedback which can help you become better at what you do but can also make others feel valued at the same time.
Humble people are not only more polite and considerate, but they also have stronger self-control as they know what they are doing at all times.
A humble person focuses on achieving personal goals and organizational targets,. Humility makes people better learners and thinkers. Humble people are capable of making decisions with greater agility and accuracy than others.
A humble person will not give in to the pressure. She will analyze the circumstances and focus on finding the best way forward for herself and others. Such an approach makes humble people know the extent of their capabilities and act accordingly.
A humble person is more likely to help others. Humble people do not cultivate an ego or remain guarded in their behavior. They are better team players. For them, success is not just about self-growth, but the growth of others as well.
Factors like social status, financial wellness, physical strength, or appearance don’t affect their behavior with others. They remain down-to-earth, modest, polite, and calm, even when they achieve great things in life.
Being rich, strong, or supremely talented are not the actual traits that make a person popular among colleagues, family, friends, and acquaintances. What makes someone stand out is their humility. A humble person comes across as a doer. They don’t like to be boastful about their abilities and instead keep a low profile.
This makes the person more relatable and reliable. They earn the trust and respect of their peers by virtue of their behavior and are not entitled.
Humility or being humble is a great virtue but is often misunderstood and mistaken to be a weakness.
Humility amplifies certain qualities. It brings to the fore abilities such as reliability, magnanimity, and generosity. It makes you kind and compassionate and helps in improving your social standing.
Harappa Education’s courses continuously endeavor to improve your interpersonal skills at the workplace to ensure your all-round growth. The Practicing Excellence course is focused on employees’ personal growth.
It will not only make you a highly respected and desirable person but will also contribute tremendously to your self-awareness and 360-degree growth.