The intriguing relationship between strength and humility

Far from being a weakness, humility is the necessary foundation for healthy self-respect that leads to the strength required to be a secure business leader.

First published on CEOWorld Magazine on 10 December 2018.

There was a time when strength in business was all about being clear about your goals, working hard to follow your plans and never admitting to any kind of uncertainty. But in the 21st-century marketplace, disruption and change is the new normal.

As leadership expert Jason Fox says, in his book How to Lead a Quest, any kind of ‘default thinking’, that is, the sense that we know what we are doing based on experience, can be a liability.

Many of the old models and rules are no longer working. It takes humility and courage to set out in new directions with a commitment to learning and working it out as we go, without being certain about the goal or the journey.

Humility requires courage

Brené Brown, bestselling author of Daring Greatly and Rising Strong, dedicated years of research to the concept of ‘vulnerability’. She argues that vulnerability is not a weakness but is instead an accurate measure of courage.

A similar case can be made for ‘humility’:

  • Humility leads to curiosity. The evidence of this is your capacity to ask great questions and to be interested in new ideas.
  • Humility leads to openness. The evidence of this is your capacity to listen and learn new ways of doing things.
  • Humility leads to collaboration. The evidence of this is your willingness and flexibility to build mutually beneficial partnerships.

Humility vs pride

Most high achievers are used to being self-reliant. The danger here is that we become too proud to ask for help when we really need it. When we are juggling so many aspects of life and work, such pride is limiting and even destructive. I know businesses, and marriages, that have failed simply because people were unwilling to ask for help.

We all have times when we need others. Smart people who build long-term sustainable success learn this lesson. Life is much better when we include other people to share the journey. If we can overcome our pride, and learn the lessons of humility, we can learn to find a new kind of strength.

Click here to read the full article including how to develop humility.

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