You’re staring at it. It’s looking back at you. It wants you to eat it, but you’re not sure that you want to. If you eat it, you may get sick…of yourself—for giving in, for not “winning,” for not being right. It’s not real food: it’s humble pie, and it’s hard to swallow.
I have experienced many circumstances where humility was hard to come by on my own; I struggle with my pride daily and constantly find myself asking that essential question, “Do you want to be right or do you want to be well?” There is no one particular instance in which you may “feel” more humble (and if you “feel” humble, you are probably doing it wrong). Instead, you become more humble by making many small everyday choices to combat your pride.
One of the keys to becoming a high-level, effective leader is humility. Too often, people think of humility as meekness, weakness, or cowardice. However, while some leaders may exhibit these qualities, humble leaders also may be bold and courageous in their relationships with others and their leadership styles. The Bible is full of examples of leaders who exemplified humility coupled with boldness. In fact, Jesus Himself was humble, always pointing people to the Father and not Himself, but yet, He was still very bold in all areas of His ministry. If He is our example, then we, too, must learn to be humble yet bold in our lives.
Learning to make pride-less decisions can be difficult at times, but here are three simple ways to infuse more humility into your life and leadership:
- Always keep learning. Learning can consist of taking courses, going to conferences, and reading—but in addition to learning more about yourself or your business/line of work, learn about others. Good leaders continue to learn about themselves; great leaders continue to learn about and for themselves as well as about and for those they lead. No matter what your title, be willing to admit that you do not know all the answers about everything and everyone. True humility says that we do not know everything and that we want to learn as much as we can.
- Apologize, apologize, apologize. The hardest thing I ever learned to do was to apologize when I was wrong. I could write an entire blog on apologizing (and I might)—what it is and is not and how to do it well. Great leaders know when they are wrong and will apologize. Pride keeps most people from apologizing, because often we feel shame or embarrassment at knowing that we were wrong about something. However, pride and humility cannot coexist! So take a deep breath, swallow your pride, and say “I’m sorry”—without defending or explaining yourself. And go one step further: if you have wronged someone, ask for their forgiveness as well.
- Authenticity is key. Humility and authenticity go hand in hand. People want to see the real you; they will be drawn to the real you more than they will to any other magnetic personality trait. They want to know who you really are, beyond your position or title. Hang around and share with those you lead—not just share your frustrations but your struggles and successes as well, and watch them relate to you in deeper, more meaningful ways.
Eating your slice of humble pie is hard work, but the rewards are better relationships and better skills to lead others in your home, work, and community.
What are some other ways you show humility in your daily life?