the face of humility

Posted on Friday.10.9.2009



If there’s one thing I’ve been learning the last month and a half it’s humility. I haven’t felt this kind of humility in my work since my first year of teaching. There’s a number of different factors that have contributed to the humility I’ve faced and to be honest, the initial feeling I had when met with humility, was to lose all confidence and quit.

Humility is fragile. It can either break you or the suffering it produces can build more hope. I admit right now I feel much more broken but maybe the hope is in the fact that I’m being humbled. Maybe I had been sitting in overconfidence and thinking better of myself than I ought to be.

I read two great posts this week on overconfidence:

Tim Schraeder’s blog post notes on Malcom Gladwell’s talk at Catalyst Conference 09:

Gladwell says that these are the signs of an overconfident leader –

  • Overconfidence is not arrogance.
  • All of us can become overconfident.
  • When we start to get good at something we start to belive we’re better than what we are.
  • Look for signs of it in everybody.
  • When people stop listening to those around them is when they start to become overconfident.
  • Humility is the ability and willingness to listen to others.
  • Leadership has to become collective after a certain point.
  • Organizations need to change.

John Baldoni wrote a post on the egotistical leader –

“Leaders need to have conviction about what they do; they need to love their work and the people who do it. That’s passion. By contrast, personalization is the conflation of ego and hubris; it causes a loss of focus because the executive puts what he wants to do ahead of what the company should do.”

Some questions I have:

  • So is humility something we need to seek? Or does it just come at the peak of overconfidence?
  • How do you keep yourself humble?
  • When you know you’re in a humbling situation or period of time, what do you do to keep from losing all confidence?
Posted in: vision