I am a quote collector. I have pages and pages of quotes. I like how quotes are power packed with wisdom, particularly those that have stood the test of time. As I have collected many quotes over the years, the principle of humility stands out. I have found that some of the people I consider most wise, come back to this principle time and time again. These wise men and women understand the subtetly and power of humility.
A definition of humility I like is:
Humility is a psyco-social orientation characterized by 1) a sense of emotional autonomy, and 2) a freedom from the control of the “competitive reflex.”
What is competitive reflex? It is: the preconscious, visceral impulse to oppose or outdo others, or to auto-react against perceived threats to one’s established sense of self.
Albrecht explains that humility is not:
1. letting others “push you around.”
2. being a doormat, or letting people “walk all over you.”
3. constantly sacrificing your interests to those of others (and then feeling like a victim or martyr).
4. avoiding conflict or confrontation–not of you making, anyway–for the sake of ‘being nice.’
5. hiding your feelings or suppressing your views to avoid alienating others
It seems like many people underestimate humility. Interestingly, Stephen Covey believes, “Humility is truly the mother of all virtues. It makes us a vessel, a vehicle, an agent instead of ‘the source’ or the principal. It unleashes all other learning, all growth and process.”
Humility is about arriving at a place where you are comfortable and confident enough with yourself that you don’t have to put yourself above anyone else. You understand your value and you also see the intrinsic value in others. Humility comes with an acknowledged self-worth, that leads to an appreciation of the worth of others.
“A well-developed sense of humility shines through in your behavior toward others. They feel affirmed, appreciated, encouraged, validated, and psychically nourished. Most of us are drawn to people who treat us that way.”
Some of my favorite quotes are about humility. Here are just a few:
“I believe that the first test of a truly great man is in his humility” –John Ruskin
“Pride is concerned with who is right. Humility is concerned with what is right”–Ezra T. Benson
“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less”–C.S. Lewis
“The x-factor in great leadership is not personality; it’s humility”–Jim Collins
Albrecht, Karl. The Paradoxical Power of Humility. Psychology today.com
Branden, Nathaniel. Honoring the Self: Self-Esteem and Personal Transformation. New York: Bantam, 1985.