I recently wrote a piece titled, “Winning is Not Always the Measure of Defeat”. It dealt with having high expectations and situations not turning out the way you wanted or expected. I find myself writing on a similar topic, but really focusing on humility in the time of defeat. Last week was the final home game for Oklahoma State University (my Alma Mater). However, it was against University of Texas. Texas is my home state. So naturally there was some trash talk before the game. Well, my trash talk. Didn’t hear much from my family and friends. I think they knew better. It is better to talk trash after the game, not before it. I quickly realized that I messed up. We loss 28-7. The trash talk really began, but it was them, not me. I deserved it. I had to take a very humble approach and admit my defeat. It also made me think about the work and study I’ve done around humility. Let me share some insight into humility. An area of my life that I have personally been working on (not always my choice).
When people talk about leadership, they don’t use the word “humility” very often. More likely, they describe a leader as strong or focused or ambitious. They would probably say the leader is confident or assertive. “Humble” may not ever come up, and if it does, it might not be used as a compliment.
But I believe humility is a character trait that every leader should posses. Benjamin Franklin once said, “there is perhaps not one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive. Even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility.”
I think without humility, no real success is possible. You can’t lead people, without first being able to admit your mistakes. Most leaders have an abundance of ambition, talent, and confidence, but few possess the humility necessary to sustain influence over time. I’ve found that many leaders typically shun humility because they see it as a sign of weakness or self-doubt. Many feel they have to be right on everything. After all, they are in charge. I find my character and personality tends to go down this similar path. Personally and professionally, I find myself trying to maintain self-preservation (whole different topic) and feel if I admit fault that I might be viewed or perceived as a weak leader. However, I consistently find that is not the case. When I am sincerely humble, I find I gain respect, loyalty and wisdom.
How do you become a humble leader? Here are 5 things that bring about humility in a Leader.
- Responsibility – TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for your mistakes. Humble leaders readily accept responsibility for failure.
- Objectivity – In the words of Ezra Taft Benson, “Pride is concerned with who is right. Humility is concerned with what is right.” Humble leaders do not consider their own ideas and projects to be sacred.
- Open-Mindedness – BE OPEN!! Humble leaders have awareness of how much they don’t know.
- Inspiration – Humble leaders are appreciative people.
- Respect – Humble leaders see life as far bigger than themselves, and add value to other people by serving them.
C.S. Lewis said…………..”Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of your self less”.
I love this old story set in the Roman Empire times.
A general returning from a great victory in battle is greeted with great acclaim by the population of the city. They cheer for him as he travels in a grand procession through the streets, hailing him as a mighty warrior and leader. But the general, aware of his own weaknesses and wanting to be sure he doesn’t get too caught up in the celebration, asks a fellow soldier to do something to keep him humble. So as the procession winds through the city streets, this soldier’s one job is to crouch on the floor of the chariot, where only the general can see and hear him, and whisper, “You’re only a man. You’re only a man. You’re only a man….”
That general understood that he needed to avoid letting all the attention go to his head. He knew that by remaining humble, he would be able to keep growing and improving as a leader and warrior.
We should not be concerned about not who is right and who is wrong. Leadership is about influencing people. It is about adding value to them. When we become humble leaders, we are able to get through the muck and mire of everyday task and situation. We are able to put aside the “trash” talk and focus on what provides value to those we lead. Once this occurs, we are on the path to excellence.
Great leaders are humble leaders. Humility is a must in leadership…………NEVER FORGET THIS………………IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU!!…………IT REALLY ISN’T!!!!