Humility Also Means Ignoring Input

Humility is a weird concept.  It’s easily associated with things like meekness, deferential behavior, lack of confidence, and wishy-washiness.  But these are not genuine humility.

Humility is the willingness to see yourself as you truly are.

Valuable humility is simply a recognition of your position in the vast universe.  It is a recognition of your identity separate from your roles or relative ranking to others.

Sometimes that means seeing that you are incorrect, and you’re not a big deal.

Of course, you’re not unimportant to you or those around you or even to the world.  But on the cosmic scene what you eat for breakfast isn’t a big deal.  Neither is who you’re dating or what you’re wearing.  But what’s especially unimportant is what others think of you.  Humility reminds you of this.

Sometimes humility means seeing that you are correct, and you are a big deal.

Humility is not about taking everyone else’s view of you seriously or trusting your own ideas less than others.  Paradoxically, that’s pride (in one of the few ways pride can be negative).  It’s pride because it’s concerned with how you appear to others.  It’s concerned with saving face.  It moves the locus of control and the definition of success from you to external forces and slavishly adapts to those.

Pride wants you to please everyone.  Pride wants you to come off looking good.  Pride always looks for an excuse to hide behind.  “I did it because I had to”, or, “I was giving my customers what they wanted”, or, “I was just following the expert’s advice”.

Humility recognizes that you might be wrong and look a fool, but it doesn’t care.  When you see that you’re not that important, being right or looking cool suddenly don’t much matter.

Humility recognizes that you’re sometimes right and other’s advice could be wrong.  It takes humility to ignore advice or common wisdom and do what you know to be true.  You’re exposed.  You have no fallback and no one to blame.

Humility is knowing who you are and owning it when it’s easy and when it’s not.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re practicing the virtue of humility because you’re denying yourself and your ideas and responding to everyone else’s.  That’s fear.

Be humble enough to see yourself as you truly are, both when you are right and when you are wrong.  Be humble enough to take advice when it’s good and ignore it when it’s not.