“There is no respect for others without humility in one’s self.” ~Henri Frederic Amiel

Several weeks ago, in response to the below featured article, a reader sent me a note. He asked me some very intelligent questions. As I pondered the answer to the questions, I found them very revealing, and for this week, I want to share with you those well-thought out questions and my responses.

Featured Link: Everyone a leader! But not without this!

We should all ask these questions ourselves. Here they are:

  • How do I know I am actually humble, possessing humility?
  • How do know I have sufficient humility?
  • By what means to I assess my improvement, or growth, in humility?
  • How can I compare my humility with the humility of others?

Let me take a few lines to give you my thoughts. The answers reveal a life-long quest for personal excellence.

  1. How do I know I am actually humble, possessing humility?

Our own disposition towards service is telling about our humility. One has to ask the following question to gain our inner insight on the matter: Do I have a tendency to serve, or do I tend to think that given my status, I should be served? There is a clear distinction between these two points. The best of leaders (the one who has earned the credibility and respect of his/her people) has a pre-disposition to serve. In other words, this type of leader sees himself/herself FIRST as one who is there to assist and help others.

One more indicator of our humility is our own pre-disposition to learn. For example, if you’re a subject-matter expert in an area, put yourself in a situation at work where someone is briefing about one of your topics of expertise. How do you react to that? Do you feel you begin to swell and almost tell yourself how much more you know about the subject than the person who’s speaking? Or do you engage in the conversation and sincerely seek to learn from that person? The questions infer that there are two kinds of people. And I believe that is correct. One of them is self-assured, intelligent, and wise. Therefore, he is able to empty himself. He can also fill himself, but his sense of pride comes from, not a comparison to another, but from gratitude. The other is too self-consumed, insecure, and defensive. No one can teach him anything. A miracle is needed in his life.

  1. How do know I have sufficient humility?

My first inclination is to point to the answer to question #1. Yes, that’s a good start. But let me add a few more words here. If you can be teachable, you possess a good dose of humility. To learn is to empty oneself of pride and to accept another as a master so one can create the space for personal growth. Although we take for granted learning, when one thinks deeply, one can see a lot of psychological processes take place to make learning happen. Among many things, first, one must acknowledge that I am not all-knowing and that I may have some deficiencies. Secondly, there must be a sincere desire inside of me to satisfy a need to be better. To long to be better as a person is to be alive, to live a life of excellence. Third, I have to humble myself and be curious about others. Next, I have to fill myself with gratitude (sometimes a spontaneous instinct) for the opportunity to learn from another. It’s a gift!

If you can be adaptable, you’re not also intelligent but also practice humility. In my most recent book, I wrote a chapter called “Critiquing the Boss is Critiquing Yourself.” The point of the short chapter is to show that a person who can adapt displays tremendous sense for authentic leadership in that this person serves another with purpose. Instead of critiquing a person, the authentic leader seeks to understand the concerns of another in order to be able to influence, shape decisions, and produce results. In other words, if you can be adaptable, you possess humility (and you will be respected for it).

  1. By what means to I assess my improvement, or growth, in humility?

This is an amazing question. First, one has to search for feedback from within and gain awareness about how one reacts to what happens in our environment. Some people use several exercises to assess growth. For example, on Sunday I go back in my mind (just as if I could be in third person and watch over my actions) and explore my interactions with others. How did I react to the difficult situations? When I overreacted, why did I? This is a good opportunity to explore values, ego, and motives. Was I defensive and why? It’s not a bad thing to be defensive, but one must understand why. If ego was in the way, then that’s an opportunity to assess and be more conscious of own auto-responses. Additionally, as you go through that exercise, return to previous memories and understand how have you reacted in comparison to the past. And one important factor, seek feedback from those closest to you. They’ll tell you.

  1. How can I compare my humility with the humility of others?

Don’t. Your focus should be in the improvement of self. Comparisons do terrible things to us as human beings. Set your standard of what a great servant leader should be, what a great leader should be, and measure yourself against that standard.

Humility is of such importance in our lives. Think about all the times we could have been more humble and the effects this could have made in relationships with co-workers, parents, and children. This is a journey. Humility is strength, love, and intelligence. Be GREAT!

Always motivated, lugo

Copyright©2016 Jose A. LugoSantiago – Craft Your Journey!