I’m about to share something potentially embarrassing with you. Last year, I took one of those strengths tests, which ranks twenty-four strengths from highest to lowest. The VIA Strengths test (I recommend it if you’re looking to get to know yourself better).
While I was pleased with what’s on the top of the list, things like honesty and forgiveness and fairness, I wasn’t happy with what I saw at the bottom. Humility.
And, as I shared in the blog article, On Humility: Busting the Myth of ‘My Own Two Hands‘, I’ve been thinking a lot about humility ever since. I’ve found lots of definitions for humility, but the one I’ve been working with is this: Humility is knowing you’re not better than anyone else, and not even aspiring to be better than anyone else. This last part is trickiest for me. I’ve discovered that there’s a fine line between having a calling to make an impact in the world and trying to set yourself above others.
In this article, I’ll share four steps that I’ve been taking to develop greater humility in the hopes that they’ll offer some inspiration to you, too.
First, practice self-awareness.
The most powerful step to habit change is noticing when the habit arises. I’ve become super attentive to the voice in my head that compares my work to others. In the last article, I wrote about the urge to create change single-handedly. By simply witnessing when you have an urge or attachment to set yourself apart, you begin to take power back from this habit and gain the ability to choose to engage from a new place.
Second, notice the voice in your head that says you’re not good enough.
Confidence and humility go hand in hand. To step away from the limelight, you need to feel okay being on the sidelines. And to be okay with playing a supportive role, the Judge in your head might need to quiet down. I love the Achiever side of my personality, but over the years, I’ve learned that a drive to achieve can arise from a feeling of not being good enough. Learning to quiet my inner Judge has been key to letting go of my attachment to achieve and become humbler.
Third, acknowledge the efforts of others.
Every day, I try to say thank you at least three times. By taking time to appreciate the efforts of other people, you can deepen your understanding of how interdependent we are. This may seem like a no-brainer, but I encourage you to get curious about how you might give more gratitude more to your co-conspirators, colleagues, and loved ones.
Fourth, invite collaboration.
As a single mom and self-employed person, I tend to do things on my own. I was always the kid in school who hated group projects because I didn’t want to have to take on the bulk of the work myself. But, the more I learn about movement-building and effective organizations, the more I realize the power of having multiple perspectives and the fact that many hands can make light work.
Before you take on a new project or engage in a next big step in your work, ask yourself—Who else? Who else may be affected? Who else might have wisdom or talent or passion that they’d like to contribute? Then, reach out to them and ask if they’d like to join you or if you can support them.
The myth of “my own two hands” is not working anymore. It never did. It’s time we get humble.