We often think of humility as not talking about our accomplishments or downplaying our successes.
This is difficult to do because it isn’t natural. It feels false and inauthentic because it is. If the reality is that you did something well or successfully then why should you pretend you didn’t?
Humility is actually a powerful tool for success. But the above view point is too focused on how you appear to other people. That is certainly something to consider, but it has nothing to do with humility and prevents us from using it effectively.
Humility is not about other people, it is all about having a clear view of your own reality by avoiding the confusion brought about by attaching your ego and sense of self-worth to your achievements.
When we go from “I did that well” to “I have value because I did that well” then if it turns out we’re wrong or that we have further to go than we thought, it feels like a personal failure.
This results in us shying away from any evidence that could help us get better since it would imply that we are personally less worthy whenever we did not execute perfectly. It traps us in a false reality where we do no wrong and thus are not bad people. Two completely unrelated dimensions.
Humility is the path out of that ego trap.
This is because true humility is really about reality. It means not thinking you are doing better than you are but also not thinking you are doing worse. If you do well, acknowledge it, if you don’t, acknowledge the failure as an opportunity to grow and learn.
Humility allows us to examine another person’s performance without feeling bad that we have not achieved that level of success ourselves.
That performance becomes merely a neutral set of data from which you can choose bits to emulate and bits to avoid. Without humility, we are reluctant to ask for help or emulate others and thus lose out on a hugely effective source of information on how to improve
Humility is a way of generally delinking your ego from your performance. It allows you to judge your performance objectively and preserves your self-worth as an inherent quality unrelated to how well you do on this or that.
When you attach your ego to your successes, then you actually make your self-esteem vulnerable and conditional which makes you instinctually seek to protect yourself from anything that says you need to get better for fear of how it implies you are not worthy.
If instead you acknowledge your success but humbly avoid drifting into bragging about it you are authentically acknowledging reality and so not attaching feeling good about yourself to your accomplishments.
Then when your performance is not as good as you’d like, there is no impact to your inherent self-worth and you’re able to objectively acknowledge errors and identify how you can improve.
Humility is about having the self confidence to trust in your judgement of your actions, both good and bad. It allows you to trust yourself because you know that if you see evidence that you’re wrong you will correct yourself now that being wrong no longer feels like an attack.
True humility is actually about pure self-importance.
It is saying that because you have an inherent self-worth delinked from your achievements, you can admit that you don’t know something or that you made a mistake. It doesn’t say that you don’t make mistakes or are never wrong. It says that you have a fundamental worth independent of your mistakes and failures.
True humility is an incredibly liberating and powerful thing.
Practice true humility and you will achieve a baseline level of self-value that allows you to hold yourself accountable to yourself and thus fully engage with reality so you can achieve your potential within it.