I’ve shared this quote about humility with various individuals and groups who invariably respond with laughter:
The really tough thing about humility is that you can’t brag about it. Gene Brown
The author apparently intended the quote to be funny. Most of all, it sheds light on the issue of whether a person can claim to be humble without creating doubts about whether it is actually true!
Clearly, it is generally best to have someone else say that we practice humility. For example, at several memorial services, attendees often praise the deceased person for his or her humility. In a job reference, an employer or co-worker will sometimes list humility among an employee’s positive traits. Yet, putting it on your resume may not be the best way to impress potential employers!
In contrast, at the opposite end of the spectrum is arrogance. A previous post, “Projecting Self-Confidence,” reported that psychologists tend to agree that arrogant individuals often have LOW self-esteem.
My personal belief is that many people who are humble probably have HIGH self-esteem. In fact, the literature indirectly supports this theory through these behavioral guidelines:
- Being self-confident is acceptable. However, it’s not acceptable to spend a lot of time bragging about what you have done.
- Giving credit to a team that has accomplished its goals is advisable. Promoting your own contributions isn’t advisable. Instead, let other team members describe how much you contributed to the outcome.
- Using humor to reveal some of your imperfections is healthy! People who are humble don’t take themselves too seriously. Learn to poke fun at yourself – like the comedians do!
Questions on Humility for Reflection
- Can someone be “too humble?” Does humility have any downside?
- Do you think that people can learn to be more humble? How might that happen?
Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. I learn as much from you as you do from me.