Humility is really hard. One of my greatest flaws is that I like to be right. I know that everyone likes to be right but I REALLY REALLY like to be right; and more often than not, I think that I am. It’s one of the reasons I thought I wanted to go to law school. I know how to create really good arguments and I certainly know how to sound smart while doing so. I don’t just like to be good at things; I like to believe I am the best and I want others to believe it too. It’s one of my greatest assets; it’s always made me competitive in things I undertake. But it’s also obnoxious; it’s a weakness and it can be an obstruction to obtaining humility.
In practical terms, I think humility is an unappreciated virtue. in the first place, what is humility? Oftentimes, I think it is mistaken for being shy or docile, which is why it is not valued enough. But I don’t think humility is having a timid disposition. Someone once told me that humility is truth. Truth in the sense of representing one’s self in a manner than is accurate; being aware of one’s strengths as well as one’s weaknesses. Humility doesn’t just oppose arrogance, it opposes dishonesty. Humility gives us clarity to know that we are never beneath improvement but we must balance this with contentment and gratitude. And when we are humble, we always seek to serve others but are also prudent enough to allow ourselves to be served by others.
Far too often many of us either think of ourselves as more or better than we actually are. Or sometimes as less than we are too. Sometimes, depending on the subject matter we might even struggle with both. I think when we have humility we are able to see ourselves for who and what we really are. And this allows us to have both the confidence to make the most of our strengths as well as the prudence to accept our weaknesses and also learn to manage them the best way we can. Humility affords us the capacity to go beyond the passions of our ego and create a self that is authentic. When one has humility, there is need to put on airs or to be in need of validation from others.
Humility above all, however, makes one great. It makes one great because I think it gives people perspective to know that even when we do amazing things, we never accomplish them alone. Humility allows us to see that most of what we think of as achieved endeavors are things that though we may garner through effort, are also things that are given freely to us. Humility is greatness because it is rare. It is rare to really see ourselves as we are, while keeping perspective of what we aren’t; what we have worked for, and what we have been given. Humility is a great virtue but like any virtue it doesn’t come easily. So while we’re out in the world try to be all that we want to be, let’s pay attention to our humility because it can be the difference that makes us great.