You before Me
What do our workplaces look like when we all practice humility?
Have you ever dealt with someone who is all about themselves? A person with an ego so big it barely fits through the front door, who thinks they are always the best, and that it’s their way or the highway. Someone who is easily offended and reacts poorly if things don’t go their way.
How about the opposite? Someone who is concerned for others before themselves. A person who is confident, but doesn’t need to be better than everyone else. Who actively listens before offering answers, puts the team before their own ideas, and rarely becomes offended or defensive.
As relational beings, we can figure out very quickly if the person we are dealing with is arrogant or humble.
Humility is defined as the freedom from pride or arrogance; a modest or low view of one's own importance.
We don’t see this word very often—it doesn’t show up in newsfeeds, advertisements, or social media. In today’s world of populist politics, it seems like a four-letter word. Humility can sometimes be mistaken for a lack of confidence. Some may suggest that those practicing it are either weak or false, or that they are really just hiding their arrogance. Humility is hard to describe and harder to do, but when you meet someone who is genuinely humble, who doesn’t stumble over their own importance and is concerned for others before themselves, you know it—you can feel it.
As author John Van Sloten put it, “There is something about embodying humility that frees you from being humiliated. Humility makes you a smaller target (there is less of you to be offended). It opens you up to a healthy understanding of your limits. . . . Humility keeps your expectations in line and is less offended by the thought of suffering for the sake of others.”
What do our workplaces look like when we have colleagues, supervisors, and CEOs who practice humility? Who put others before themselves, don’t easily get offended, or think their way is the only way. Who are willing to listen, to change their minds, and to help others even when it may not benefit themselves. When we work in those places, we quickly recognize the difference. We feel more engaged, and as a result, work better together as a team.
If you are a person who practices humility, your coworkers and workplace thank you. Even though they may not say it, they can feel it, and your workplace is a better place because of you.