I did a Facebook post today about humility. Actually, it was a bit of a rant where I aired my frustration at people doing the first class flight selfies, of them drinking champagne and talking about how amazing their life is. I had 200 responses in a very short time, one hundred and ninety-nine people agreed, sharing my views on just how lacking in humility it is. One person said I was basically ignorant and rude (that person does the champagne photos).
I was blown away by the response. In fact, I started to get phone calls from other professional speakers, saying how glad they were that someone had finally raised this issue. In fact, I got emails, phone calls, messages - and they keep coming in, even as I write this article.
The one person who didn't like what I had to say, or perhaps the one person brave enough to say something, asked me what message I think these kinds of selfies send. This was my response;
"I think they lack any sense of humility, I think it alienates more than it engages, it has no purpose or sense of reason other than "look at me". Show me a picture of a speaker working their butt off at 3am preparing for a presentation the next day where they are hoping to inspire a room full of people and they are totally committed to serving that audience - that impresses me, that makes me admire them. The greatest speakers and true influencers that I know will NEVER be seen doing first class photos, especially on the way to a "gig", because they get it."
My point was simple. We admire humility as a human quality. And now that we all have access to the world via our own media platforms, we have the ability to broadcast great things and to do the same with not such great things. We can send the wrong message often without realizing it. In fact I'm sure the first class selfie drinking champagne, actually don't think they are sending a negative message at all, they are just celebrating something (not sure what) but it's not interpreted that way.
Humility is one of the greatest qualities of the truly successful person, regardless of what they do. Sure, we love confidence, but the two aren't mutual exclusive. You can be confident and humble and ideally, you are.
As we become more successful in whatever space or occupation we are in, surely we need to become more humble, not less. Every action we take sends a message to the people we are connected to and we better make sure it's the right message. Tolerance for arrogance is decreasing, we are sick of it with politicians, corporate leaders and instant gurus combined. We want people with substance teaching us, leading us, selling to us. But humility comes from within and not everyone has the humility gene.
The best way to understand this is to look at the Urban Dictionary meaning for humility - "True humility is to recognize your value and others value while looking up. It is to see there is far greater than ourself into who we can become, who others can become, and how much more we can do and be.
To be humble is to serve others and be for their good as well as your own. To be humble is to have a realistic appreciation of your great strengths, but also of your weaknesses."
Yep, from now on when I'm coaching, speaking, writing or trying to inspire and help others, I'm going to measure my own humility far more. And while you would never see a selfie of me guzzling champagne in first class, I'm going to work to be the most humble version of myself possible.
Fortunately, I've learned this lesson from working with some of the most incredible people on the planet. The one magnificent character trait they all share is humility. In the world of the weekend guru, where we see incredible arrogance at every turn and at the highest level of leadership, this has become more important than ever.