Does success require humility?
Are all successful people humble? Are all humble people successful? Ever even thought about this idea?
Before I share with you what I think are the important points regarding this concept;
Humility (Dictionary) - a modest or low view of one's own importance; humbleness. Or – modesty, weakness, humbleness or Unpretentiousness.
Agree with any or all of these?
I don’t always agree with the general dictionary definitions of words for a variety of reasons but let’s just say that these regarding humility tend to imply weakness and I have never viewed humility as a weakness but a strength. How about you?
Since this definition and your definition are a foundation for what follows we don’t have to be on the same page, but we do need to be open and receptive for a different viewpoint.
For me, humility is a sign of strength simply because it takes courage to demonstrate it in times of outside pressure from others, inside pressure for the need to fit in and belong and social pressure to not show weakness.
Keep in mind I am not referring to humility here as backing down, giving in, or any other form of consolation or concession when what you are standing for is right, noble or grounded in truth and or principle. I am not saying we should all give in no matter the circumstances. What I am suggesting is that the ability to stand strong without letting your ego, arrogance, supposed intelligence take over for whatever reason that demonstrates that we have the ability to accept failure, adversity or trials with patience, wisdom, and common sense. We have the ability to know when to fight back and when to let go of the need to stand strong.
OK, now that I hope I have that out of the way back to the title.
Is humility a part of or necessary for real success? Noticed I added the word “real” to the question.
Success – (Dictionary) the accomplishment of an aim or purpose. O.K. how about the self-help industry's definition – it’s the journey, not the destination. O.K. here’s mine – The direction (outcomes) in life you want to achieve and as the journey progresses you are accomplishing the desired and established benchmarks along the way.
Yes, there is more to success than my above definition but for the sake of brevity, I kept it short.
So, given the two definitions what is your answer to the above questions – Are all successful people humble? Are all humble people successful?
Let’s take the first one first.
During my global speaking career, I have known hundreds of successful people in a variety of industries and positions who were all extremely successful when it came to finance, reputation, power, and influence but lacked any degree of humility for any number of reasons.
And yes, I have also met many who had all of the above outcomes and traits and yes also had humility as a major portion of their personality and style.
So, from personal experience, the answer to the first question is – no.
What about the second question.
If I used the same criteria as above I get the same outcome. Some humble people are successful while some are not.
“So, Tim, what’s the point of this article. It would appear that humility is not a trait that needs to be considered to achieve success.”
Yes, you are right if you only consider the above traits I mentioned. But, what if we added; happiness, inner peace, contentment, a lifelong legacy and a few others - would the outcomes change dramatically.
Just because you have fame, power, influence and wealth can’t and should not (in my opinion) be the only factors when considering and defining success.
What about ethics and integrity? What about charity and generosity? What about spiritual values?
Want proof – hundreds of very successful people over the years according to the first set of criteria have – committed suicide, ended up in prison, spent years in mental institutions and ended their lives in pain, sadness, loss, and mockery.
Were they a success – sure. Was it worth it – who knows, or only time will tell.
Let me end this diatribe with a simple idea – as your life progresses would you rather have it end with fun, happy and wonderful memories or ones that caused you stress, pain, uncertainty and a loss of connection to those you loved or knew?
I’m not suggesting by any means that it isn’t possible to have all of the positives. So, decide – what do you want your path to be like – filled with all of the positives and negatives or just all of the positives?