“Personally, I rather look forward to a computer program winning the world chess championship. Humanity needs a lesson in humility.” — Richard Dawkins
What is your idea of the ideal man? What qualities does he possess? Maybe, in your mind, the ideal man is intentional. Maybe the ideal man is strong and/or smart. Maybe the ideal man is creative. Maybe the ideal man is wealthy and good looking. Maybe the ideal man never doubts himself.
If the profile of the ideal man includes humility, it might take the form of denying praise and notoriety. It could mean deferring and avoiding the spotlight. When most people think about a truly humble person, they think of the person who rarely speaks up, doesn’t talk about their skills or achievements, and works quietly behind the scenes. But these are not always descriptors of a humble person. It might be more like a humiliated person.
What Humble Really Looks Like
A truly humble person — a quality of any “ideal man” — would accurately be described as…confident.
This may not seem intuitive, but to be truly humble means to be thoroughly confident. There are intensely humble men who remain behind-the-scenes, but there are many who are front-and-center. A humble person would be so confident, in fact, that some people might take offense to them — and maybe not like them or trust them!
How can this be true? Quite simply, a truly humble man knows who he is and knows who he needs.
Knowing Who You Are
A humble man is committed to ongoing, radical self-awareness. He is exploring his fears, unhealthy tendencies, insecurities, pride, and foolishness so he can address them. But he is also seeking out his potential: what he is capable of, where he can be strong, and how he can add value to people’s lives. He is not looking for ways to feel better than other people, but he is not ignoring ways he can make people’s lives better. He knows what he has to offer so, when the opportunities arise, he can be the maximum benefit to the world around him.
Knowing Who You Need
A humble man is quick to listen, slow to speak, and constantly asking for help. A humble man is convinced he can only experience abundance in partnership with other people. A humble man doesn’t turn away assistance or wisdom. A humble man is assertive, decisive, and clear; but he is also curious, honest, and honoring. A humble man can lead a team, but he also seeks a counselor. He can blaze a trail and he can ask for forgiveness.
Let us briefly describe the humiliated man. (There is a difference). The humiliated man might have this experience because he has missed the mark and someone saw it. He was caught with food in his teeth or stumbling over his words or out punting his coverage. Anyone can be embarrassed by failing or being mocked.
But a humiliated man lives in a perpetual state of feigning humility for selfish or cowardly reasons. He deflects accolades because he needs to maintain some image of being selfless. He is “awww shucks” and amateur about what he’s up to in life because getting after something worthwhile takes courage and discipline — two qualities he lacks.
The ideal man constantly lives his life through the rubric of “What is the best help the real me can offer to this person?”, but he also models a life that asks for assistance and input. He is confident, knows who he is, demonstrates kindness, and asks good questions.
So, what might this look like in your life?
- Humility leverages strength. This is why it’s crucial to continue the practice of self-discovery. The more you know yourself and know what you’re capable of, the more you’re readily available to help or bring value to the world around you. Don’t get stuck in cycles of thinking too lowly of yourself. Think accurately about yourself and how you might light up the world around you.
- Humility delegates weakness. As you learn more about yourself, you’ll also discover the expansive opportunities there are to invite other people’s gifts into your life. You’ll know where you are mediocre at best. You’ll know what drains you. You’ll know where your efforts to help might actually do harm. You’ll save time and energy living in the “willing, but not really able” category. Plus, you’ll get to see other people shine and have chances to be generous.
From this moment forward, be humble. You need help, and we need you.