In an age of social media where everyone is constantly trying to show others how great their life is, humility is often an overlooked trait on the path to personal development and success. A lot of people confuse humility with low self-esteem and low confidence, but those who are humble are often the complete opposite. Humility is often a trait associated with those who actually have high self-esteem and high confidence. The reason for this is simple, by being secure in yourself and your achievements, you do not need to put on a show to impress others. You also understand that even if you are Bill Gates you still have to wait in line for your burger.

Success doesn’t mean you are infallible

Bill Gates once said that “Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose”. The simple reality is that there is always someone who is going to know something you do not know. This will be true regardless of your seniority and level of expertise. Bill Gates is obviously one of the richest and most successful people on the planet, but he likely doesn’t know as much about marine biology as an undergraduate currently studying it at university for example. A plumber will know more than him in regard to why his bathtub is draining more slowly. And dozens more people he interacts with everyday will know other things that he does not. Just because he is Bill Gates, does not mean that he has the right to talk down to others. Although of course, if he starts speaking about how to run a multi-billion-dollar business you should pay attention. But just because he has more knowledge in that area does not mean he is better than another person as they will have more knowledge in another area. In order to continue growing and developing it is important to remember that there is always something you do not know that another person does, regardless of your position in life.


One of the easiest ways to cultivate humility is simply by listening to others and actively soliciting feedback. You may feel like you know something, but it never hurts to get another opinion. In fact, many of the frustrations from regular employees in the workplace is that management makes a decision that they think will fix a problem, but actually completely misunderstand what the issue is. A low ranking employee may not be as senior, or an industry expert, but they are doing their job everyday and will be clear on what their pain points are a lot more than what the data in a management report indicates. If someone tells you that you are wrong, it is always worth taking a few minutes to listen to an opposing view. You can then judge on its merits the facts once they are presented. It should not matter the rank of the person presenting them, because if the facts make sense, you have an opportunity to make a better decision.

Ask for help

While those at the top of a hierarchy can often hurt themselves through lack of humility by assuming, they know everything. There is another way a lack of humility hurts those who are further down the ranks and looking to ascend. This is those who do not ask for help, because they have too much pride and do not want others to think that they do not know what they are doing. As a result, they end up stagnating professionally as they do not grow because they do not try anything new as they do not know how to do anything else and refuse to ask for help. It is Ok to not know everything, and one of the best ways to learn something new is to ask. Curiosity is seen as a leading sign of intelligence because those who are naturally curious will asks questions so that they gain new information. Pride and ego prevent someone from doing this, whereas those who are humble and understand that they do not know everything have no problem in asking for help. They then learn something new and can then grow.

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