Humility: The Catalyst of Growth

I’m not going to change myself for anybody.

I don’t have time to do that. 

I can figure it out myself. 

I don’t need anyone else. 

I’m perfect just the way I am. 

Things would work out if this person just did x. 

My relationships aren’t perfect but I don’t have to read books on the topic.

If everyone else would just do what I do. 

These are just a few thoughts that I’ve said to myself directly or indirectly in the past. I’m hoping that you’re somewhat like me and you can relate to these sentiments. Many of these thoughts that we have, while well-meaning when we tell ourselves them, can really be harmful to our long term growth. Why are these thoughts harmful? Let’s examine a few of them.

#1. I’m fine/perfect how I am. I don’t need to change – This is the biggest lie that prevents growth. Nobody is perfect, despite what Bruno Mars tells you.  Being satisfied with where we are in life is a sure way to eliminate a desire for growth. I’m not saying we should be discontent. We should always look back happily at the progress we’ve made. This is why I’m such a strong believer in tracking your growth. I wrote about the topic in my post You’re Improving: Prove it to Yourself!. That being said, growth should never end, and if you really care for someone, you should be willing to change who you are for them, and that includes changing for yourself. I’ve found that not intentionally growing actually leads to regression in my life.  This is why I’ve set a hard rule that I must listen to relationship books on the way home when I know that I will focused on my wife and children. If I do this, I noticed my attitude shifts from work mode to Dad/Husband mode. While I may enjoy another book more, I care enough to spend 20 minutes a day on being a better father and husband.

I’m not saying this to brag. I’m actually quite embarrassed to say that there have been times in my past that I was too arrogant to read or listen to anyone else. There have been countless times my wife asked me to read a relationship book with her, and I took it as an insult that she would even recommend that I would need to read a relationship book. Was I doing something terribly wrong that she’d ask me to read a relationship book? I know now that I was foolishly arrogant and that it was preventing growth in our relationship. Make sure you don’t make the same mistake I made, and be intentional in your relationships.

#2. I can do it myself/I don’t need anyone else – I used to say this all the time. Those who read, lack the creativity and problem solving to figure it out themselves. Boy, how arrogant was I. Sure, there are many things I did figure out myself, and that you can too. You and I both know that we also can learn much faster using the knowledge of the world around us to ensure we don’t make the same mistakes that others have already made. The only reason that we’re able to make as much progress we have made as a civilization is because we take the knowledge from previous generations and we expand upon it. Thinking we don’t need to do this is quite arrogant, and frankly stupid. Yes, I was very stupid just a few short years ago, and that stupidity was 100% caused by arrogance.

I have also been too proud to accept help from others in the past. Again, thinking I can do everything alone has been a painful mistake I’ve committed repeatedly due to my pride. If someone else offers to help, don’t be afraid to accept it, and return the favor if you can.  It will make life more enjoyable for both parties, and progress will be made much faster.

#3. It’s not my fault/It was out of my control/I don’t have time – This is the excuse making bucket. Blaming the fact that someone else screwed something up or that the world has just handed you a bad hand is a product of pride. At first it doesn’t seem that way, but what are we attempting to do when we make excuses? We are attempting to find ways to avoid blame.  Unfortunately I am just starting to learn that excuses are a result of pride, since it is my ego that is unwilling to be bruised by taking responsibility.

I recently read a book that focuses on the topic of taking responsibility for whatever happens, called Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin and it completely changed my perspective on responsibility. Essentially, it discusses how the only way we can improve our situation is by taking responsibility on the extreme level. Whether or not our manager is communicating clearly is our responsibility. Whether or not our direct reports are communicating clearly is our responsibility. It all falls under our umbrella. It is difficult to do this, because naturally, to protect our egos, we would like to blame someone else. We need to avoid doing this, because looking inward is the only way that we can truly grow. Coincidentally, looking inward is likely the best way to help others grow as well. Some people are able to be led by words, but almost everyone is willing to be led by actions.

 

These are just three areas that I believe a lack of humility has hindered my growth in the past. By having an awareness that humility is the reason why I have not seen as much growth as I would have liked, it has helped me advance very quickly in the last two years. As soon as I had the realization that my own pride was the reason why I had not pursued growth in all aspects in my life, I was able to counteract those harmful thoughts, and start a journey of humility and growth.

Don’t take this post the wrong way, I’m still not there and I won’t ever be. That’s the beauty of growth. There’s no ending point. That being said, I hope this post inspires you to swallow a little pride and start learning, growing, and being better for yourself and those around you.

Thanks for reading, and remember to demonstrate humility with a deep, open-minded, insatiable need to improve today!

Robert Krickeberg

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