It seems to me that one of the hardest lessons for us to learn is humility, it is for me anyway, I watched the film “12 years a slave” last week, and there is one scene that is quite brutal where a young lady, who had been abused by her owner throughout was strapped to a post and whipped until her back had deep open wounds.
What I saw was my own flaws in the slave owner, I saw that under the right conditions, brought up in the home he grew up in, could I have ended up doing such things? I saw me in him and him in me.
I think humility is a deep sense of understanding of our flawed human nature, and subsequently knowing that this is the same for all of us, it cannot be escaped, only understood.
Some lessons in humility then:
To think I am better than someone else to discover the stark reality that I am not
To take advantage of another human being to make me feel powerful, to then have the tables turned and see my grave error
To take advantage of someone else’s situation for my own ends, only to see my shear selfishness later on
To assume that something I have attained, earned, or purchased makes me better than someone else
The more I learn and grow the more I realise just how much I have to learn, paradoxically there is great peace to be had from accepting our innate ignorance
Take a look at these lessons – these are the kind of lessons the slave “owners” may well have gone through themselves, to take absolute full advantage of another human beings position, to abuse it in the highest regard, in order to learn he had no right to do so, in order to be left alone, to tender his entire farm by himself and to die with the memories of what he did.
But here is the catch – we cannot really learn humility with depth without being flawed ourselves, we cannot learn humility without seeing our own innate weaknesses.
Those with real humility also have deep compassion for all of human kind, they forgive others for their ignorance, because they recognise their own ignorance and flawed nature.
What consequence does this have for us today and in our workplace?
Allot actually – as we learn to look for and see our own mistakes, bad behaviour, bad choices, shear irresponsibility, and selfishness it humbles us, it teaches us not to be so self righteous, not to condemn and judge but to look at others with compassion and understanding.
So when one of your team does something profoundly stupid, when they behave in destructive ways, when they lie, and cheat, when they cover things up and manipulate for their own ends you would look at them through new eyes, as if you had been re-born, and you know what – they will FEEL that, when they come to you, mistaken and stupid, and you accept them simply for being human, you offer them a gift, a beautiful gift, you offer them a chance to be human, flawed, stupid, and accepted for who they really are, not who they pretend to be, and a chance to change, to learn and to grow
When you let your people be human and learn about then admit their mistakes openly something incredible happens, they begin to walk together with a sense of kinship you could never imagine
When we suppress the bad, through shame or ignorance we compromise the good, however when we can be ALL that we are we can be truly at our best, therefore you unlock all the things that make your people great, creativity, fun, joy, compassion, innovation, determination, and actually, their flaws by accepting all of them not just the good bits
We are making mistakes ALL the time, this stuff isn’t about waiting for your performance review, it’s about learning and growing each and every day, at the coffee machine, over lunch, and certainly when you get home
This is the beating heart that drives REAL engagement in your teams
If you want to develop and empower your team in profound ways, if you want to be the change, then take action and get in touch