For those of us who are drawn to the pursuit of success, it’s common to look forward to the ego-boost that comes when we achieve our goals and other people notice. None of us are immune to that good feeling that comes when others admire the work we’ve done. The problem with striving for that ego-boost is that a lack of humility often gets in the way of success.
Too many people worry that having humility leads to people looking down on you. They’re afraid that they won’t get the respect from others that they hope for and this will inhibit success. This couldn’t be further from the truth, however, some of the most successful people to have ever lived were also some of the most humble. Here’s how humility helped them achieve their goals:
You’re Able to Count On Those Around You
Nelson Mandela had some of the most impactful accomplishments the world has ever seen. He was able to bring about the end of apartheid in South Africa, serve as president of South Africa, and create a charity focusing on combating poverty and HIV. Mandela was known for his ever-present humility.
Mandela once said, “Humility is one of the most important qualities which you must have, because if you make people realize that you are no threat to them, then people will embrace you.” Mandela understood better than anyone that no one can accomplish their goals alone. You’ll need help to achieve success.
The best way to find people who can help you accomplish your goals is to treat others with the utmost respect. Without humility, it’s difficult to find people who will remain loyal to you and your cause. While you may think your bravado will impress others, it will likely make them feel less connected to you. Skip the arrogant mannerisms and show the people you work with that you truly respect them.
“Have more humility. Remember you don’t know the limits of your own abilities. Successful or not, if you keep pushing beyond yourself, you will enrich your own life–and maybe even please a few strangers.” – A.L. Kennedy
Your Mind Is Always Open to New Ideas
Anyone hoping to achieve success must have an open mind. The path to success is not always simple or straightforward. It’s important to remain open to new ideas, so you can find innovative ways to reach your goals. Arrogance is often an obstacle to open-mindedness. Too many people are so certain they understand how to reach their goals, they don’t try any other creative options. This is a huge mistake.
It’s imperative that you have a sense of humility in your plans as you work towards a goal. You have to understand that you may need to course-correct at some point, and that is okay. It doesn’t mean you didn’t plan well; it simply means you are working towards a challenging and rewarding purpose.
Costas Polycarpou, founder of leading building management and construction company, Polyteck, spoke about this concept. Said Polycarpou, “When I started my company in 2005, we didn’t necessarily know how big it would become. We were hopeful we’d achieve success, but we knew we’d have to remain open to new ideas while expanding and seeking the best opportunities. This mindset helped us grow to current revenues in excess of 30 million pounds.”
You Think First About Your Goals — Not Yourself
Twentieth-Century British author, C.S. Lewis once wrote, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less.” A lot of us are caught in the habit of thinking about how others will perceive us and trying to control that perception.
When people learn to be humble, however, they free up a lot of time and energy because their thoughts aren’t taken up by this non-productive habit. With all that extra time and energy, you’ll be able to focus your thoughts on how to further your goals and solve any problems that arise along the way.
Problem-solving on the path to success takes creativity and complex thinking. You have to have a clear brain to do this, so don’t fill your mind with irrelevant thoughts centered on your ego. It’s likely that when you stop worrying about whether or not others see you the way you’d like to be seen, you’ll end up becoming more likable anyway.
You’re Able to Recognize When You’re Wrong
Although failure is a fear for many people when pursuing success, it’s actually an important part of the process. People often learn more from their failures than from their successes. Accepting failure and learning from it requires some humility, though. You must be able to admit you were wrong, in order to learn how to improve in the future.
Not being able to admit fault is one of the most common obstacles to get in the way of success. Humble people know that no one is perfect, though, and mistakes are inevitable. This allows these people to not only learn from mistakes but also act boldly to pursue new things.
If you are so afraid of people seeing you fail that you avoid ambitious pursuits, you’ll never be able to achieve ambitious things. You have to accept that sometimes people are going to see you get it wrong, but you’ll be able to try again until you get it right.