Sometime in the last one year, 11 months ago in actual fact, I discussed how it is no truly successful person in today’s world wants to be associated with the word ‘humble’.
The problem? The word humility was coined at a time during which formal education systems and labor markets had yet to be what they are today. In those days, you could not say you graduated Summa Cum Laude (Amerian system) or with First Class Honors (British system) from a Baccalaureate program. You could not say you had a Masters or a PhD. In work terms, you could not say you had raised US$30 million of Series A financing in attempts at raising an additional US$10 million. If humility is interpreted in its common definitional usage, all of the differentiation (graduation honors, levels of education, and objectively verifiable work achievements) enabled by objective third party attestations (universities or colleges) or interactions (raising of capital from investors) become useless, non-usable.
Quite the contrary, and in ancient times, you could compare the size of your farm with that of your neighbor. That, however, would be in bad taste especially if the difference in size merely was a function of inheritance. Humility meant you refrained from such a comparison because the difference in size of farms was obvious to the eye.
In the post referenced, I advocated relegation of the word humility to museum of English words, advocated a different term, ‘true humility’ as substitute for ‘humility’ with true humility defined to be:
True humility is believing you have yet to attain to the best you can be. True humility is the opium of people who attain to true greatness in life.
What I did not do in the prior story is define ‘false humility’. I took it for granted that having discussed how it is the word humility now is out of consonance with reality, it is sufficient to substitute true humility for humility. I have come to realize, however, that it is important to delineate false humility, the converse of true humility from outdated meaning and usage of the word humility.
So then, if humility can be false or true, or just its outdated self, what exactly is false humility?
False humility can self abnegate, yet treat others badly. False humility can be cheerful in greeting, yet stab in the back. False humility treats colleagues right whenever in position of ascendancy, becomes vicious if losing out in any ‘perceived’ competition. False humility can choose to dress drab, yet envy the person who dresses well.
False humility treats others right only if treating others right feels like benevolence.
Given true humility always strives to be better, marks progress to itself as opposed to others, true humility never conditions treatment of others on any sort of ascendancy. In context of true humility there never is any ascendancy over others, only progress and prosperity, and getting better in every way possible.
Does true humility imply a boss never acts like a boss? Absolutely not. But a truly humble boss acts like a boss not because he or she wants to boss people around, but because he or she has responsibilities, achievement of which require authority for telling people what he or she wants done. If bosses are to take the fall when things go south, they must have authority to tell people what it is they want done, else taking of the fall is unjust. Truly humble bosses have input into how things get done, yet rely on expertise of reporting colleagues for design of how things get done.
More of true humility and less of either of humility or false humility in homes, at work, at leisure, in organized communities, in government, in society at large? Guaranteed to make this world in which we live a much better place.