May 29, 2007

What Is Humility?

published this at 11:10 am

PERSONAL IDENTITY

Can we talk about . . .

humility.

Once when I was about eight, I saw this sentence written in an open space on a church bulletin.

The funny thing about humility is the second you think you have it, you don’t.

Obviously that sentence stayed with me. I revisit it often. I still see it. The original had been typed on the master sheet by a manual typewriter. As I reflect on the image, the sentence itself looks humble compared to what we look at now.

This morning, Karin and I talked about the meaning of humility, which started me thinking again.

I reflect on one idea every time I encounter that word humility It’s been the same since the day I first saw that sentence.

We get ourselves into weird shapes and strange configurations chasing after humility.

Humility is the recluse star of the virtues. It starts with the same H as halo.

What Humility Is Not

I can tell you what I know about humility. Then maybe you’ll tell me more. That would be useful, because the elusiveness of humility means we know more about what it is not than we do about what it is.

In fact, what humility is not is a good place to start. Humility is the absence of many things that we can do without.

Humility is not about deprivation. Humility is about more, not less. A humble heart gives more, has more room, sees more good, and is more generous.

Humility doesn’t make itself less. It doesn’t think of itself at all. So less cannot happen.

Humility does not bring itself down. It raises others up higher yet. A humble heart can hold up a chin. For a heart to do less would be to devalue everyone. Humility is about giving value, not taking it away.

Humility is not false. It doesn’t pretend to something it’s not. It doesn’t deny the truth about what is good. A star needs to shine fully bright to remain a star. A humble star knows that shining is what it does well and is generous with its light. Falsehoods in any form, are not humility. They are a denial of the truth, that’s something else.

What Is Humility?

Humility is without guile. It needs no plot, no plan. It has no needs at all.

Humility is not about me. It doesn’t make me bigger or smaller. It’s about everyone else. We don’t know when we have it, because when we look at ourselves, it is gone.

–ME “Liz” Strauss

Related
Change the World: Truth and Humility

Filed under Motivation, Personal Branding, Successful Blog | 118 Comments »


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118 Comments to “What Is Humility?”

  1. May 29th, 2007 at 1:50 pm
    John Benage said

    And, humility starts with the same “h” as happiness.

    It is the joy of knowing that whatever you do, it is only part of the greater good.

    It is the peace of one who is at rest with the company and hearts of others.

    Humility is at once the solitude of self in harmony with the universe.

    As Albert Einstein once said, “The more I learn, the more I realize how much I do not know.

  2. May 29th, 2007 at 1:52 pm
    ME Strauss said

    Oh John!
    What a gift that comment is. It’s almost poetry. Thank you for that. :)

  3. May 29th, 2007 at 2:03 pm
    John Benage said

    But Liz, your initiating thoughts inspire such responses.

    THANK YOU!

  4. May 29th, 2007 at 2:10 pm
    ME Strauss said

    Oh yeah, John,
    go ahead, blame it on me. :)

  5. May 29th, 2007 at 2:20 pm
    John Benage said

    Ah, “blame”…another great word.

    As I used to tell my students when they would say, “It’s all you’re fault”,

    ‘I will accept all of the blame but none of the responsibility.’

  6. May 29th, 2007 at 2:21 pm
    John Benage said

    oops — wrong word use again…should have been ‘your’ instead of ‘you’re’

  7. May 29th, 2007 at 2:23 pm
    ME Strauss said

    Oh we have total forgiveness of spelling errors in the comment box here.

    Meanwhile, I’ll be responsible, if you take the blame. Works for me. :)

  8. May 29th, 2007 at 3:13 pm
    Billy said

    “Humility is not about me. It doesn’t make me bigger or smaller. It’s about everyone else.” This quote sums up humility perfectly. It is not about me about about you. A humble person understands everything is on loan and can be taken away from us in a heart beat. They take what they have been granted and use it to lift others up and leave the world better than it was when they left.

    How do you strive for humility?

    Billy

  9. May 29th, 2007 at 3:30 pm
    John Benage said

    DONE.

  10. May 29th, 2007 at 3:34 pm
    ME Strauss said

    cool!

  11. May 29th, 2007 at 3:52 pm
    ME Strauss said

    Hi Billy,
    I don’t think a lot about humility. I try to think about other folks always and try to always make room for them.

  12. May 29th, 2007 at 3:53 pm
    ann michael said

    Ah – Billy – striving for humility – what an interesting phrase! Striving for humility guarantees its elusiveness!

    What irony!

  13. May 29th, 2007 at 4:43 pm
    ME Strauss said

    Hi Ann,
    You’ve been hanging with the copyeditors :)

    Billy, Ann’s got a big smiley behind what she’s saying there. She’s a mom, just like I am. :)

  14. May 29th, 2007 at 4:57 pm
    Brad K. said

    For me, humility is ‘not pride’. And I think one of your dualities is mis-aimed, ‘It raises others up higher yet’ seems to be outside the scope of humility.

    Pride relates to possession, specifically status with regard to possession. You strive to gain something, status, an object, wealth, a ‘hot’ date. Then you are proud of your achievement, or your worth, or your status. And you defend what you have.

    A humble person would not hang onto possessions, regard, status overmuch. Would not find much worth defending, except probably others. Humble would be about ‘sufficient’. “This restaurant is good,” might be humble, compared to “That is the best restaurant I/you can find!” Sufficient food for the next meal would be sufficient, regardless of quality or whether there will be food for the next meal. Humility is about accepting and being content, with preventing working toward health, security, and future goals.

    The church has long confused humble with submission and dedication solely to the church and tenets of faith. The humble might well have faith, but they would have no need of any aspect of ‘glory’ or grandeur (in buildings, rituals, or church appointments) in this life. On the obscured by passions about pride. On the other, the churches have long and torrid histories tied to the comic’s line, ‘Give till it hurts.’

    Striving for humility is different from claiming to be humble. For instance, one early stage in learning to meditate involves clearing away thoughts, to create a peaceful interlude of mental quiet. Like working toward humility, if you get there, you have no need to state it or consider it an accomplishment. It is something to enjoy, a personal joy. You cannot achieve inner ‘quiet’ while stating ‘I got it!’ — one overcomes the other, as pride would overcome the humility.

  15. May 29th, 2007 at 5:00 pm
    Brad K. said

    Oops! That should have been ‘while not preventing work’, not ‘with preventing working’

  16. May 29th, 2007 at 5:21 pm
    ME Strauss said

    Hi Brad!
    Welcome. Thank you for sharing so much of your insight and learning about humility. I love most your last paragraph which sounds of hope and authenticity. Not to say the others don’t. . . . but I felt a sadness when reading, as if humility meant not to be able to enjoy or appreciate beauty.

    I do disagree on the duality. I think it’s a natural effect of a humble spirit to raise others up. To me, humility is a form of unconditional love.

  17. May 29th, 2007 at 5:29 pm
    Billy said

    Liz

    “I don’t think a lot about humility. I try to think about other folks always and try to always make room for them.”

    Isn’t that in essence striving for humility? It is almost a parodox to strive to be humble because it isnt humble to go after something. But how do you change if you do not reach for a goal like to be humble?

    It is not your role to judge when you are humble, but you should strive for it, or you should strive to put others first. :)

  18. May 29th, 2007 at 6:35 pm
    ME Strauss said

    Hi Billy!
    What wonderful questions you brought back. Yeah. Or is the whole question one of semantics?

    In the final assessment, we need to know that other folks are important. If we keep our minds away from ourselves, we’ll have room growth in so many ways.

  19. May 29th, 2007 at 6:56 pm
    John Benage said

    The illusive “h” twins have still more in common:

    Both happiness and humility illude the active seeker.

    They play upon the selfish heart to say “you can’t find either”.

    While the secret to such a find is to understand them further–

    The truth you see…they are Siamese…with one comes with the other.

  20. May 29th, 2007 at 7:04 pm
    ME Strauss said

    John,
    You seem to know a lot about this subject in both insight and meter.

    Thank you for the time it took to do that. :)

  21. May 29th, 2007 at 8:14 pm
    John Benage said

    This is just great fun! They are my thoughts which is they way I write…polished a bit for the world to see of course.

    Enjoy the evening.

  22. May 29th, 2007 at 8:18 pm
    ME Strauss said

    Well done, John! Thanks for being around here. :)

  23. May 30th, 2007 at 5:09 am
    Kathiroly Raj said

    Humility doesn’t come easy. Sometimes we can see it in the eyes of those who can understand the pain and suffering of others. They are those who have suffered in their own life and have learned what love is all about. Someone who is humble is someone who is filled with the love of God in him / her. Once we experience God’s love, we are bound to be humble, for we realize the true value of life for what it is. It takes real experience. In a nutshell, humility is the key to heaven.

  24. May 30th, 2007 at 5:49 am
    Karin H. said

    Thanks for this, Liz. (and sorry I’m late)
    Humility is a gift, not scares though, but hard to find.

    Humility is about accepting and being content, while not preventing working toward health, security, and future goals.

    Sorry Brad K, in ‘my book’ humility is all about giving, not accepting.

    Karin H.

  25. May 30th, 2007 at 5:57 am
    ME Strauss said

    Hi Karen,
    Thank you for saying that. Accepting!! That’s the word that was making me uncomfortable!

    Accepting is passive or feels that way to me in this context. How Brad’s description changes when that word becomes letting go or opening up to . Which could be exactly what Brad meant.

    It’s me putting my connotations on the word accepting, but I just heard inside it shades of giving up, offering up, penance, . . . That’s what was bothering me about the middle paragraphs.

    Isn’t that interesting what I was putting on his words?

  26. May 30th, 2007 at 6:21 am
    Karin H. said

    Hi Liz

    Must be my double Dutch English, but when I read “humility is accepting” I ‘read’: taking, not giving ;-)
    And accepting is passive while giving is active, both for giver as receiver.

    Karin H.

  27. May 30th, 2007 at 6:29 am
    ME Strauss said

    Hi Karin,
    The words. the words.

    We’re using the same ones and they are meaning such different things.

    I agree with you and yet I cannot use your words to say so. I’ll be thinking about this for days. :)

  28. May 30th, 2007 at 6:35 am
    Karin H. said

    Poor you ;-)

    A humble star knows that shining is what it does well and is generous with its light.

    and John’s

    It is the peace of one who is at rest with the company and hearts of others.

    are the sentences I will hear forever when I think of my special dear and humble friend.
    Thank you both for this.

    Side-note (other words come in my mind now): what about that end sentence you see on some letters: “your humble servant”?
    Can’t be right, can it? (Doesn’t feel right to me anyway)

    Karin H.

  29. May 30th, 2007 at 6:40 am
    ME Strauss said

    Hi Karin!
    Thank you. I’m going to do something with those sentences you chose — because you said so.

    That phrase “your humble servant,” has always bothered me. I’ve always heard flattery and ego. Now that you bring it up, I know why . . . because were I truly “your humble servant,” I would not look for an opportunity to tell you so.

    And again, I thank you for teaching me. :)

  30. May 30th, 2007 at 6:44 am
    Karin H. said

    Liz, not because I said so I hope.

    Glad you agree with that strange unhumble sentence. That brings us right back to where you started:
    The funny thing about humility is the second you think you have it, you don’t.

    Karin H.

  31. May 30th, 2007 at 7:04 am
    ME Strauss said

    Yeah, Karin.
    It does, doesn’t it.

    And yes, because you said so . . . and what you said was wise.

  32. May 30th, 2007 at 7:17 am
    Karin H. said

    ;-)

    What’s so wise about distilling other’s beautiful sentences?

  33. May 30th, 2007 at 7:17 am
    zakman said

    Way back in the ’90′s, when VHS tapes were in vogue, Blockbuster Video used to lay a penalty of of 50 cents if you return a cassette tape that is not rewound.

    (Their slogan used to be: “To play is human, to rewind is divine.”)

    Fear of the fine apart, if one rewinds a tape just and only because it’s the RIGHT THING to do, I think that could be considered humility.

    ???

  34. May 30th, 2007 at 7:22 am
    ME Strauss said

    Ah, isnt’ that funny? We can see wisdom in other folks’ words but not our own.

    Read your question. Pretend I wrote it.

    Does your answer sound something like this . . . the ability to find meaning, the ability to listen, connect, and translate so that understanding is certain. It takes a wise soul to internalize another’s thoughts and restate them in a single sentence beautifully.

    I know. You know. It’s what a humble star does — generously shines its light . . .

  35. May 30th, 2007 at 7:34 am
    ME Strauss said

    Hi Kathiroly Raj Welcome, my apologies that you were stuck in moderation. I didn’t get there until this moment. I’m obviously doing things in the wrong order this morning.

    Humility doesn’t come easy. Sometimes we can see it in the eyes of those who can understand the pain and suffering of others. They are those who have suffered in their own life and have learned what love is all about.

    Humility is about to me too, because it lets go of expectation, but still finds joy in oneself and others. They are intertwined and to me are two words for the same thing.

    Your thoughts are so beautifully written — inspired and inspiring. You have to live them to have written them. Thank you.

    You’re not a stranger anymore.
    (My apologies for misspelling your name, I have corrected it now.)

  36. May 30th, 2007 at 7:41 am
    ME Strauss said

    Hi Zakman!
    Welcome to you also.
    Forgive me I think I heard what you meant.
    I need to clarify in order to agree with you fully. Please know I believe you know what I’m going to say.

    I would say that it depends on why someone does the right thing. If I do the right thing, because I fear punishment that’s not humility. That’s fear.

    If I do the right thing, because someone is looking . . . that’s probably manipulation or ego.

    If I do the right thing, because I want something from you, likewise.

    So many others, I bet we all know.

    If I do the right thing out of generosity, because I feel in my soul that it’s the right thing. If I need no one to see me do it and I am happy in the doing. To me, that would be a sign of humility.

  37. May 30th, 2007 at 7:53 am
    zakman said

    Thanks for the quick reply, Liz! (That was very humble :) )

    The minute I hit the Submit button, I knew it needed clarification.

    I was trying to say it would be the ‘right thing’ to do because the person, when he hired the tape, got it fully rewound, ready to start viewing. So, in all fairness, it must be returned in the same condition?

    Slightly off-topic here, please excuse: I belong in a self-group and a gentleman once shared, “Even with an MA in English from Oxford, I didn’t know the meaning of guilt until recently. To me, guilt always meant the fear of being found out.”

  38. May 30th, 2007 at 7:57 am
    ME Strauss said

    Hi Zakman,
    You and I share a similar relationship with that submit button. :)

    Humility understands fairness. But fairness implies two-ways and espectation. To me, humility does not.

    Guilt, hmmmm, sounds like you want to go there next. Maybe next week. :)

  39. May 30th, 2007 at 8:16 am
    Billy said

    Karin

    I agree with your thoughts on the word accepting. The proper I think would be understanding. A humble person understand how to use his gifts to help others and they understand what they can do to help others is a gift from someone else and not something they have done themselves

    One of my favorite quotes about leadership is, ” A leader is someone with power to help the powerless.”

    I think this hits the key to humility. We are given a gift to help someone who does not have a certain. gift.

  40. May 30th, 2007 at 8:23 am
    zakman said

    Gotcha.

    Fairness and humility are indeed two very different concepts.

    Just another point here…. To quote you, Liz, from comment no. 11 above (nothing personal here!!): “I don’t think a lot about humility. I try to think about other folks always and try to always make room for them.”

    Isn’t that more like a people pleasing attitude? Which, again, indicates vaguely towards a lack of personal conviction?

    I sometimes think humility is just another word for integrity.

  41. May 30th, 2007 at 8:26 am
    Karin H. said

    Hi Billy

    Agree with you on understanding.

    But on the other hand I can’t help wanting to add the word: use when you quote your favourite quote on leadership. Without that word in it ‘the power’ becomes dominance, not leadership.

    Karin H.

  42. May 30th, 2007 at 8:31 am
    Billy said

    Karin

    I totally agree with the word use instead of with. It fits better

  43. May 30th, 2007 at 8:34 am
    ME Strauss said

    Ah Zakman,
    Excellent question and I’m relieved to have thought along that line before . . .

    People pleasing and being a victim look exactly like unfettered generosity. Unconditional love is giving yourself away without devaluing what you give.

    In other words the difference is in my mind.

    One key is to choose wisely, as Steve Farber says. To give yourself away entirely is not humility. Ghandi, Mandela, Mother Teresa — they were not victims or people pleasers. Yet if you describe their actions, or attribute the same actions to a person without a sense of self, the actions would be meaningless and the person would be as your say a people pleaser or a victim.

    Am I adequately explaining what I’m trying to say?

  44. May 30th, 2007 at 8:40 am
    ME Strauss said

    Hey Billy,
    I’d like the liberty to restate one thing that I think you’ll agree with.

    ”A leader is someone with power to help the powerless.” would be more true as ” A leader is someone with power to help.”

    There’s a hidden assumption in the first sentence.

    Leaders often help each other. :)
    No person is powerless. Or wants to be helped for that reason.

    I know it’s not what you meant. I’m just flushing out the hidden assumptions in that prepositional phrase.

  45. May 30th, 2007 at 8:43 am
    Billy said

    Do you have to have confidence inorder to be humble? My wife and I were talking about that last night. I believe you do, but she doesn’t. Just a thought

  46. May 30th, 2007 at 8:48 am
    Billy said

    Liz

    I like the change you made. It includes everyone, the powerful and powerless. I like the idea the leader is there to serve, though I am not a big fan of the inverted pyramid people use to show servant leadership because it shows the leader is keeping everyone a float.

  47. May 30th, 2007 at 8:50 am
    zakman said

    Quite honestly, Liz, what you’re trying to explain is flying just about two inches above my head! Simply put, I don’t quite follow … maybe I will, later, when I sit down with a cup of coffee!

    (To make matters worse, I don’t know the meaning of the word ‘unfettered’ … :( )

    And till then, cheers and thanks for the lively talk! :)

  48. May 30th, 2007 at 8:50 am
    Karin H. said

    Hi Liz (sorry to bud in).

    You filled in the ‘missing’ link on Billy’s quote for me. Well, removed the ‘hairs-in-my-neck’ feeling form the quote even more.
    Thanks

    Karin H.

  49. May 30th, 2007 at 8:58 am
    Karin H. said

    Liz sorry, budding in again

    Do you have to have confidence in order to be humble?

    Someone who is strong (i.e. confident with him/her self) knows when help is needed and can give unconditional love.
    So, IMHO yes on one hand, but the second part of the question comes right back to the beginning of this post.
    Can you call yourself humble? (And I do know what you mean, but this is IMHO the whole issue on humility)

    Karin H.

  50. May 30th, 2007 at 9:01 am
    Billy said

    zakman

    Dont worry I am not good with words so I live off of dictionary.com.

  51. May 30th, 2007 at 9:19 am
    ME Strauss said

    Hi Zakman,
    Sorry I don’t do that often. I like that word. It means not tied up.

    What I’m saying is if your motive is people pleasing you are a people pleaser. If your motive is generosity, you can do the same thing and not be a people pleaser, because you don’t need their approval.

    HA! that’s what I was trying to say. :)

  52. May 30th, 2007 at 9:21 am
    ME Strauss said

    Karin,
    Your voice is always welcome.

    Can you say you’re humble? Would you know?
    My best guess is that a truly humble person wouldn’t even think about the question.

  53. May 30th, 2007 at 9:27 am
    Karin H. said

    Amen to that.

  54. May 30th, 2007 at 9:38 am
    Billy said

    I second that amen. Does that we arent humble :)

  55. May 30th, 2007 at 9:41 am
    Karin H. said

    Billy, you make me laugh ;-)

    (Men, always wanting to have the last word ;-))

    Karin H.

  56. May 30th, 2007 at 9:46 am
    ME Strauss said

    I’m so smiling! :)

  57. May 30th, 2007 at 9:57 am
    zakman said

    All this talk is reminding me of Howard Roark in “The Fountainhead”. Though to the external world he was an arrogant SOB, I think his character was one of absolute humility.

    I use “absolute humility” as in… say, there’s no such thing like “relative humility.”

    And Howard Roark’s character is not even aware of his humility … we, as readers, can see it in his innocence.

  58. May 30th, 2007 at 10:03 am
    Karin H. said

    Zakman, honestly not to laugh at you, but I’m LOL (and glad I know some other slang, the one you mean ;-))

    SOB: Successful and Outstanding Blogger ;-)

  59. May 30th, 2007 at 10:30 am
    ME Strauss said

    That’s it exactly, Zackman. Thank you for adding that clarity. :)

  60. May 30th, 2007 at 10:31 am
    ME Strauss said

    Karin,
    Too funny. :)

  61. May 30th, 2007 at 10:39 am
    Billy said

    Karin
    :)

  62. May 30th, 2007 at 10:48 am
    Jessica Duquette said

    what a beautiful and thought-provoking thread! It humbles me…

    Here are the two things I have always held in my heart about humility. Both are so simple, yet for me, hit the mark:

    1. this from 12-Step land: Humility is being “right sized”.

    2. years ago, I heard this at a talk by Scott Peck, author of such books as The Road Less Traveled (who, by the way, displayed anything BUT humility that day!):

    “False humility, [in other words not owning the brilliance of who you are, or trying to downplay yourself so as to seem modest] is just as much NOT humility as arrogance.”

    Humility feels mostly to me about my relationship with the Divine. If I see myself the way I was created, just exactly the way I stand here on planet earth right this very split second, then I reside in the land of ‘humility’.

    Once I begin criticizing (sp?) myself, or only seeing PART of who I am (like my gorgeous curvaceous curvey thighs) and not the whole, I have surrendered my passport at the border.

    thanks for making me think this early in the morning, Liz, and it was a delight in my heart to see you last weekend.

    hugs,

    jessica

  63. May 30th, 2007 at 10:55 am
    ME Strauss said

    Hi Jessica!
    What a gorgeous sharing this is!

    You are a star, so shine.

    That’s what I hear you saying, see you living, know you are.

    How could the feeling not be major and not be mutual? Of course, I feel the same — delighted as in lit up.

  64. May 30th, 2007 at 10:55 am
    zakman said

    Alright, so I said something terribly stupid?

    Maybe Ayn Rand is outdated and the values she upheld have been questioned and tested and proved awfully wrong?

    Either way, talking only for myself, I can only dream of his beatifully simple innocence and an equally simple faith in what he thought was true.

  65. May 30th, 2007 at 11:02 am
    Karin H. said

    No Zakman, please. You didn’t say anything stupid. Honestly.
    Just the SOB reference on the SOB blog was really funny, not stupid!

    Karin H.

  66. May 30th, 2007 at 11:14 am
    ME Strauss said

    Zakman,
    Ah, no, we play here. We don’t pick on people. We have one rule — be nice. :)

    Everyone here would be devasted to think that they made anyone feel stupid. Everyone who comments here is incredibly cool and intelligent.

    You’re reading Ayn Rand. How cool is that?!!
    I loved that quote that you brought the table. :)

    I think your dream of living up to beautifully simple innocence and simple faith in the truth is beyond a doubt inpsiring.

  67. May 30th, 2007 at 12:35 pm
    John Benage said

    I slept, then read the balance of this thread and am humbled to exhaustion.

  68. May 30th, 2007 at 12:43 pm
    ME Strauss said

    Hi John,
    These are the people we get to talk to every day. Aren’t they and you amazing?

    I’m one lucky girl. Don’t think that I don’t know that. :)

  69. May 30th, 2007 at 3:47 pm
    Kathiroly Raj said

    MEStrauss,

    You have a very unique name. Anyway, you’ve spelled my name wrongly. It’s Kathiroly not Kathryn and I am guy. Well, that’s alright. We all make mistakes sometimes. It’s a natural part of being human. ;)

  70. May 30th, 2007 at 9:58 pm
    ME Strauss said

    Kathiroly Raj,
    My apologies. Your name is lovely and one I have never seen before. I make more mistakes than most people do . . . and I feel badly when they involve someone’s name.

    It’s as if, when my brain encounters an important idea or concept, it sometimes cannot translate the written text properly.

    Again, I am sorry. I have gone back to correct it. Your name is important and I want it to be right. :)
    Thank you for your generosity.

    PS Most people call me Liz

  71. May 30th, 2007 at 10:25 pm
    zakman said

    Early morning, fresh coffee and a clear mind and just as I said I might, I did get what you were trying to so kindly to explain (comment #43).

    To put what I understand concisely, Gandhi, Mandela and Mother Theresa were not doormats. They pleased people, but they were not people pleasers. I can see that they were truly not aware of the fact that they were helping other people, because that aspect of ‘helping people’ is simply NOT there in the equation.

    But i still wonder about one little thing: Did the act of helping others actually make them hapy? Did they derive a sense of self-fulfilment of some sort? Did they even go to bed that night feeling good that they were of some use to someone? Or they just didn’t care?

    So sar as I’m concerned, I actually feel good if I make someone’s day brighter. Does it make me feel I’m ‘better’ than other people? No. But I wonder if I feel good about the fact and I think about it, and it improves my self-esteem (not ego) … I’m still probably lost somewhere in how-the-world-looks-at-me issues.

    Laters Liz :)

  72. May 30th, 2007 at 10:44 pm
    ME Strauss said

    Hi Zakman,
    I hadn’t quite got what you meant about coffee until now . . . on the other side of the world. Good morning!

    Here’s what I suspect applies with regard to Ghandi and the others. . . .

    I believe there is no act of generosity that does not benefit both the giver and the receiver. That an unconditional gift — the only true generosity — is still a gesture of equality, because it is human to feel good about being truly generous.

    Do I think what Ghandi et al were made happy by what they did? I think it was their work, their passion, their life and the fact that they made a difference must have been satisfying and inspiring at the same time.

    As a teacher, I know this when you help someone learn most of it is opening a door, standing aside and watching others walk through on their own. I suspect that Ghandi and the others took their joy from seeing what the folks they got started do on their own.

    There’s nothing wrong with feeling good about helping. It’s being generous and as I said we all like to be generous. It’s a clean and pure feeling — joy at giving.

    If you hang out a sign and have to tell everyone, that’s the time you need to worry. But don’t worry just about feeling good for helping people. :)

    Imagine if people had more of a chance to be generous more often. When we accept others’ help, we open a door for them too — the door to those good feelings about who they are. :)

  73. May 30th, 2007 at 11:26 pm
    zakman said

    Wow.. your comment above almost makes me feel sentimental …. sheesh

    And I’m on the other side of the world? No, YOU’re on the other side of the world … j/k!

    And ref comment #65 and 66 – Karin & Liz: Of course I kknow you guys were not laughing at me! If so, I wouldn’t be here in the first place! :)

    And am I reading Ayn Rand? No, I read her like 25 years ago … I’d love to read other books, and I’m not giving the excuse ‘there’s no time’ … I can find it if I wanted to! Any suggestions on books?

    Gotta run to work now! Bye!

    Last Laugh: “I got lots of humility. Some of it is in the bank.”

  74. May 30th, 2007 at 11:43 pm
    ME Strauss said

    Make you feel sentimental. That’s me. :)

    Wait, I thought I was here and you’re there. Are you there and I’m here? Is that it? :)

    BTW, thanks for letting us know you get our stupid SOB comments. :)

    “Atlas Shrugged” is my favorite Ayn Rand. I watch world interrelate and it echoes to me to this day. Right now I’m reading Daniel Pink’s “The Whole New Mind.”

    Bankable humility . . . could I borrow some? :)

  75. May 31st, 2007 at 12:14 am
    Billy said

    Liz

    This is off topic but any books you recommend for a young person? Anything to help develop my thinking about life and Web 2.0?

  76. May 31st, 2007 at 3:41 am
    Karin H. said

    Good morning Liz

    Billy, why don’t you try ‘Citizen Marketers’ by Ben McConnell & Jackie Hubba? Life in and on Web2.0

    Karin H.

  77. May 31st, 2007 at 6:49 am
    ME Strauss said

    Good morning Karin and Billy,
    On to books we are now!
    An all-time favorite of mine is Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach and I’m currently reading A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future by Daniel Pink
    Both are winners.

  78. May 31st, 2007 at 6:54 am
    Karin H. said

    Morning Liz (first wanted to say: no not on books – on lunch ;-))

    Will put those books on my own wish-list (am more wishing for finding more time to be honest ;-))

    Karin H.

  79. May 31st, 2007 at 7:12 am
    ME Strauss said

    Hi Karin!
    I know what you mean about time . . .I’ve started a list next to my mouse that I’ve called “Karin’s list” not every word on it is from you, but many are . . . Some of it is because you are not only insightful, but you talk to me when my brain is still working. :)

    I’ve just added time — enough.

    The list is a list of topics I want to address. In this case, the idea that since we can’t make more time, how do we give away less? :)

  80. May 31st, 2007 at 7:18 am
    Karin H. said

    Oh dear, lists Liz!
    Have too many of them already too.

    But I don’t want to give away less.

    Answer to this one must be: making less lists, only for those things that are important – one list a day. Focusing on those items that brings us most – not less ;-)

    Karin H. (looking forward to a long weekend away = ‘back’ home annual Jazz weekend ;-) )

  81. May 31st, 2007 at 7:22 am
    ME Strauss said

    Hi Karin,
    No worry about me and lists. That I make one is a good thing. My bad behavior is to make notes everywhere and never bring them together to attend to.

    This one lists is topical. Just this and my calendar notes. :)

    You can feel safe. :)

  82. May 31st, 2007 at 7:59 am
    Billy said

    Thanks Liz ad Karin for the recommendations. I haven’t read any of those books. I can put them on my list now and hopefully get to them soon. Sometimes list scare me, because I realize how much there is I want, need to do, or dream of doing. Also, they can be rewarding after seeing what you have accomplished

  83. May 31st, 2007 at 10:30 am
    ME Strauss said

    Hey Billy,
    What great attitude toward lists! I’m going to follow your lead and focus on the accomplishment part. :)

  84. June 2nd, 2007 at 12:19 pm
    ann michael said

    Boy – turn your back for three days (and 50 comments) and look what happens! You all should bottle this and sell it – it’s great stuff!

    One thought that occurred to me somewhere around comment 71 was that somehow we have been convinced (or at least there has been an attempt to convince us) that deriving joy from an action somehow devalues that action perhaps by coloring our intent in doing it.

    It’s a shame. We are all what we are – programmed with certain abilities and preferences. When we act in line with our nature it’s only natural that it would contribute to our happiness.

    My favorite part of this thread so far was in comment 62 – Jessica quoted:

    “False humility, [in other words not owning the brilliance of who you are, or trying to downplay yourself so as to seem modest] is just as much NOT humility as arrogance.”

    God – I love that!

  85. June 2nd, 2007 at 5:47 pm
    ME Strauss said

    Hi Ann,
    I’m sorry it took me so long to see this comment. There’s so much to it. :)

    Thank you for getting to something that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.

    that somehow we have been convinced (or at least there has been an attempt to convince us) that deriving joy from an action somehow devalues that action perhaps by coloring our intent in doing it.

    Exactly. Joy seems to have gone from a gift and a blessing to something suspect that may need to be punished. In some ways, I lived a good part of my life in fear of my own joy — knowing to have it was to attract attention to my own happy condition.

    We are stars. We should be shining. :)

  86. June 2nd, 2007 at 8:33 pm
    ann michael said

    Amen to that!

  87. June 2nd, 2007 at 8:40 pm
    ME Strauss said

    :)

  88. June 3rd, 2007 at 9:51 am
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  89. June 12th, 2007 at 7:28 am
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    [...] a conversation about humility, Zakman commented on a comment I made. “I don’t think a lot about humility. I try to think [...]

  90. August 16th, 2007 at 7:18 am
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  91. August 16th, 2007 at 7:18 am
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  92. October 12th, 2007 at 6:04 am
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  93. November 14th, 2007 at 12:43 pm
    David said

    The twenty-second step of THE LADDER deals with various forms of vainglory. St John writes:

    When I fast, I am vainglorious; and when I permit myself food in order to conceal my fasting from others I am again vainglorious about my prudence. When I dress in fine clothing, I am vanquished by vanity, and if I put on drab clothing, again I am overcome by vanity. If I speak, vainglory defeats me. If I wish to keep silence, I am again given over to it. Wherever this thorn comes up, it stands with its points upright.

  94. November 22nd, 2007 at 10:22 pm
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    [...] _______________ The Top 10 Ways to Start Living Your Life Branding: 5 Ways to Help You Find Out Who You Are How to Recognize a Friend Personal Identity: What Is Humility? [...]

  95. December 19th, 2007 at 6:30 am
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    [...] Personal Identity: Who Are You Really? Personal Identity: What Is Humility? Personal Identity: Being True to Yourself Finding Your Frequency in Business and in Life See the [...]

  96. February 17th, 2008 at 9:30 am
    Justin Sen said

    A very intereting topic, one I have always been intrigued by.

    Humility is, in my opinion, the virtue by which man acquires all other virtues.

    A man cannot be forgiving, patient, wise or compassionate unless he is first of all humble. To be humble means to acknowledge the fact that one is weak and ignorant. Humility is about the willingness to learn and correct oneself. It is about acknowledging one’s mistakes and having the courage to say – “I was wrong. I am sorry.”

    Saying that you were wrong is one of the hardest things for a man to do.

  97. February 17th, 2008 at 1:35 pm
    ME Liz Strauss said

    Hi Justin!
    Welcome. Your description of humility resonates with me in many ways. I’d add one bit to it . . . humility is also understanding the truth of oneself.

  98. February 19th, 2008 at 9:27 am
    Justin Sen said

    Hello Liz! You said that humility is also understanding the truth of oneself. But what truth is that?

    Basically, I’d think that you were referring to the truth that man knows so little. The man who knows little and who acknowledges this truth would be a man who possesses humility.

    Or were you referring to some other truth?

  99. February 19th, 2008 at 10:12 am
    ME Liz Strauss said

    Hi Justin!
    I think we know what we’re good at. I think we know what we need. I think we know the truth about who we are. I think sometimes we lie to ourselves, but that doesn’t change the reality that the truth is within us.

  100. February 21st, 2008 at 9:00 am
    Justin Sen said

    Just a bit curious. What do you mean when you say we know the truth about who we are? What is the truth about us? And what is the need to lie to ourselves about it?

    I’d like to understand how all this is related to humility.

  101. February 21st, 2008 at 11:01 am
    ME Liz Strauss said

    Hi Justin!
    I have no mystical or hidden meanings, no overtly religious connotations. I mean our authentic individuality, our strengths and weaknesses.

    Please don’t think I feel anyone has a need to lie about it.

    As we learn about the world from childhood, we compare ourselves to the words we learn and make assumptions about our value and the value of others.

    Humility is understanding we have value, but not thinking our own value outweighs any other’s.

    If you read through this comment thread you’ll find plenty. :)

  102. February 22nd, 2008 at 2:17 pm
    Yaseen said

    One of the lessons that i learnt early on which is so so right, is that the humblest person in your organisation or your life is the most important. Never ever forget that.

    If youre going into the store (or whatever business youre in) and you chat to the doorman or the cleaner, he will go home and say to the family, you know the CEO or COO or Owner, or HR Manager (or whatever your job title is) was here, and he was chatting to me, and your staff feel really good about it.

    Its all about Man-management and getting close to the people and not having a arrogant attitude and thinking that youre gods gift to retailing (or business). No ones that, whatever business youre in.

    I’ve always said to all my people, no matter where you are, you always chat to people, and ask them how they are, and certainly at the end of the day, when retail (business) is such a tough job, and most people are very tired.

    On a friday night when we close, i used to be in the stores and stand at the back door with the manager and say to tell them thank you for doing such a great job. When i go round, i always say to the Manager, thank you very much, youre doing a very good job for us, and just thank everyone.

    Its the human touches, saying thank you, that brings the spirit of your company through.

  103. February 22nd, 2008 at 6:43 pm
    ME Liz Strauss said

    Hi Yassen,
    Those are words of wisdom. A humble person doesn’t measure himself or herself by others — or measure others to see who belongs above and below. Humility and humanity go together.

    What you’ve said is a genuine life and business skill.

  104. November 21st, 2008 at 11:10 am
    Crystal said

    Humility is the knowlegde that the God who created the Heavens and holds the massive universe in the plam of HIs hand (so massive that we cannot even get our heads around the idea)is the same God who created all men and loves us so much that He gave his only one son (those of us who have children, think about this)to die for us. It is love beyond our imaginations and puts us all on equal ground.

  105. May 5th, 2009 at 1:40 am
    Fala Winston said

    Humility is knowing you are good at something yet have grace to accept that others maybe just as good or better. It is knowing there is much much more to life, to see, to hear, to learn and never letting one accomplishment swell your head into thinking one deed will make you great. You must keep striving to be better at life, in your actions and your heart.

  106. May 29th, 2009 at 9:22 pm
    Jim C said

    I have read this discussion with a lot of interest precisely because as a Christian I want our company to reflect the character of Christ as we live and work daily. Tomorrow in my address at our annual sales meeting I am planning to use one thing God says is good and requires of us who belong to Him: that is “to walk humbly with your God” Micah 6:8.

    The meeting includes those who are not of any faith or perhaps are nominally. So such a pronouncement has its risks in a company which offers no product or service which cannot be gotten from competitors and generally at lower prices. What can we offer except that which cannot be purchased – Godly relationships? Godly humility or humility with God is one of those attributes of Godly relationships that cannot be copied or self-consciously produced. Rather I see humility in other people who I know sincerely live by God’s Word and depend on Him daily. Yet I really do not know that I have any humility myself but have often been humbled and rightfully so.

    The vast majority of our employees came from other competitors and generally stated that they wanted to live a more gentle, kinder life style. No one has ever said they want to live a more humble life. Hmmmmmm.

    I found this discussion by searching for humility. These thoughts were not intended to be posted but I changed my mind because of the many thoughtful postings over the past two years by others. I will re-visit to glean more wonderful insights.

    Thanks
    jc

  107. October 15th, 2009 at 4:06 pm
    Reflections on the Subject of Humility | Three Sigma Systems said

    [...] of behavior that is shy, understated, gracious, and deferential to others, At the other extreme, one Website went so far as to say that, if you are behaving humbly, you are not humble. In other words, [...]

  108. October 23rd, 2009 at 4:57 pm
    Therese said

    This idea has a lot of staying power- and it’s just as much a poetic idea as it is a philosophy (which is where it gets that power from).

  109. June 22nd, 2010 at 8:22 pm
    Tamsen said

    Liz-what a beautiful reflection for the end of the day and sharing your personal story. i believe in our fast paced materialistic world to hold onto a sense of humility would be/is difficult for the majority of us. Personally, humility always has had such a religious passive connotation to me I rarely gave it thought or application to my life. Perhaps because I have never been good at it for I feel I lack the empathy or compassion for others that would accompany this state. I need it to be practical. Something I can achieve. It’s a wonderment how the Universe works though with you writing this piece and me being reminded of a book where I found an “executable” definition to achieve a personal state of humility….active acceptance and selfless giving. The Four Agreements by Michael Ruiz: 1. Be Impeccable With Your Word 2. Don’t Take Anything Personally 3. Don’t Make Assumptions 4. Always Do Your Best. I hope this opens others to finding a personal state of humility. @speakology/tamsen

  110. June 22nd, 2010 at 8:40 pm
    Tamsen said

    btw thanks for the re-post on this..truly. i know you actively read your comments so I would like to share a book with you. you probably know it, but if you do not i encourage you to pick it up. THE GIVER by Lois Lowry. It’s a juvenile book, but so beautifully written. To me it was a story of humility and an ultimate sacrifice towards grace and salvation.

  111. June 22nd, 2010 at 9:40 pm
    Cate Colgan said

    I’ve always liked this definition :)

    “Humility is perpetual quietness of heart. It is to have no trouble. It is never to be fretted or vexed, or irritable, to wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing that is done against me. It is to be at rest when nobody praises me, and when I am blamed or despised. It is to have a blessed home in myself where I can go in and shut the door and kneel to my Father in secret and be at peace, as in a deep sea of calmness, when all around and about is seeming trouble.” – Author UnKn own

  112. June 23rd, 2010 at 8:29 pm
    ME Liz Strauss said

    Hi Tamsen,
    I love your thoughts on this. I often go back to visit this post because so many people had so many important things to say.

    Your list would make a beautiful blog post of your own.

    Yes, I know the book, “The Giver.” I’ve got it on my shelf in the hallway. I’ve read it more than once.

    Thank you for reminding me of it. :)

  113. June 23rd, 2010 at 8:36 pm
    ME Liz Strauss said

    Cate,
    You and I are indeed kindred spirits! Thank you for sharing that. I sit here and read it again. :)

  114. August 9th, 2011 at 9:25 am
    Recruiting Animal said

    Dear Liz,

    Here’s my idea of humility.

    Look up humility in the dictionary and you find it closely associated with the word “modest”.

    What does modest mean?

    “Immodest” comes from the Latin “immodestus” meaning “excessive”.

    And “modest” comes from the Latin “modestus” meaning “keeping due measure”.

    A modest person does not inflate her abilities. One plus one is two and nothing stops her from seeing that.

    What might stop someone from seeing it? Fear that you are garbage if you don’t measure up.

    That leads you to overstate your abilities in order to avoid degradation.

    False modesty is also excessive. You don’t inflate your abilities but you rate them as being less than they really are.

    Why? Fear of criticism when you fail and fear of being immodest and losing status for that reason.

    So, immodesty is based on fear and humility is a remedy for immodesty.

    It is a lack of fear based on a lack of a need for status.

    This lack of need frees you to attend to other people but it is not based on a primary consideration for them over yourself.

    It is based on a sense of personal security due, in large part, to a lack of concern for what other people think. This is a denigration of the role other people usually play in our lives.

  115. August 9th, 2011 at 9:30 am
    ME Liz Strauss said

    Hi Animal,
    I don’t disagree with a single idea that you present.
    I also see more than that. :)

  116. September 30th, 2011 at 9:43 am
    Raymond Fox said

    I have been thinking alot about humility lately. I want to be a better person although I have alot of hate toward a person whos in the halfway house I”am in. How do I overcome this hate.

  117. October 29th, 2011 at 7:11 am
    Anonymous said

    [...] in the crowd always and never in doubt. It is pride not earned-style over substance. Not honest Personal Identity: What Is Humility? | Liz Strauss at Successful Blog Here is what I have found…. the more humble you are, generally the most people will open up to [...]

  118. December 20th, 2011 at 9:54 pm
    Lilac said

    Understanding the importance of emotional and intellectual space and how to maintain that space with oneself and with others at all times is perhaps the foundation to humility and arrogance. Could it be that humility is the same as being aware and respecting your own boundaries as well as the other person’s boundaries. And arrogance is robbing someone of their intellectual and emotional domain. As if you are stealing their space. Just a thought!

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