I remember the first time I turned the other cheek — that one got slapped too but it didn’t matter. I was exercising something I was taught early on but had adamantly resisted for years because my pride/ego would not allow it.
Humility is one of those misunderstood words. Some think it’s about groveling, being submissive or week. Some think it’s about putting yourself down or denying your gifts, talents and abilities.
Humility is none of those things. When properly exercised humility is a powerful trait personified by people of formidable character. When we really begin to understand the role of humility in our lives we recognize it as a strength spawn of confidence and self assuredness.
Strengthening your humility muscle is a MUST
in any personal growth plan.
In his book, People Problems Dr. Alan Godwin provides a contextual understanding of humility in relationships and how to strengthen its “muscle” in each of us. As he describes it, “humility is the ability to acknowledge potential personal wrongness.” Simply put, humility enables us to allow for the possibility, without threat to our ego or pride that we could be wrong.
This does not mean we are always wrong or we do not know anything. It just means we don’t always have to be right. Confidence and humility are not at the opposite ends of the personality spectrum. In fact, I believe like the antagonistic muscle of the chest and back which are in a constant state of give and take in order to maintain physiological integrity and balance massive confidence without equally strong humility muscles can lead to a breakdown in personal integrity.
Before long arrogance, intolerance and lack of flexibility begin to rule the roost. Having come from the world of “overconfident” professional athletics you can take my word for it these are not the people you want to be around.
When a person is humble, they’re confident and flexible enough to say, “I could be wrong, you could be right, let’s talk about it.” This humble statement not only empowers us but it empowers others to be in stronger relationships with us.
Godwin gives us TWO STEPS within the context of interpersonal relationships for strengthening your humility muscle:
1. Acknowledge the Possibility
This exercise takes place inside our heads and the internal dialogue sounds something like this, “As much as I hate to admit it, I’m not omniscient. It’s possible that this other person sees or knows something I don’t. I think I’m right, but I need to concede the possibility that I could be wrong. Sure, it will hurt if I find out I’m wrong, but I need to remember that truth is more important than being right.”
2. Admit the Possibility
This is the external version of the internal dialog above. We’ve thought it and now we say it out-loud. Doing this has two positive effects. First, whenever we verbalize the possibility that we could be wrong, our humility muscle gets a little stronger and GROWS. Second, the other person becomes less defensive allowing them the ability to exercise their humility muscles a little easier.
3. Be in the Service of Others
This one comes from my personal tool box and it has served me well. I always keep at the forefront of my consciousness and acknowledge every day that whatever talents, gifts, looks, smarts, opportunities and success I may enjoy in my life they are all a fleeting manifestation of the higher power that gave me life and who I am here to serve.
Take these three steps today for your personal growth plan! Exercise your humility muscle, grow and become a more powerful person. Oh and remember to turn the other cheek now and then…the more it stings the BIGGER you become.