The Fickle Nature of Humility

Humility is a funny and fickle thing. The moment you realize you have it, you lose it. In 1995 a man named McArthur Wheeler robbed several banks in broad daylight. Prior to robbing the banks, he covered his face in lemon juice. In his mind his face would not be seen on camera as lemon juice is a component of invisible ink. Like a present day version of “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” Wheeler strode overconfidently into the banks not realizing everyone could see him. Obviously, he was mistaken and arrested for his crimes. Several years later, two social psychologists by the names of Dunning and Kruger discovered what they called the Dunning-Kruger effect. This affect describes individuals who inflate their own assessment of themselves. Said another way, these individuals overestimate their competence and are unable to see their incompetence. People living under this affect often lack humility or the ability to realistically assess their capabilities and areas of growth. This effect seems to be growing worse as society, individuals, and organizations blindly focus on and often inflate accomplishments in order to avoid the appearance of failure. While this gives the sense of superiority initially, it ultimately contributes to a downturn. By over estimating capabilities and under emphasizing failures, growth is thwarted. For growth only happens when we look at both the good and the bad alongside of one another tempered with wisdom and a teachable attitude. While this is not always comfortable, it is necessary to be an authentic and genuine person or to develop an organization of substance. This is realistic self assessment…this is the key to growth and success…this is humility.-

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