Word of the Month: Humility

There seems at times to be confusion about what humility is. It’s not a synonym for humiliation, even though the words sound similar. Simply put, humility is the quality of being humble. To me this means that you see how you and your efforts fit into the big picture. You appreciate how you are part of something much bigger than yourself. And you appreciate how others have played a role in every success you have had. Friends, relatives, teachers, co-workers, customers and other people can help to make possible the success of an individual or organization.

You are also experiencing humility when you realize that inspiration and creativity come to you from a mysterious source, whatever you call that source. Some use terms such as “God, “Source of Being,” “Ground of Being,” “Creator” and such; and for some, that source is indescribable, ineffable, beyond words. In The War of Art, Steven Pressfield writes that artists are humble when “alone with the work.” He says, “They know that they are not the source of the creations they bring into being.”

In essence, when you are humble about your accomplishments or talents, you are letting your work speak for itself. In such a case, you can exude a quiet confidence and you can make an effort to ensure that others get the credit that they deserve. Perhaps a good example of humility is when someone receives a prize such as an Academy Award and sincerely wants to thank everyone who helped to make that honor possible. It’s no wonder that nominees often show up at such events with a list of those to thank, “just in case.” Although it might seem arrogant to be prepared in that way, it might actually be an act of humility, if the intent is to be sure that everyone who deserves credit is thanked!

See more features from the August 2014 issue