Smashing Paradigms – Why Be Humble?

This week a note. I like to choose to have only enough Structure to allow #Flow, and it feels to me that having set themes for my posts on Fridays (Smashing Paradigms), Saturdays (Writing I love) and Sundays (Movies with Meaning) is now too structured, so after this week I’m dropping that structure and such posts will be more sporadic and come as things #Flow !

Latest in the series on Smashing Paradigms. 

For my story-telling explanation of the definition of a Paradigm, see “What is a Paradigm“. 

One way of defining a paradigm is “we’ve always done it this way”


Recently I was talking with an author and thought leader I admire and had exchanged some thoughts with online before we decided to have a “real life” conversation (rumour has it they are coming back into vogue!). As we talked, they noted that of late they have found a theme around leaders saying to them: “my people just don’t get it, what am I doing wrong ?”.

As she listened to this, again and again, she recognised: “they don’t have a communication problem, they have an arrogance problem”.

When she has candidly told them this, sometimes they responded to her “how do I be humble?”.

She asked me my advice, based on my experience with leaders, on what to say in response to such a question.

My answer?  

First, tell them: “the answer is to simply BE humble”.

Next, flip the question to ask them “…and, to BE humble, you first have to connect to WHY you would want to be humble in the first place. What would be the benefit of you being humble ? Why be humble ?

Imagine asking that question of a leader ? “Why be Humble ?”

Some fascinating answers might come forwards. Trust me, I’ve done it, the answers are fascinating, particularly when the person answering the question of the leader comes from a genuine space of listening to understand deeply what comes forth.

If they then ultimately ask again “how do I be humble?”, I would recommend is to develop an insatiable curiosity for the power of humility, then to seek to spend time with humble leaders at all levels of life and work to learn from them, to absorb by osmosis what it is to BE humble and the power this creates as a leader.

For now, links to some earlier articles from me on this theme, should you feel curious:

Smashing Paradigms – “I was wrong”, which begins:

“The world we know is based on the “command and control” method of leadership that leveraged the post Second World War return to the workforce of millions of men used to following orders without question.

Out of this paradigm of omniscient and all-powerful leadership came the orthodoxy of the MBA and Business School training that to some level still persists, and certainly has formed much of the understanding, knowledge and beliefs of many of the CEOs, Politicians and other 40+, 50+, 60+ leaders that guide our world now.”

Humble Leadership and Trust“, which begins:

“This week I met with a top executive coach who, in an earlier phase of life, was a famous sporting leader. In that phase of life, one example of their leadership created a famous day that will live on for many years. That moment was created by an example of leadership in the sporting arena that was silent, resolute, calm and quietly strong.

When I asked them last week about core attributes of successful leaders, their first word was “humility“.

As you can see, I am not disclosing the individual or their example of sporting leadership. After all, they are humble!”

I do highly recommend visiting this post, as I then go on to share a video of Chip Conley, and then these words:

“Chip Conley is one of my business heroes, I highly recommend reading his work “Peak” that takes Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs into business and leadership.

In this short interview he talks about the power of being a “Vulnerable Visionary”.. and that the key is to be vulnerable with confidence if others are to follow that leader.”

Since I wrote this article, I have had the intense pleasure and privilege of spending time with Chip in Baja at the Modern Elder Academy. In all my years in business, as an athlete, in the military as a young man… Chip is the leader I would follow more than any other. He totally models humility and being that “Vulnerable Visionary”.

Why be humble? Why wouldn’t you be?