Should great leaders be morally humble or morally confident?

Laura Carbonell, guest contributor

Laura Carbonell

By guest contributor Laura Carbonell
In her own words, “I am a bilingual and bicultural language teacher in San Francisco, the place I call home. Born into a family of writers, I enjoy sharing my vision of empowerment and motivation in blogs and articles, having successfully overcome serious addictions and life challenges.
“My hope is to share my humble views on life and bring some optimism, cheer and encouragement. Life has its ups and downs, but there is always light at the end of the tunnel if you keep walking.
“If you would like to collaborate with me, please drop me a line at lcb.laura@gmail.com.”

Humility is when you know your self-worth but don’t boast about it or take it for granted. Sometimes, it would appear that a person is humble when, in fact, they have low self-esteem so let us not confuse the two.
Low self-esteem stems from adaptation problems which may be linked to a child’s upbringing if parents didn’t praise them enough, treated them poorly or had too high expectations of them, as Psychology Today explains. Symptoms are those of fear, low self-worth and often self-hatred resulting from feelings of inadequacy.

Pope Francis (rea.net / Korean Culture and Information Service )

Pope Francis (korea.net / Korean Culture and Information Service )

In contrast, humble people have an accurate view of themselves but don’t allow their ego to interfere. Humility is a powerful tool to move ahead and grow in life, knowing where you stand, ready to accept that you, like everyone else, will make mistakes. Humble people usually outsmart people who are controlled by an inflated ego who think they are all powerful and right all the time. Since humble people put more thought into what they do and don’t overestimate themselves, humility turns out to be a powerful tool in life.

Negative effects of an ego boosting society
In our society, we seem to be all about boosting and pumping up people’s self-worth and self-esteem, driving people to succeed in their careers and personal lives at any cost. Sometimes, overestimating how far they can go, results in ego-driven individuals with exceedingly over-important views of themselves who will thoughtlessly do whatever it takes to stay in power with horrifying results. According to The New York Times’ Opinion Pages’, David Brooks, in a panel he attended at the APS convention, so much has been done to boost people’s self-esteem in the past few decades that, in many cases, this has created people with unstable self-worth, who bounce back and forth from high pride to low self-worth, creating equal despair for all.

Rigoberta Menchú in the March 2009 march commemorating the anniversary of the signing of the Treaty on Identity and Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Rigoberta Menchú in the March 2009 march commemorating the anniversary of the signing of the Treaty on Identity and Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Why choose to be humble?
• Humility keeps you down to earth, in touch with reality and, funnily enough, this in itself boosts self-esteem.
• Being humble enables you to improve since you are more open to learning from your mistakes, people around you and life experiences.
• Humility enables you to assess situations and handle them with caution thereby accepting your limitations without fear.
• Humility makes you more aware and understanding of others’ strengths and weaknesses, since you are able to accept your own limitations and mistakes without your ego suffering.
• It leaves little room for envy since you don’t compare yourself to others.
• You are more level-headed and success won’t corrupt you, having you do that which you swore you would never dream of doing.
• It will keep you honest because you are honest with yourself.
• You are braver since you are not threatened by fear of failure.

Moral humility: Why you need it

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

It’s important to know that, no matter how humble we are, we will sometimes over-estimate our moral humility and this is something to watch out for. Moral humility helps us be more tolerant and open-minded. We think things over more and assess how we would realistically act in a given situation, and then we are more ready to act accordingly, sticking to our moral principles and values. Our sense of moral humility is challenged when we thoughtlessly say that we would never do something cruel towards another human being and find ourselves doing just that when placed in a situation of power. The following TEDxNewEngland talk by Nitin Nohria: “Practicing Moral Humility,” explains the importance of moral humility.
In general, if you are not humble, life has sneaky, painful and sometimes harsh ways to make you humble. When you make a mistake, you get to watch in awe and shame, how wrong (and human!) you were. So, why not try humility over an inflated ego and sense of self? You have so much to gain and nothing to lose.

Mohandas K. Gandhi

Mohandas K. Gandhi
(Public domain)

“Let him who is without sin, cast the first stone.”

This blog was originally posted on “On Life, Hope y Todo lo Demás” under the title “Are you morally humble?” on December 10, 2015

 

 

 

About Susana G Baumann

Award-winning journalist, author, multicultural expert, public speaker, small business advocate and the Editor-in-Chief of LatinasinBusiness.us. Susana is an Argentinean immigrant who started her own small business over 20 years ago. Now, through her new digital platform and social media channels, she advocates for the economic empowerment of Latinas in the United States.
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