The Humility Obsession – Suppressing your greatness

As children we were told to downplay emotions and not to brag about our talents. We were to temper our enthusiasm and refrain from taunting and trash talking. Too much celebrating was unsportsmanlike and might make the other players feel bad. Additionally, we did not want the other party to return the favor and celebrate in our faces. If we won, we should be humble and defer a lot of our positive comments to the performance of team. The more we could transfer the secrets of our success to the team, the better. Individual greatness was to be placed in the background. We should be graceful in victory or defeat. However, if we are not careful, this could work against us.

If we are talented, we should display the talent and refrain from arrogance, I get that. It is character building and appropriate to put team first, I understand the principle. But, unless we have a solid self image, a strong will and self confidence, we might develop a humility obsession, which could diminish our level of participation in various situations.
No one likes a braggart. This concept is clear. We are haunted by virtual and physical images of people being loathed for their “I am better than you” attitude. We have become so worried about being perceived as being stuck on ourselves that we run in the opposite direction. We feel out of place talking about our contributions, which could affect our self image and self-esteem. We don’t want to become unpopular. Therefore, some of us overcompensate and use excessive humility to project an incomplete, less potent version of our true self.
Have you encountered people with great ideas, but will not bring them up in meetings? They are not particularly shy or soft spoken. They often have many of these innovative thoughts, but do not want to come across as a know it all. They were told to be humble and this meant to keep a low profile.

A woman in the health club made the comment, “why can’t I see myself as my friends see me.” They told her that she was intelligent, creative and attractive, but she could not embrace those words for herself. She was caught up in the humility obsession and could not feel good about her appearance and intellect. Many of us tend to resort to self-deprecating words and behaviors because of the guilt we feel around placing ourselves at a higher level than those around us. We don’t want to be perceived as a target for ridicule which is often the case when people display a lot of confidence.

There is untold and untapped talent within our communities and corporations that will not step forward because of an inappropriate perception of humility. Some of these individuals are not shy or insecure, but may be driven to holding back their greatness because they were told to be seen and not heard.
This humility obsession causes us not to be satisfied with certain aspects of our career achievement or personal accomplishments. A humility obsession makes us afraid to take credit for our success. We fail to disclose the full range of our competence. We may not acknowledge the value of our role in achieving and exceeding objectives.
There are numerous solutions to the humility obsession. First, we need to concentrate on our motives and our intentions. Secondly, we should bask in our blessings and realize our gifts are to be shared with others to entertain, educate and inspire them to take positive action. We concentrate too much on the fall from grace if we jinx ourselves by being too proud of our work. “It is best to be humble rather than to be humble.” This is the mantra we repeat in our heads. We have what we have because of fate, so we shouldn’t get carried away with our role in the process. However, we must be thankful for our blessings and not feel guilty. Thirdly, we need to stop and celebrate who we are and what we’ve done. Our positive achievements should be a matter of record and we deserve accolades for the discipline required seek and secure excellence.

In my seminars on the Know system™, I take approximately 10 words from the word know to illustrate the Know System™ Decision Making Model. One of the keywords found in the word know is the word “on”. We have to be on at all times, which enables the people and resources we need to find us. When we are on message, on fire, on target or simply turned on, we are closer to being fulfilled. This also unleashes the winning instinct within us which drives us to become successful.

Humility has its merits. I am not advocating arrogant, obnoxious or condescending behavior. We should not be self absorbed or condescending. It is true that a bad case of arrogance can propel people from you rather than draw people toward. However, we must not use the humility obsession to deprive us of participating in life to the fullest. We should not use it to diminish our progress, success or achievements or to deprive the world of our skills, talents and abilities.

Humility is good, but a humility obsession makes us feel inhibited and unnatural when we want to express our greatness. We need to be secure in to allow people to utilize their talents and abilities and celebrate excellence without fearing ridicule from others. Humility if improperly used prevents us from appreciating the work we’ve done and the results we’ve achieved. We are worried about what people will say about us. We don’t want to be that person who is arrogant. But this aversion to arrogance can affect our confidence and self-esteem in the long run and cause us hours of discontent.
Copyright © 2014 Orlando Ceaser

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