The Benefits of Humility

I recently gave a public talk at Open Door in Montreal which is a weekly event for inmates, ex-inmates and community members, hosted by Communitas, an organization that supports the successful reintegration of those who have spent time in prison.
I spoke about humility and the importance of cultivating humility personally, in relationships and in business.
I shared about my own challenges with humility, practices I use to cultivate humility and some of the practical benefits of humility for relationships, organizational culture and mental health.
Here are some highlights:
– Humility typically increases trust and improves communication and relationships. It is an invitation for more open, mature dialogue.
– In romantic relationships where both partners demonstrate humility there are better psychological and physiological outcomes such as less stress and lower blood pressure. This makes sense because reactivity, misunderstandings, conflict all can lead to stress.
– When leaders demonstrate and act as role models in demonstrating humility followers tend to trust them more and are more loyal.
– Humility is supportive of learning and leadership development. To learn we need to be a student which is essential to develop new skills and knowledge including being a more effective leader or communicator or parent.
– Humility contributes to better mental health and physical outcomes. Research suggests that people who have practices for developing humility have higher tendencies for forgivingness and patience and lower tendencies of negativity. It has also been demonstrated that humility can reduce stress and antisocial behaviour.

The Value of Being Lost

Once walking on the street in Montreal I came across a homeless man who I met a few times before and I asked him how he was doing. He said, “I’m lost”, and he said it with tears welling up in his eyes and a confidence and vulnerability in his state of being that I’ll never forget.

The confidence and sincerity in his answer moved me. It inspired me to face myself and be more honest with my own lostness at times.

As a man I’ve found it hard to admit when I’m lost to myself and to others. But I have learned that there is much value in being lost. I’ve learned that being lost is simply a part of life, business, creativity, and becoming a better version of myself.

If we never got lost, we would stay the same. If we never got lost, we wouldn’t come up with any new ideas. If we never got lost we might not question ourselves. If we never got lost we would become too arrogant.

It takes courage to be lost in Western culture. We value knowing, having a plan, and confidently directing our lives according to our perfect philosophies. Sometimes lostness arrives as a loving messenger inviting new possibilities for ourselves and our projects and we may come up with even better plans if we listen. In my own experience, it has been periods of lostness that have preceded some of the most meaningful and inspiring changes in my life and career.