Humility, it’s Your Best Friend

[May 11, 2022]  You’re not as smart as you think you are, so stop acting like you know it all.  And, darn it, stop taking yourself so seriously.  Humility, it’s your best friend.

Humility means you are probably not as smart as you think you are.  That you are a flawed person.  And you know it and knowingly embrace the fact that you are imperfect and inadequate.  This is where the idea of personal responsibility comes into play.  You compete with yourself to be slightly better tomorrow than you are today; that you are able to be better in some way that you can manage.

That ability to know that you can improve is the beginning of humility.  We often ask the question, given that we are flawed, how can we be as good as someone else?  That is not the best question.  The right question is, can you be slightly better tomorrow than your currently flawed self?  And the answer is “yes” if you can set your personal standards low enough for you to achieve them.  If so, then you can be better.  This is the pathway to self-improvement, and you rising above your yesterday’s self.  This is the pathway to a meaningful life.

Acknowledge that you should be careful about what you do or say; you’re probably mistaken because you are flawed and insufficient.  That raises an important philosophical point that has been at the forefront of thinking for thousands of years.  How do you make practical, positive changes if you don’t know what you might need to know?  How can you be cautious not to make mistakes?  How do you do good?

The answer is that you should be careful about stepping outside the area of your personal knowledge.  The solution is to start with the small things in your life.  Fix those things you can adjust within your competence.  Start with those small problem areas that trouble you, or perhaps trouble your family.  You really have to have your act together if you try to fix your family.  We should acknowledge that it is hard to put yourself together and that it’s really tough to put your family together.  Obviously, the world is more complicated than you or your family.  So why do so many folks think they can save the world?

We tell kids today that they are the best kids in the world, they are wonderful, and they can achieve anything they want.  We teach them to believe they are morally superior to others, that they can do great things by thinking the ‘right’ way, and they can do so easily by holding tightly onto a set of dogmatic ideas that rejects religion, the freedom of speech, and any idea that runs counter to the current political thinking.  Wrong.  We are raising narcissists that are tragically disappointed in their lives and are angry, resentful, bitter, and vindictive.  Not only is this destructive personally to them, but it is also dangerous to their families and communities.  They will not be a positive force to those around them.  Only tragedy can result.

And while the virtue of humility is rarely discussed in our modern society, it certainly can be a noble goal.  So stop taking yourself so seriously, be humble, admit your flaws and work to make yourself better each day, a little each day.  Compare yourself to who you were yesterday.  It should be one of our most honorable aims, for humility is, indeed, your best friend.

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Please read my new book, “Our Longest Year in Iraq,” on Amazon (link here).

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

20 thoughts on “Humility, it’s Your Best Friend

  1. Eagle Eye

    Our goal should be to properly teach our children and not farm out that job to teachers or others. It is our responsibility as parents. There is no higher calling to help our children and show them the path to a better life. And that life is not thru the possession of things/toys but thru understanding that they are here to serve and be humble so they can learn and help others.

    Reply
  2. Adolf Menschner

    Know what you do not know. That is the challenge. Work to achieve it but know you never will. It is the journey that matters most. Bring others along with you. Do good. Do the moral things you know you have responsibility to do.

    Reply
  3. Audrey

    Humility begins with a sense of subordination to God in Christ. “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master” (Matthew 10:24). “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God” (1 Peter 5:6).

    Reply
    1. Audrey

      — and humility asserts truth not to bolster ego with control or with triumphs in debate, but as service to Christ and love to the adversary. “Love rejoices in the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:6).

      Reply
      1. Winston

        Well said, Audrey. Humility knows it is fallible, and so considers criticism and learns from it.

        Reply
      2. Dead Pool Guy

        We often ignore the wisdom of the Bible and do so to our own peril. Learn from the Book. You will expand yourself and reach heights you’ve never known.

        Reply
  4. Eric Coda

    In 1908, the British writer G. K. Chesterton described the embryo of today’s full-grown immature culture called postmodernism. One mark of its “vulgar relativism” (as Michael Novak calls it) is the hijacking of the word “arrogance” to refer to conviction and “humility” to refer to doubt.

    Reply
    1. Nick Lighthouse

      Right! A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth. Clear? Should be.

      Reply
  5. Bryan Z. Lee

    Be humble, be smart, work hard, take responsibility, never lie-cheat-steal, or do stupid things. That is the Gen. Satterfield way and …. guess what? It works. Of course, this requires effort and sacrifice. Many just want handouts and play it safe. They will never be in the game. Bad for them. Convince them otherwise is largely a waste of time.

    Reply
  6. Bernie

    The most important thing here is that we don’t know what we don’t know and probably don’t know that either.

    Reply
  7. Lady Hawk

    Ouch, a terrible indictment of our public school systems. Quoting Gen. Satterfield, “We tell kids today that they are the best kids in the world, they are wonderful, and they can achieve anything they want. We teach them to believe they are morally superior to others, that they can do great things by thinking the ‘right’ way, and they can do so easily by holding tightly onto a set of dogmatic ideas that rejects religion, the freedom of speech, and any idea that runs counter to the current political thinking. Wrong.”

    Reply
      1. Fred Weber

        Yep, I was going to say it too. We done Lady Hawk.

        Reply
  8. Eye Cat

    Humility is, indeed, your best friend because it makes you more likeable and we know that is important for being a leader. No popularity, like Gen. Satterfield says, but likeability.

    Reply
  9. Tom Bushmaster

    Humility is not discussed anymore and not seen as a virtue because we train narcissists now! All part of the plan to screw up kids and make them into little robots that do the bidding of crazy teachers.

    Reply
    1. Max Foster

      Tom, good point and another point. If we look back at the pandemic to see who stood out and were the bravest to keep our stores open, food on the table, and trucks running. We also saw who were the cowards. The cowards were the politicians but surprisingly it was also teachers. Teachers failed the children they teach. Sad. No one is callling them out on it.

      Reply
      1. Mikka Solarno

        Yes, Max, public teachers across the nation showed us their true stripes and it was cowardice and their own narcissism. They were also the first in line for the vaccines, yet they were NOT in the classrooms. Go figure.

        Reply
      2. Mr. T.J. Asper

        As a High School teacher, I can tell you from firsthand experience this is true. Our teacher unions were in the forefront to throw the kids under the bus and collect money for not working. Our unions are highly CORRUPT.

        Reply
        1. Greg Heyman

          — and our Democrat politicans are all in on the corruption.

          Reply

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