Friday, October 11, 2019

Lean Quote: Confidence is the Backbone of True Humility

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.


"Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it's thinking of yourself less." — C. S. Lewis

Charismatic. Inspirational. Decisive. Focused. Passionate.

These are some qualities that people attribute to great leadership. All of these have an underlying tone of strength behind it, and understandably so, we need leaders to be strong. Here’s the problem, all of the above characteristics will never reach its full potential to positively influence people if the leader is self-centered.

C.S. Lewis has a great way of explaining this. He says, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” This concept of thinking of yourself less, however, is totally counterintuitive. We strive to love others the way we love ourselves, because while we may not be great at loving others, we are great at loving ourselves. 

There’s an innate sense of self-centeredness that exists at the core of our beings. After all, it helps us survive. We need affirmation, encouragement, praise, and acknowledgement. We need to know we have value. We need to know we have worth. The problem with bringing self-centeredness into a leadership role is that leaders are tasked with influencing other people. The description alone takes the spotlight off of ourselves and onto those we are leading. It’s hard to influence other people if we’re constantly focused on ourselves — the focus must be on them.


I have found that those who possess true humility firmly know that they have value and worth. These people are some of the most confident people I’ve encountered, not by arrogance or conceit, but in unwavering stability and assurance. This gives them the capacity to be focused on others focused. They don’t always seek out attention because their identity isn’t derived from outside praises and credentials alone. They credit others for success and take responsibility for failures. They admit their weaknesses and seek help when needed. They listen and don’t feel the need to always dominate the conversation. They empower others around them. They lead by example. Ultimately, they care for those who they are leading, which leads to greater trust, and trust to greater loyalty. People want to follow these type of leaders. This is what confidence looks like. Confidence is the backbone to true humility, and humility is the single greatest strength you can exhibit as a leader.


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