I teach a parenting class each weekend and one of the members of my class was interested in gaining insight into how to teach children to be humble. As I researched the topic, I stumbled across a recently published article in The Washington Post titled: Leaders are more powerful when they’re humble, new research shows by Ashley Merryman (You may recognize that name she’s one of the authors of NurtureShock – a great read if you haven’t read it).
HERE’S WHAT I LEARNED:
Researchers have defined that true humility is when an individual has:
- an actual assessment of their strengths and their weaknesses,
- understands that they are a part of something greater than themselves,
- is grounded and liberated by this knowledge, and
- willing to seek input, knowledge, recognizing that their weaknesses are opportunities to gain insight – to improve.
Scientists use the term “intellectually humble” to define individuals who are growth minded, have a strong desire to learn and improve. The intellectually humble (humble leader) like getting new information, embrace the unknown, like change, and are not afraid to seek help. One study found that humble college students have higher academic achievement over their less humble peers.The “intellectually arrogant” (the non-humble leader) are convinced that they are right. They are threatened by new information and determined to prove that they are always right. They never make mistakes (someone else is to blame) and they remove individuals with strong abilities as they perceive them as a threat.To teach our children to be humble we must model our own humility. We must show our children that the growth process involves understanding that we do not always know the answer. That we’re not always right, and that we need the input of others to help us understand and gain insight.The research shows that humble leaders do not dismiss the value of learning and development. The arrogant leader on the other hand dismisses growth, pays attention only to information that confirms their perspective and refuses to apologize.
Arrogance and humility are both contagious and can be taught. Let’s be sure we’re teaching humility.
“Being humble means recognizing that we are not on earth to see how important we can become, but to see how much difference we can make in the lives of others.” – Gordon B. Hinckley
Sallie Wells, Head of School