One quality we try to foster at Sea Change is humility–in everyone involved in the school, whether it be student, teacher, staff or board member. What does humility mean and why do we foster it? Many common definitions talk about having a low opinion of yourself–and that is not what we mean at all.
To me, humility is the quality of being mindfully respectful of others. It is the opposite of being entitled, aggressive, arrogant, boastful, or vain. Rather than, “Me first,” humility says, “No, you first, my friend.”
This does not mean that we do not stand up for our principles–when someone acts dishonestly, arrogantly, with hurtful intent or counter to any of the values we hold dear, we call them on it. When we see injustice or inequality–in our little circle at our school, or work, or in our world–we stand against it. But it is always done with an attitude of respect for the person we are mindfully calling out.
So why humility? In short, it improves how we succeed in the world, and at the same time contributes to our happiness while we achieve that success.
Friendships. relationships, teams and marriages are seriously harmed by people who act out of arrogance, selfishness, anger and a lack of respect to others. Those attitudes cause harmful words to be spoken, which can create lasting resentment, and ultimately intense suffering for all involved. When people have disharmonious relationships, they cannot have good friendships, relationships, or be good team members. And they are unhappy.
Humility can avoid all those negative results. Humility engenders the opposite qualities— such as courtesy, patience, kindness and respect. A demeanor of humility is exactly what is needed to live in peace and harmony others. Humility allows us to see the dignity and worth of all people, and distinguishes the wise compassionate leader from the arrogant money or power-seeker.
It is no accident that humility is called out as an essential quality in great leaders (such as in Good to Great, by Collins), or in ideal team players (such as in The Ideal Team Player by Lencioni). Acting with humility increases our success in the world, as well as our happiness in it.
Acting with humility does not in any way deny our own self- worth. Rather, it affirms the inherent worth of all persons, including yourself. But it fosters a constant effort to treat others with respect and kindness.
If that happened every day, with every person, with every interaction, what a different world this would be. This is the world we try to create at Sea Change.