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The Importance of Maintaining the Appearance of Humility in Your Business

Updated on January 4, 2013

Humility is the quality of being unpretentious, not arrogant or overly proud. Maintaining the appearance of humility convinces everyone around you that you are a real person, conscious of your limits and place. It shows people that you pay them respect and that you do not overstep your boundaries. It also has the added benefit of reminding you of your humble beginnings. When your plans take off, it is tempting to let your ego take off with them. Be wary of this doomed fate. Humility is a good quality to include in your business ethic, because it will keep you from getting so comfortable with your direct route to success that you let go of the steering wheel.

While you (i.e., your company) are still small, act small. When you get big, still act small.

Maintaining the appearance of humility trains you to see yourself as a small part of something bigger a cog in the wheel. When the company grows, your arrogance does not grow proportionally Most CEOs and high-level executives strive not to seem arrogant, since their track records and performance histories speak for themselves. There is no need to sing your own praises; it works much better when you allow people to ask you questions, and let the answers do the impressing.

Take Bill Gates, for example. On any television appearance (and there are few), you will notice that the man is very understated in his demeanor. He is soft-spoken and courteous. He can take a joke and is in no rush to divulge his personal financial information. It is said that he wears jeans to the office. This does not mean that he may not be a shrewd, cutthroat, intelligent businessperson. But he feels no need to prove anything, and neither should you. Humility is not about bowing your head and putting yourself down, it is about being comfortable with yourself and not having anything to prove. If you train yourself to incorporate this virtue into your business ethic, you will be that much better off.

We won't go so far as to say that people want to see you fail, but they will definitely shed fewer tears for a braggart than for a humble guy. You must appreciate the value of people's support and overall interest in your success. Be confident, not cocky. The higher you build your personal pedestal, the less humble you will appear, and the farther you will fall. It is better to have a stool, and friends to help support the legs, than to have a towering pedestal, and no one who cares to catch you if you fall.


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