Time for a slice of humble pie
Do you feel like a failure if you don’t meet a deadline or get the raise you expected?
Many of us measure our success based on achieving the end goal. Whether it’s completing a project, meeting your sales quota or getting a promotion, we are outcome dependent. In our quest to climb the corporate ladder, we become highly competitive, determined and driven.
Yes, it’s important to set a goal and visualize what you want. It’s important to work hard to get there. The problem is when you focus all your energy and put all your hopes on one specific result. Then, when things don’t go as planned, your stress and anxiety levels go through the roof.
The people who bounce back gracefully from life’s disappointments are often labeled “optimistic” or “positive thinkers,” but there’s a different personality trait they all have in common: humility.
The secret to lowering stress and anxiety is looking at the outcome in a humble way. In other words, when you accept that the result may differ from your expectations, you will have less to stress about.
True humility means having a strong sense of self. It means not tying your self-worth to external circumstances beyond your control.
While humility is viewed as a positive trait overall, it is not often associated with success in leadership. But this couldn’t be farther from the truth.
“Many people think of humility as…thinking very little of yourself,” Dr Mike Austin, professor of philosophy at Eastern Kentucky University told The Huffington Post. “It’s more about a proper or accurate assessment. A big part of humility is knowing our own limits, our strengths and weaknesses, morally or otherwise.”
Knowing how to utilize your strengths is an essential component of career success. Humble people also listen to others’ opinions, self-reflect and look at mistakes as learning opportunities.
Even if humility isn’t one of your strong suits, there are a few simple ways you can develop it:
1. Practice self-compassion
When we mess up, or disappoint someone, our natural reaction is to be hard on ourselves, which often results in self-directed anger and low self-esteem. Instead of learning from these events, we beat ourselves up. Do we feel better reliving our disappointments? I don’t. And I don’t think we become better people as a result of beating ourselves up either.
As I grew older, I realized that no one is perfect, especially me. I don’t beat myself up – or at least not as much – when I make mistakes because I try to learn a lesson from every mistake I make. Instead, I try to accept my own humanness, with as much compassion as possible.
2. Embrace your vulnerability
It’s not easy to admit, but I spent a good deal of my life living in fear of being hurt, disappointed or left out. I ran from these feelings, always covering them up, trying to prove I knew something about everything even when I didn’t have a clue, simply to make myself feel as if I belonged.
“I’m not good enough,” or “I’m not worthy” are the limiting beliefs that prevent us from putting ourselves out there, from taking risks that could change our lives. Making yourself vulnerable isn’t easy, but I’ve learned that living in fear is no way to live.
Plus, when you’re authentic, and you speak from your heart, people pick up on that. Because they have nothing to protect or defend, nine times out of ten they will be as authentic as you are.
3. Accept failure as part of the process
As a Virgo, I often joke about being a perfectionist. Highly organized, meticulous, precise – needless to say, my house is always clean. In many ways, I assumed being a perfectionist was a good thing. But the truth is that perfection is more a self-created mirage than an achievable reality.
Perfectionists often set unrealistic goals for themselves. When they’re unable to meet those high standards, they become depressed. This is true because mistakes are magnified in their minds, and it’s difficult for perfectionists to let go and move forward. Ultimately, working under that pressure will lead to burnout. Been there, done that – it’s not a good place to be.
In both your personal and professional life, the secret to success is to let things be without forcing life to conform to rigid expectations. Work with what life offers rather than compulsively trying to control it. Most importantly, try to view failure as a learning opportunity and forgive yourself when you don’t succeed.