On Humility

Posted on: Fri, 06/02/2017 - 04:00 By: dusty

I was recently called out for lacking humility and failing to accept blame; i was unapologetic. I found it interesting because I always make mistakes, and it seems I’m always apologizing or rationalizing my actions. So let’s dote on that for a little bit:

In the course of my vocation, I am continuously finding myself in new positions, faced with previously unknown challenges, where I am expected to perform. I cannot rely on preconceived notions of “how things should be” when I enter the room; Company A is so much different than Company B, Staff C, and Closed Area D. All are unique and won’t fit to our ideals. Will these square pegs fit in my round hole? When I find myself knocking at a new door, I remind myself “this is not about me,” I have no idea how things here got to be how they are, and I have no idea what these people’s perspective is: all of this must be understood prior to me doing my job effectively. It is a humbling process I must go through, checking myself at the door, and understanding alternate perspectives, so i can make the proper educated decision and appropriately evaluate whats going on.

Also in the course of my vocation, I must display a high level of confidence. In this industry, to show a crack in your resolve, put yourself in an un-defendable position, or wavering on a decision: they will eat you alive! I do exude confidence professionally; it is practiced and intentional. My confidence is mostly backed up by subject matter expertise. In areas where I do not have expertise, I have no problem admitting I don’t know, or am not shy about playing the odds (I’m a solid 9/10 on most things).

When it comes to the air of confidence one displays, many conclude you are cocky, self-important, etc; nay-sayers dismiss how much effort goes into maintaining the professional persona. The nay-sayers are not part of the select few allowed to lift the veil of confidence, of which only family, friends, and select co-workers are. If only they knew the silly things you did for your wife, or how much your kids laughed at (and with) you…

When it comes to accepting blame, I’m pretty sure I accept any blame that is due me. I take great ownership (see Core Values above) of situations I’ve created and mistakes that I’ve made. I call myself out pretty regularly when a mistake is made, apologize, and move on. Some people would expect me to accept blame for things that I have no control over. When I defend myself, the response was “Oh, you think I’m to blame?!?” No, I had no intention of placing blame at all. I understand how cause and effect work; I understand stimuli and response, I understand human nature: I understand some things just happen and there is no blame to be had. I understand if 10 hours of work don’t get done in an 8 hour work day, there is no one to blame. The earth for turning too fast? Society for the 8 hour work day cultural norm? I am far from innocent, however I have no intention of accepting blame on behalf of the entire world.

I had presumed everyone had the ability to shift their perception; to see things differently and understand conflict through another person’s eyes. I think what led to me being called out for a lack of humility was the other person not shifting their perspective to mine and realizing my point of view. They expected an apology instead of an explanation. In such scenarios, when you rationalize your actions instead of apologize, the nay-sayer quickly concludes you are not a humble person. You can be humble and steadfast in your position. Sorry.