“True humility is not thinking less of yourself. It is thinking of yourself less.” – C.S. Lewis
My dad would often remind me, “the wise man knows how little he knows.” That insight did not start to sink in until after my teenage years. It sprouted with my study of psychology and learning that illusory superiority is a cognitive bias in most of us that overestimates our abilities and intelligence. For example, in a Stanford survey of its MBA students, 87% rated themselves as above average academically compared with their peers. Another self-defeating statistic reveals that 55% of Americans believe they are smarter than the average American.
Humility is often defined as meekness but refers to having an open mind and modest opinion of one’s importance. Therefore, it is practiced as a virtue in spiritual traditions around the world as a way to manage the ego and part of a path to self-actualization and transcendence. Now, we have scientific evidence that shows how being intellectually humble actually expands one’s influence, enhances leadership and makes us all-around better people. This article will explore the art and science of humility.
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