Being a Woman in Business - Who is Humble

Humility is probably the last thing that you think you need in business.  It is the most underrated but crucial business asset.  It’s not a weakness, it is a strength.  A weak person does not have what it takes to humble themselves, it truly requires great strength to put your pride in your pocket and make yourself appear lower.  The dictionary defines humility as modesty or meekness and the antonym is arrogance.  True humility however, isn’t lowering yourself for the sake of keeping up appearances, but it is to do so for the sake of serving others.  If you are humble it doesn’t mean that you have a low opinion of yourself but rather than you choose to lower yourself.  Humility comes from the Greek word tapeinoo which means to depress; figuratively, to humiliate in condition or heart. 

Humility isn’t about thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less. 
- C.S. Lewis

"The difference between arrogance and confidence is self-awareness," says Jason Mendelson, founder and managing director of the Foundry Group. "The confident leader is self-aware of their customer's needs, their company's culture and the rapid changes that occur in their industry."

Humility vs. Arrogance

Arrogance Talks too Much
In the multitude of words sin is not lacking...  - Proverbs 10:19

Arrogant people spend too much time talking and too little time listening.  This means that they never understand the people that they are doing business with and they never know their customers’ needs.  Talking too much can also mean that you put your foot in ‘it’ too easily, that you are not thinking before you speak, that you don’t really care what anyone else has to say and that you could miss out on fantastic opportunities.  I wonder how many arrogant business women have missed a million pound idea that one of their staff or customers had because they didn’t take the time to listen.  A great business is never the result of one person, it is always the result on many people’s contributions. 

Humility Listens
...But he who restrains his lips is wise.  - Proverbs 10:19

The best leaders are the best listeners.  Humble people tend to take time to listen to what people have to say and they really try and hear what is being said too.  They seem quiet but actually there is wisdom in their quietness.  Great ideas are born in a room where humble people listen and ponder on what is being said by others. McDonald's golden arches are here today the result of Ray Kroc listening to the advice of others.  In the 60’s Ray wanted to update McDonald’s image and one of his ideas was to get rid of the golden arches and coming up with a new logo.  The golden arches are still here today because he took time to listen.

Arrogance Takes Credit
The arrogant one will stumble and fall and no one will help her up  - Jeremiah 50:32

Arrogance is a very lonely life to live.  People might tolerate an arrogant person because they have to but when they fall most people will feel happy because they needed knocking down to size a bit.  Few people will reach out to an arrogant person who falls.   Why?  Well one of the reasons could be that when credit was due the arrogant person took it all for themselves!  No one likes to see one person take all credit, especially if it means that the person who really deserved the credit misses out. 

Humility Gives Credit
Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honour to whom honour.  - Romans 13:7

It is right to give credit where credit is due and honour where honour is due.  A humble person will never take credit or expect honour, they will always give it to others.  Similarly, when there is blame the humble person will always take full responsibility rather than point the finger at someone else.  What is more powerful than a woman in business who can stand in front of others and admit that the failure was hers?  By admitting you are wrong, by taking blame, you will find that you have more committed followers not less.   

Arrogance is Insecure
God resists the proud  - James 4:6

Most arrogant women are insecure.  Deep down inside they don’t feel good enough, they don’t feel worthy, they don’t feel competent or they feel that they don’t fit in.  Insecurity can come in many forms and stem from many reasons but nine times out of ten, you will find that arrogant women are insecure.  Most women will resist an arrogant woman in business but as Christian women in business we would do well to be kind and understanding.  This is not an easy task and not all arrogant women will be ready to receive your kindness, the Bible says that even God resists the proud! Perhaps in our humility we could help her too become secure and humble. 

Humility is Secure
But gives grace to the humble.  - James 4:6

A humble woman is secure enough to recognise her weaknesses and to seek the input or skills of those around her. She is self-aware, not weighed down with insecurities, and is not consumed by what people think about her.  Her humility makes her attractive which will not only attract the right clients but will also give her favour with suppliers and staff.  She will have grace wherever she goes – no one can resist a humble woman.  Quiet confidence inspires others to give their best to her in every area of her life.

Practicing Humility
Humility is something you can learn and grow in.  If you think you are humble then you are not!  A humble person will not know that they are humble at all.  Here are some guidelines to grow in humility:

  1. Be Honest:  Practice honesty at all times even in the tiniest details! There is no such thing as a white lie.   Most importantly, let people know that you don’t have all the answers.  When you don’t know something, say so.

  2. Admit Mistakes: Admitting you are wrong is always a positive thing to do.  People respect those that can and do admit when they have made a mistake.  Owning up to a mistake can have many benefits for your business. It not only show that you are a human being but it also gives people compassion for you and makes customers more willing to partner with you.

  3. Apologise:  Saying sorry takes courage and humility but the more you do it the easier it becomes.

  4. Give Credit:  One of the best ways to stay humble is to reflect credit to others.  As soon as you are tempted to absorb the credit you will run the risk of becoming arrogant.  David Packard, the co-founder of Hewlett-Packard, says, "You shouldn't gloat about anything you've done; you ought to keep going and find something better to do."

"Humility is a virtue all preach, none practice; and yet everybody is content to hear."
- John Selden

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