Humble people don’t think less of themselves, they just think of themselves less. Some of the best networkers I know are humble. In fact, many of the most successful people I’ve ever met have been remarkably humble. I believe that being humble and being successful don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
I remember going to a political function in my late teens. I had decided that I wanted to pour myself into a campaign for a particular individual whose platform I appreciated. Then… I met him. I was introduced to him by someone high up in his campaign. As soon as he learned that I was a lowly college student, I almost immediately lost his attention. His eyes were darting across the room looking for someone more successful than me. He ended up being very dismissive and came across as incredibly arrogant. After that encounter, I decided not to help in his campaign. Instead, I picked someone running for a different office. This person was engaging and friendly. He was respectful with people that didn’t “appear” to have much to offer. He spoke with everyone, rich or poor, educated or uneducated. He welcomed my involvement in his campaign. Within six months, I ended up running his entire regional campaign office. I put in hundreds of hours in that campaign and helped this person win office. This experience taught me a lot about the kind of leader I wanted to be as I became more successful in life.
Humility costs nothing but yields amazing returns. Being humble sounds simple enough, but what does that actually look like? There are many things that can help someone show their humility. Here are a list of a few that I think are important.
1. First and foremost, their ego does not enter the room before they do.
2. They are approachable, meaning that they are friendly and easy to talk to.
3. They listen and ask questions during a conversation.
4. They maintain eye contact in a conversation and stay engaged in the discussion. They show genuine interest.
5. They are comfortable making people feel at ease and thanking people when appropriate.
6. Humble individuals tend to have an “abundance mentality” and they tend to focus on solutions rather than simply rail about problems.
7. They are situationally aware and have strong emotional intelligence.
8. They are not self-absorbed. They know their strengths and are comfortable with who they are, but they don’t behave as though the world revolves around them.
9. Most importantly, they practice what I call “Givers Gain®.” They approach life with a certain amount of altruism and strive to make a difference for others.
As we become more successful in life, it’s critical to maintain one’s humility. We’ve all met people whose ego enters the room before they do. They behave in a pompous manner and generally expect to be the center of attention most of the time. In the long run, I don’t believe this serves people well.
No one is perfect with this all the time. The process is a journey, not a destination. It is something we must always strive for. At large networking events, I know that I’ve had a good day when people share with me that they are surprised at how easy I was to talk to or that they felt that I came across like a regular person. I believe that there is a “regular person” in all of us. Showing that person to others, is part of being humble.
If you achieve success in business, strive to shatter people’s expectations and demonstrate real humility. Be someone who is engaging and caring, as well as knowledgeable and successful.
Above all, remember that humble people don’t think less of themselves, they just think of themselves less.
About Dr. Ivan Misner
Called the “father of modern networking” by CNN, Dr. Ivan Misner is a New York Times bestselling author. He is also the Founder & Chief Visionary Officer of BNI (www.bni.com), the world’s largest business networking organization. His latest book, Who’s in Your Room, The Secret to Creating Your Best Life, is available at bookstores and at Amazon.com. Dr. Misner is a 2020 Thought Leader on BestEverYou.com