Be Grateful for Occasional Humiliation

Everywhere you look, there’s some person who will tell you to “stay humble,” right after they tell you how they think you should be living in order to become awesome.

They’re right of course. “Pride goeth before the fall,” and continuing to have humility *after* success is one of the surest ways to see clearly enough to continue having success.

But I don’t think they realize how hard it is to do both.

Success does make humility harder – except in rare cases of people with extraordinary perceptiveness and perspective.

Fortunately, for the rest of us, reality intervenes.

When we’re humiliated by circumstances, or even by other people, we get an early warning sign that perhaps our self-perception is mismatched with reality.

Maybe we’re humiliated by a dance partner when we make a misstep. Maybe we’re humiliated at work by a critical manager. Maybe we’re humiliated on the sports field by an epic fail of a fumble*. Sometimes we’re humiliated by people. Sometimes we humiliate ourselves.

Humiliation sucks. But even the best of us experience it, so we might as well use it for all its worth.

We can reframe the experience of humiliation as a gift. When we fail in the difficult task of “staying humble’ ourselves, these humiliating incidents help to do the work. They remind us that we’re not gods of the universe and that we are limited after all. From there, we can re-adjust, re-work our approaches, and take on our challenges with renewed humility.

And as you may have experienced before, humility goes hand in hand with hunger, drive, and vigor to get things done.

*(Side note: if you want to stay humble, always be a beginner at something. Be trying new things.)

Photo by Amaury Salas on Unsplash

Stay in the know.

Get my best new essays and other occasional news, ideas, or projects delivered in nice, tidy packages once weekly.

James Walpole

James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, and perpetual apprentice. You're reading his blog right now, and he really appreciates it. Don't let it go to his head, though.

Leave a Reply