Humble Pie: Part 7 of the Food Pyramid

Humble pie.  Tastewise, it may be on the same level as Popeye’s spinach and brussels sprouts.  But an extra helping or two might just be what the doctor ordered.

It’s a fine tightrope to walk between possessing complete self-confidence and complete conceitedness.  But possessing humility is a rare asset. 

By tossing the gem of humility in your toolbox, you’ll find that you’re learning, not to mention hearing, much more than before.  Throughout my summer at the Kauffman Foundation, I was continually both humbled by and struck by the humility of those that surrounded me.  Whether in a contained work environment or between the streets of South University and State, it’s all too easy to trip up on your tightrope of confidence + conceitedness.  

As a very wise Munro Richardson of the Kauffman Foundation has once guided me:

Be willing to say “I don’t know.”  Don’t worry about perceptions.  There is little admiration for those with an answer for everything–instead, try practicing listening.  You might come across a golden nugget you wouldn’t have had you only been practicing answering.  

In classes, tests, and exams, we’re consistently punished for saying “I don’t know.”  Yet avoiding such an admission is avoiding a learning opportunity.  We’re taught that the Hermione Grangers of the world are the ones to emulate, yet why is that she plays a supporting role in many of her adventures?

From the words of Danny O'Neill of the Roasterie Coffee:

Put on your sales hat and ask, “What can I do for you?”  Sellers and consultants are most often pegged as ‘good with people.’  They’re willing to step back, eliminating the “I,” and reconsider whose agenda is on the table.  Expect to give and take.  Too often, we are so wrapped up in our own goals that the true reciprocated value of a potential relationship is lost in the glories of “networking,” of overeagerly selling our personal wants.

And finally, with the help of Munro:

Pick your fights and pick your buttons wisely. In class discussions, team meetings, weekly updates, and more, that knee-jerk reaction to speak out against a differing opinion or idea may spill over in negativity or overconfidence.  Put in your own cost benefit analysis–is it worth it to pick this fight?  Rather than insisting on your way or the highway, will it pay off to play devil’s advocate instead—rooting for the underdog?  Will it pay off to compromise?  Put yourself in another’s shoes.  What’s the root cause of this opinion?

Jumping at every opening to argue your way might feel like a win, but you may load up on a large dose of backfiring.  By lending yourself to such situations, you’ve automatically labeled yourself as the overbearing antagonist.  Instead of being a problem pointer, try being a problem solver.  Sure, a dose of compromise doesn’t seem to serve as the tastiest complement to humble pie, but perhaps it will pave the way to a stronger relationship.  A new relationship is like a new hire—you need to be willing to provide guidance and commitment to make it work.

There’s no right or wrong way to go about snagging your very own slice of humble pie—and keep in mind, just like with any of Grannie’s famous pies, humble pie is simply pie; a dessert, not a substantial meal.  A small amount goes a long, long way, whether you’re headed to class, to an interview, or to a meeting and more.