Humility sucks!

Humility sucks!

Humility is the one of the most over-rated “virtues” in the human race and is a dangerous saboteur of success. Now, before you react indignantly to this, give me a chance to explain why I am such a vehement opponent of humility – read on and all will be revealed.

So humility is defined as “the quality or condition of being humble; modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance, rank, etc.”

The adjective humble is also defined below for completeness.


lowliness, meekness, submissiveness.


1. not proud or arrogant; modest: to be humble although successful.

2. having a feeling of insignificance, inferiority, subservience, etc.: In the presence of so many world-famous writers I felt very humble.

3. low in rank, importance, status, quality, etc.; lowly: of humble origin; a humble home.

4. courteously respectful: In my humble opinion you are wrong.

5. low in height, level, etc.; small in size: a humble member of the galaxy.

Frankly of the above, the only definition I am marginally comfortable with is 4, i.e. “courteously respectful”. As for the rest – subservient, lowly, inferior… – I find them galling and insulting at best. And yet, most of us are brought up to be “humble” and “modest” like it’s a good thing! In my own experience and as many of my clients and acquaintances have confirmed, as children, most of us were encouraged to be humble, not get “too big for our boots / britches”, yada yada yada. (Americans, you may note relate to this as much as Brits & the rest of the Commonwealth).

At the same time however we are expected to “do well”, “make something of ourselves” and generally be independent and financially successful. Here’s the rub – most people who really “do well” financially have incredible self-belief and the ability to promote themselves and their message and/or product and bully for them I say. Modest they’re not, they take credit for their accomplishments and more power to them. Quite often they also are comfortable with not being “liked” by everyone – you can’t please all the people all of the time after all, is the prevailing view.

The problem is, that with the inbred “modesty” so many are afflicted with, taking credit for genuine accomplishments, increasing one’s personal profile, being forthright about ones skills and talents are in direct conflict with the need for humility and all too often, humility wins and the individual loses and feels miserable in the bargain, confused about why the other guy/gal always seems to win.

So I’d like to offer a new, more empowering definition of humility – try it on for size before you reject it out of hand.

Humility – being no more than you are and also being no less than you are. Laying claim to the sum total of your talents and accomplishments and nothing less. Owning all your skills, pleasing attributes and abilities without self-deprecation or false modesty.

Give it a go – get comfortable with being all of you, expressing all of you and projecting all of you – where ever you go, who ever you’re with. That’s authenticity.

Let me know how you get on!

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8 Responses to Humility sucks!
  1. Ron
    November 10, 2010 | 2:18 am


    Love the new definition. Thanks!


  2. Tai
    November 10, 2010 | 6:12 am

    Reminds me of something I just read recently on the very same topic: “Plenty of folks are ready to put you down – no need to give them a hand.”

  3. Erik
    November 10, 2010 | 9:30 am

    Hi Piya,

    Nah, wouldn’t use this particular word but rather modesty to express what I believe is the virtue you are describing.

    Your definition is one that is positive i.e. explaining what you mean instead of the habit of explaining something by saying what it is not. For that I say cheers!

    Have you seen on Youtube/ the piece by Brene Brown call ‘Shame’? What are your thoughts on that?


  4. Earl Wirtjes
    November 30, 2010 | 4:52 am

    What a wonderful theme you have! your weblog articles are quite informative too! Many thanks ;)

  5. Claudia Crawley
    December 7, 2010 | 11:08 am

    Hi Piya, love your article. As a woman humility gets me nowhere. Women are much more likely to be required to be humble and modest, a factor which has kept us ‘in our place’ for too long. It’s time for us to be all that we are and to do so with pride.

  6. Nidhi Joshi
    January 10, 2011 | 11:23 am

    Great article! Really true and I absolutely love your definition of modesty. Have tried it for size and am absolutely keeping it :-)

  7. Aine
    February 7, 2011 | 5:16 pm

    First of all I must say I find your articles very uplifting, honest, well put together, and about all necessary.

    Humanity as you have stated is “very much over-rated”. Yes as children we are taught to be model children which is not what children are really about. They are about expressing themselves regardless of what others think they should do. Being confident as children should in many respects make us confident adults, however, too much is really stacked against us as adults, when you shovel through the crap, stand up for yourself, believe in yourself there will always be others out there who try and knock you down. Self confidence is what makes people successful regardless of what others think of them and for anyone like that out there Piya go for it.

  8. Kristin
    November 11, 2011 | 10:21 am

    Great article! :) I am completely with you!

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