Humility. I’m aware that this may not be the first trait that comes to mind when people think of me, mostly because it’s the least obvious ingredient in my content. When you have tenacity, conviction, and a communication style like mine, it’s easy for people to confuse your passion for ego. Actually, humility has been a ridiculously key ingredient for me, and it’s equally key for any leader who wants to sustain success.
As many of you know, legacy is something that’s incredibly important to me, and I believe that having humility is a core component of building a lasting legacy and positive reputation. Sure, many can be “successful” in terms of money and achievements, but how successful are you really if you’re leading with ego and the people who know you the best think that you’re the worst?
For me, humility is about having an accurate view of yourself. Despite all the cheers and praise, I never think that I’m any better than anyone else. Humility allows me to have all-time ambitions for my career, while still understanding just how little I — or any human being — mean in the grand scheme of things. It allows me to take risks and change my mind because I don’t place too much importance on being “right.” It helps me to not dwell on mistakes because I understand everything I do isn’t gonna be successful and I can change directions at any time.
Basically, humility adds a necessary balance that’s especially important for the super-ambitious.
What is Humility?
A modest or low view of one’s own importance; humbleness.
I actually hate this definition. I agree that humility is about having a modest view of yourself, one that’s fair… but I don’t like the idea of this being a “low” view. Fuck that.
“My definition of humility would be ‘a comfort in one’s own understanding of one’s position in the world.’ I feel that’s more accurate.” – Twelve and a Half: Leveraging the Emotional Ingredients Necessary for Business Success
You don’t have to think “low” of yourself to have humility; I’m a perfect example. People often misunderstand several of these emotional ingredients as opposites…for instance, humility and conviction. Take it from me, you can have both, and in fact, it’s deploying these traits in the right balance and the right context that makes all the difference.
Humility doesn’t work against my ambitious nature — in fact, it works with it. When you’re humble enough not to put yourself on a pedestal, you follow your curiosities, you’re accountable to your mistakes, and you remember that no matter how much you’ve accomplished, you’re still “just getting started.” It’s funny, people who come across my content might identify me most strongly with the more aggressive traits — the ones that have more teeth, like tenacity and conviction. Funnily enough, I think the opposite is true! I don’t want to…but if I were forced to rank the ingredients in Twelve and a Half, I’d actually place humility and curiosity above those two!
Humility Makes Me Feel Safe to Lose
Of course, I’d rather win than lose…but I think it’s my willingness to lose that means I’ll always win.
A lot of people say they will do “whatever it takes” to follow their dreams, but how far are you actually willing to go? Are you willing to spend three hours to learn something new that might not work out? Are you willing to do your homework on NFTs or a new social platform? If you are, then you have a real shot of making your dream work, but most people aren’t willing to get that dirty. Why? Because they don’t want to “lose.”
I’m the opposite. Humility actually makes me feel safe to lose. If I woke up tomorrow and all my businesses went to zero, I’d be totally okay. I’d have no problem taking accountability for however I got there, downgrading my lifestyle, and starting over from the bottom to rise like a phoenix…In fact, I’d even enjoy it. The truth is that when you don’t listen to the cheers or the boos, you have nothing to lose. It makes it easier to follow your passions and take calculated risks. Most importantly, it makes it easier to deploy self-love even when those risks don’t work out.
Ultimately, humility means that I’m not devastated by the losses and I also don’t get “high” off the wins.
Ask yourself, are you humble enough to take a step backwards?
Are you willing to take a step backwards in your lifestyle to take a huge step forward for the rest of your life?
There are too many people out there working jobs they hate just to pay for a lifestyle to impress others. They have fancy houses, fancy cars, and take fancy trips, but they hate their lives Monday through Friday just because they won’t deploy the humility to downgrade. Sometimes less money now means more happiness later. Sometimes it means more time to spend working towards your actual dreams of starting a YouTube channel, or launching a podcast, or starting a business.
So many of you are standing in the way of your own happiness because you lack the humility to look like you’ve “lost” in front of family and friends. You’re willing to put off your actual dreams just to flex for other people. But let me ask you this…it’s your dream. What the fuck does that have to do with anyone else?
Humility leads to happiness …when you realize that you don’t mean shit (I sure don’t), then you aren’t worried about people’s judgement over your losses. I mean it — the world will always turn regardless, and that’s a good thing! It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t strive for greatness, but it does mean you shouldn’t overthink shit. In the end, none of it matters, and that’s why humility is a super power that leads to calmness. Use it!
Humility Gives You a Competitive Edge
Let there be no confusion…I feel safe to lose, but I still love to win. Whether in sports or in business, I get a huge rush from the “I told you so,” and humility is actually a seriously underrated tool. When you have humility, you have speed. You’re quicker to take calculated risks in business, you’re quicker to say “yes” where other people say “no,”, and you’re quicker to pivot when you need to.
Having the humility to address and acknowledge your mistakes allows you to move quickly and make decisions, which in turn gives you enormous advantages in business and more importantly life overall.— Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee) April 28, 2019
Everyone is worried about their mistakes, not yours, stop overthinking it
“When you have a fair, modest view of yourself, you have a significant advantage over others, because you’re willing to do what they aren’t.” – Twelve and a Half: Leveraging the Emotional Ingredients Necessary for Business Success
Every day, I am stunned by how many people don’t match their actions to their aspirations. They say they have aspirations to win, to crush it…but they live in the world of “no.” At this point, I have achieved enormous things, and still, every day I deploy humility to keep saying “yes.” I’ll download a new app just to taste it. I’ll learn about NFTs and research countless projects, even when the world is still saying it’s “just a fad.” Having the humility to “waste my time” has been how I’ve won throughout my entire career.
You don’t decide…the market does
Part of my humility comes from understanding that the market always decides. You can think you’re the best entrepreneur alive, but if people aren’t buying your product or service, they’re right and you’re wrong. You can think your content is the best out there, but if no one’s watching or listening, the truth is that it must suck. Of course, it takes a real commitment of time and effort before you can make the final call, but if you’ve been working at something for years and years and no one’s interested, you have your answer.
If the market decides you’re crap, it doesn’t mean it’s time to beat yourself up or dwell on your failures. All it means is that you get to do things differently. Having humility gives you the freedom to start things many won’t, but it also gives you the freedom to start over.
“Because of my humility, I don’t feel the need to stay consistent with decisions I’ve made. I can change my opinion in two seconds, and I do it all the time.” – Twelve and a Half: Leveraging the Emotional Ingredients Necessary for Business Success
This mentality goes for everything — even the things I’m excited about. Everyone knows I’m bullish on NFTs, but if my priorities change one day, I’m 100% willing to shift my focus.
When you come from a family and beginnings like mine, you can never forget where you came from…but no matter how much success I have, I will never overestimate my importance in the grand scheme of things. For all those with big ambitions and big conviction, remember that humility is the trait to balance you out.
Thank you for reading. I would love to know what you thought about this week’s blog post. Leave me your two cents on Twitter @garyvee.