I see humility as a form of open mindedness and willingness to alter a point of view as new information comes to hand – more than just modesty and unpretentiousness.
Self deprecation, insecurity or lack of confidence should not be confused with humility. Humility is a positive trait. In fact, in order to be truly humble we need to be confident enough to consider the possibility that we might be wrong and ‘big enough’ to make amends if this is the case.
The value of humility is that it keeps us grounded and in touch with changing realities. It is an acknowledgement that our life experience and perspective is necessarily limited and that there is always more to learn.
If we have a humble disposition we will keep testing our assumptions as to what we regard as ‘facts’ and not rely on an old view when the situation has changed. Humility is also about being a good listener and exploring a range of perspectives before coming to conclusions.
Successful people need to be especially aware of the need for humility. Many a downfall has its origins in a growing arrogance ( loss of humility) arising from success. Successful people can easily fall victim to the praise and flattery of others.This can lead to a growing misplaced sense of invincibility, impaired judgement and excessive risk taking, typical of many of the corporate collapses of recent years.
Our ego can be very clever and subtle in the way it undermines our sense of humility. So constant vigilance is required. It helps if we surround ourselves with supportive but independent minded people who will challenge us. Of course, we will need to be humble enough to listen !