Be humble!

Humility means paying attention fully to what is outside of ourselves

Increasingly, we see humility as an attractive quality in leaders, a quality that inspires confidence that the leader cares for their followers.

But what is humility?

Simone Weil (1909 –1943, a French philosopher and political activist, little noticed in her lifetime, but her ideas became very influential after her death) made the case that humility occurs when we pay full attention to other people.  If all our attention is directed outwards then there is no focus on the self – no ego, no agenda, nothing to defend.

When we keep our attention focused on the other despite what they might say or do then we can do no other than be kind or compassionate.Anything less would reflect attending to our own impulses or reactions.


Thus, true humility is equivalent to the practice of encounter – which is the practice of paying full attention to another, free of judgement or comparison and always responding with kindness or compassion, irrespective of what the other says or does.  Encounter creates the ideal environment for the growth of both parties.  It is encounter that makes a small number of teachers outstanding in their impact on their students.

This is a useful equivalence as we can readily recognise humility, whereas encounter, in the modern age, is less easily identified.  In the Christian religions we admire saints for their humility believing it to be a passive quality when, in fact, it is the active practice of encounter.

Some of our greatest leaders and teachers are admired for their humility when we could, in fact, be emulating their practices.

Being humble means practicing encounter.


John Corrigan is an expert in helping individuals to bring their whole of mind to their daily life and increase their effectiveness and the effectiveness of those around them. This expertise scales from the individual to the team to the organisation. At the core of this work is the practice of encounter.  Earlier blogs can be found here.

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John Corrigan