Humble people make you want to give up your day job and follow them around so you can learn what they do.

Photo by Morning Brew on Unsplash

Author: Tim Denning

There are plenty of people from a business point of view that you’ll want to run a mile from. A humble person is probably not one of them.

We’ve all met the guy who can’t stop talking about himself and how amazing his software company is. Or the person who works for the company with all the perks many of us could only dream of having access to like free lunch every day. Humble people in business are different.

Humble people make you want to give up your day job and follow them around so you can learn what they do.

A humble person in business doesn’t focus on revenue, their company or themselves.

They make it all about the person they are interacting with

It feels good in business to be cared for.

Business is so transactional that the feeling of care is often thrown out the window in pursuit of revenue.

If only it was widely understood that humble people are rare, and revenue would go through the roof if humility was taught and implemented at every company. Sales training could simply be replaced with a three-step humility guide to business.

Step 1: It’s not about you and your career, big shot.

Step 2: Interact at the same level, not at a higher level (job titles, education, company brands, personality tests, and business attire contribute to the problem).

Step 3: Shut up and listen.

They don’t need to dominate the conversation

The person who talks the most isn’t the most important.

Humble people can sit back and relax. They can get lost in the conversation which allows them to understand the business problem at a far deeper level than all the other jerks who flex their ego muscles and miss the point.

They are happy to be a fly on the wall

A humble person loves nothing more than being a fly on a wall. They seek out rooms full of people smarter than them because they treat business like one giant learning program. The goal is to learn first, not earn.

When you learn, you earn more than you could ever imagine.

Humble people match their KPIs to the person they are trying to help. If that person wins, then they win.

They hand out acts of kindness

Humble people in business believe they have enough. They’re not trying to get more every day of the week.

This exposes them to random acts of kindness. They gift their time or skills to people who might need them without always needing to be paid for every minute of the day and slapping the “work” label over the top of everything.

You can have a conversation and not return to the office with a sales order.

Kindness is underrated. When business folk spot it, and they know it’s genuine, they run towards the humble person generous enough to gift their time for a cause greater than themselves.

They keep it together

When their ego is bruised, they don’t get crazy angry and burn the office down.

By thinking slightly less of themselves, they expect their ego to take a bashing every once in a while. They are even bold enough to make fun of their ego and their need to feel important occasionally.

When it’s not all about you, you can take tough situations lying down.

Protecting your ego is hard work. It’s an impossible war to win.

They are ridiculously open-minded

In other words, they find ways to deal with problems that nobody else has dared contemplate.

The open-mindedness comes from being okay with being wrong.

Whether it’s the commercial model or the structure of the project — they’re always willing to listen and see if there is another way. That’s how deals that look impossible get done.

Their view changes

What worked in business ten years ago may not apply today. That’s why experience is overrated.

Many egotistical imbeciles use their experience as an excuse to do everything their way, thus missing all the opportunity.

Experience can be an excuse for someone’s inflated ego.

Humble people see change and are even bold enough to see when they are blocking that change from occurring. Humble people know that they could be in the way — and they get out of the way if required.

They deliberately help others win

The humble person in business is not solely focused on their own career.

They get a thrill out of working together with others. This means as their career grows, so do the careers of those they do business with.

This looks like secret mentoring, putting in a good word for someone, making that intro for the hell of it, and saying yes to the occasional conversation with a cold caller/emailer.

They go out of their way to see others win because they’ve learned that’s how they will eventually win.

In my career, I don’t meet many humble people like this. But when I do, we often end up becoming life-long friends. This is because if you want to be more humble, one way is to spend more time with humble people.

My favorite humble person in business got demoted. He had the leadership role he’d worked for more than twenty years to obtain, stripped from him during a split-second decision one afternoon.

He was asked to train his replacement and work closely with them for 4 years. Instead of complaining, he used humility to learn and grow from the experience. In the end, the person that replaced him helped him get a leadership role where he had a team of more than two hundred people — up from the team of four people he led before his demotion.

Whenever I feel like I’m being an ass in business, I ring him for a lesson in humility.

People are dying to do business with humble people because not worshipping money, job titles, status, company logos, and inflated egos is so rare.

The opportunities in business reveal themselves to humble people who can take the focus off themselves, and make the other side the hero.