Moral character

Assets | Humility

1. Highlights

Humility involves being willing to honestly evaluate our own abilities, beliefs, experiences and privileges. Because humility requires self-reflection, humility goes hand-in-hand with honesty. This means accepting both our strengths and weaknesses and recognizing the limits of our knowledge.

Use self-reflection and honesty to accept our strengths and weaknesses

Recognize the limits of our own knowledge and be willing to change our minds

Be open to new ideas, information, and creative approaches

While we might, in fact, have some answers — and honest humility doesn’t shy away from that possibility — none of us ever have all the answers, and we need to be open to the views and perspectives of others, recognizing that we have much to learn from those who are different from us. Similarly, gratitude emerges for others when we recognize the value they bring and the ways in which we can work in teams and play off each other’s strengths.

Because we never have all the answers, finding the best solutions to the challenges we face requires that we learn about our own biases and shortcomings. And that requires hearing from people who have different ways of seeing our world. It requires thinking about how perspectives that differ from our own should affect our own assumptions and beliefs. When we listen with open minds to how others may view the world differently, we often find that we, ourselves, are part of the problem and that solving that problem requires being willing to accept that the change must begin inside of us. Addressing challenges in ways that “create positive change for humanity” — practicing Principled Innovation — means we must be open to new ideas, quality information, and divergent, creative approaches. We all need to have the intellectual humility to admit that we don’t have all the answers.

Humility requires a genuine curiosity for the world and for others.
Humility means recognizing that we have much to learn from those who are different from us.

2. Context

Humility means recognizing that we have much to learn from those who are different from us.

3. Resources

Select one of our featured resources or visit the PI toolkit library for more tools.

How humility will make you the greatest person ever


  10 minutes

  By: Greater Good Science Center

To unite the country, we need honesty and courage


  10 minutes

  By: Boston Globe, Robert P. George and Cornel West

Intellectual humility


  3 minutes

  By: John Templeton Foundation

Notice, think, feel, do


  5 minutes

  By: Principled Innovation™ (PI)

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