Intellectual humility presents itself every day in our lives, in almost every conversation we engage in, we are challenged to bring the best of our intelligence into the encounter. But do we?
When clashing with another human being, there are lots of factors in motion, and we’re inevitably going to disagree on one point or the other.
Disagreeing is not a problem, seeing things from different perspectives is great for growth and problem-solving. but our reaction to the indifference is what’s going to play a key role in our growth. Let’s assess our intellectual humility.
When we reach that point of disagreement with another person, be it something you don’t like, not in harmony with your beliefs, or you just lack the knowledge for it, we clash.
We, humans, are made in a way to react, instant fire back, add to it being scared to admit that we are wrong, or we lack the knowledge in a certain topic. These two come together to create more barriers between us and the other person. These barriers can lead to being defensive, disrespectful, angry, fighting, and worse.
At the end of the day, these behaviors are normal, considering we were programmed since we were kids that if we are right if we give the right answers, we get better grades which ultimately leads to a more successful life whereas being wrong since childhood is associated with embarrassment and disappointment so subconsciously we follow the path of success.
However, this is way deeper than that, in our everyday lives, we encounter people from various backgrounds that possess knowledge we didn’t know existed in the first place so we can never expect to be knowledgeable in every situation that’ll present itself.
And somehow some people are!
Whether it is ego, fear, or low self-esteem the result is one, pretending to know something you don’t will only prevent you from truly increasing your knowledge and widening your perspective, you are standing between your current self and the more educated self you can attain by learning
Let’s take Genghis Khan for example. As mentioned in the book Ego is the enemy, he didn’t have a high level of intelligence, but his persistence to learn was the thing that brought him to his success. Every time he conquers a civilization, he learns its strengths and adapts it as it is, making it his. The more he conquered, the more tools he had at his disposal which makes the next challenge easier.
If you put yourself on the learning path, you will soon realize that past obstacles were only there out of the lack of knowledge to overcome them, and the more you progress on that path, the more you will feel elevated and look at problems from a really wide angle of endless opportunities to turn bad things into better ones.
When you are presented with new knowledge, you are at a crossroads, you can choose to be arrogant, pretend to know, and shy away from the topic altogether, or you can take the best path there is on your life journey, and that is to be humble, ready to get out of the comfort zone of knowing, and delve into places where you are the listener, the student, the least knowledgeable person in the room, and master that path.
To put it in another way, We need to learn the amazing art of responding, it is challenging, but it can be made a habit. When someone presents you with an idea that contradicts your way of thinking, take a step back, analyze it, and put it on par with the evidence you have. Do you feel it is wrong? start debating with the evidence you uncovered.
Most times we will realize that things aren’t black and white, each person has a perspective that more often contradicts another human being, and being wrong or right is not the only way things can go. Taking the time to analyze and respond will bring more perception to your life
When you are comfortable with that feeling of uncertainty and absence of knowledge, you open all the doors there are for yourself to grow. Living all your life in the same bubble of knowledge will not take you anywhere outside that bubble, you will be stuck, going in circles and doing the same thing over again hoping for different results. Being open to learning is the foundation of your success, to properly learn and set yourself on that path of consumption that will keep opening more opportunities to you as you move forward.
Self-improvement never stops, you are not going to be comfortable moving forward, because you’re going to new grounds, but you’ll be happy cause you are progressing towards the goal, embrace that feeling of uncertainty and lack of comfortability.
If you are not learning, you are already dying, funny enough, however, it comes down to one small decision, assessing your intellectual humility. Are you humble when presented with new knowledge? or are you arrogant? do you react? or do you respond?