How do you start your day?
I was intrigued in reading David Brooks’ latest work – The Road to Character – that he referenced a practice I used to use and had lain aside. Invigorated to see it agian, I started re-using this tested tool and offer it to you: what I call a daily dose of humility.
Humility of course is out of fashion. In a society where we tweet and post and link our smallest achievements – Going to work today! – self-promotion has lost all sense of proportion and meaning. Yet humility endures as a tool.
Humility is not denigration. It is not subsumming oneself. It is not putting oneself down.
It is the act and art of thinking how you can have more of an impact in the manner or way you prefer.
For me, humility is thinking about how I can empathize and influence people both more and more positively. How I can have the impact I want in the manner I want, without unnecessary side effects.
Brooks references a daily inventory or review of behaviors one would like to change. Maybe written, perhaps just mentally catalogued, the daily dose (as I call it) is simply a review of the key impact points over the last 24 hours. How did I approach people? Positively, negatively?
In so doing I can extend behaviors I enjoyed – interactions consistent with my values – and call out areas where I could have done better. Importantly, the way I use daily dose has nothing to do with self-admonishment or flagellation. Like you perhaps, I don’t need any help in getting down on myself.
I have worked for years to find a more adult, equitable way of being with myself and being real without pejorative. I don’t use the daily dose to beat myself up but rather to gently guide me and course correct so I can modify my behaviors and actions just a little every day creating the presence I truly believe in.
Think of it as real-time self feedback.
The daily dose doesn’t beat me up so much as set me up.
In work, life and love a simple dispassionate review of the previous 24 hours can be helpful to developing the impact in your life you desire. We all make mistakes and left turns, but much like the man who refuses to look at the map (yes, I know that’s a sexist stereotype) and continues to make worse and worse directional choices, it’s the unwillingness to review our behavior that ultimately comprises us because those very unwanted behaviors are likely to continue left unchecked.
So, take a few moments before bed in the evening or reflect with a cup of coffee in the morning (my favorite time) and think about your behaviors and impact over the last 24 hours. A daily dose of humility – as in, what could I have done better? – can have immediate and long-lasting effects in your professional and personal life.
Enjoy your day, and think about how might have improved it, even if just a little, tomorrow. Take your daily dose.