Nelson Mandela once said, “If you want the cooperation of humans around you, you must make them feel important—and you do that by being genuine and humble.”
Humility and genuineness are not attributes often paired together. Genuineness is thought of as representing yourself, while humility is connoted as strict self-denial.
Let’s consider humility. We live in a day and age that thrives on self-promotion. The ones who seem to thrive are the people who are the flashiest, the strongest, the coolest, or even the cutest. What is popular can often be seen as what is “right” or correct.
Humility is often misconstrued as being weak or subservient. People who are humble are dismissed because they don’t have anything amusing or clever to offer to the world. In fact, it is easy to think of them as unhappy because they don’t seek the world’s definition of happiness.
True humility doesn’t always look like that. In fact, true humility does not always mean going out of your way to be different or better than normal. It does not ask for applause and praise. People who are truly humble don’t push others to say that they are “right.” Sometimes even people who think that the way they live is more “humble” can be caught up in being self-righteous.
Instead, think of being humble as being willing to allow others to live their own way, or even to give them the benefit of a doubt. Think of it as allowing someone else to have a different point of view.
That is where being genuine comes into play. To be genuine is to be your best self. You are still honest and open with others about who you are and what you do. People who are “fake” try too hard to get attention and approval by being something they are not. But people who are genuine and humble let go of their own agendas.
From one perspective, being genuine means the same thing as being “authentic”: being true to who you really are and what you want. However, that is not the same as thoughtless indulgence in physical and material desire. You can still be committed to your values while being conscious of your own strengths and weaknesses. That takes humility.
To truly be genuine and humble, you do not force other people to do things or see things your way. Instead, you do your part and value the contributions and ideas of others like your own. Respecting yourself and respecting others in the same way will, as the quote from Nelson Mandela suggests, inspire others to give you their support.