I’m taking the wallflower out of humility, how about you?

"Wallflower" by JenniPenni (click image for details)

Every time I kick off humility following Moxie week, there is a palpable let down in the air. Moxie is packed full with vim and vigor, one of the loud, proud ones in my line up, a real party girl. Humility on the otherhand is understated and does it’s best to fly under the radar. Somehow when thinking about “Being Humble,” the first part of the definition I follow, it seems I shouldn’t be very flashy or loud.

I stole my working definition from Ben Franklin who added this attribute to his own list of virtues at a friend’s insistence.

Let’s look at that definition.

HUMILITY – The quality or condition of being humble; imitate Jesus and Socrates.

Check out that second part, imitate Jesus and Socrates. Initially, I have to say I interacted with those two men with so much reverence I completely ignored their humanness. Even more, I completely ignored the fact that both of them had considerable moxie of their own. Somewhere along the line I decided being humble would preclude the more bold emotions.

Humble people are demur, they don’t call attention to themselves. Humility has a wall flower attribute for me but when I think, really think about Jesus and Socrates, those characteristics just don’t fly. Both these men were way ahead of their times. They bucked the status quo and were not afraid to rock the boat. Those two guys, had moxie.

The important distinction being that they were able to share their truths without hitting other folks over the head with their opinions. I believe our guest blogger from last week, Sandi was speaking to this very point in her comment here: “owning it (moxie) powerfully doesn’t take away from our kindness or niceness.” 

Both Jesus and Socrates had the unique ability to think of and consider others in everything they did but this did not mean becoming wallflowers themselves. Each of them was loudly and proudly bold with who they were and the things they did and the messages they shared. Admittedly it did not end well for either of them, however their convictions did not waiver. Now that is moxie and a whole host of bold attributes I certainly don’t muster everyday.

The bottom line in all this is humility doesn’t have to be dour, or serious, or any of the sometimes sad attributes I have previously assigned.  CS Lewis said it best,

Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less

This wise council, as well as Jesus’ and Socrates’ all come from a place of respect. We can be as loud, proud and moxie-full as we like, and should be! 🙂 but as long as we proceed from a place of respect we won’t go wrong. Humility doesn’t have to be a wallflower and neither do we!  Aretha understood this:


Jesus and Socrates got it, and I don’t know about you, but it is time I did too. Being fully who am shouldn’t take away from anyone else. Done right, we all get to be our best selves. Humility means respect and love and kindness and none of these things need to look dour or anything less then marvelous!

I’m taking the wallflower out of humility, how about you?


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7 thoughts on “I’m taking the wallflower out of humility, how about you?

    • Kathy says:

      This is fascinating stuff Heather! I’m a big revolutionary era buff so I especially enjoy this!! Pretty cool that it was a mainstream conversation in Newsweek today and back then! Thanks for sharing!!

  1. Hey Kathy,

    I’m thinking, maybe moxie isn’t that far from humility, for moxie includes (my definition) ‘in the face of adversity’. When I think of humility, I’m reminded it’s the 7th Step in the AA Recovery Program. Aren’t we all in recovery from ‘something’? To share that is pretty bold, think you’re right humility is not a wallflower at all.


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