I was reading Chris Lema’s article on staying humble, and while I totally agree with his premise, I disagree that I should ‘stay’ humble.
Nobody has ever wondered if I lacked confidence, so I’m sure as you read this title, you wondered a bit. What would this guy have to say about humility. But don’t confuse humility with modesty.
That applies to me greatly too. I’m not humble. I’m confident, bold, brash, opinionated and pushy. I stand up for myself and others. I am willing to ‘hoot’ or call out numbers when someone asks “How many plugin authors do we have?” I don’t get embarrassed about any of that. When someone says “You’re amazing.” I often reply “Yes, thank you.”
Humble? Not a bit.
But at the same time, when people walk up want to take pictures with me, I do double take. The reason is not because I’m humble, but because I’m a realist.
In the grand scheme of things, in the great big world, I know where I am and who I am. Sure, I spend time pondering the mysteries of the universe and wonder why we’re all here, but me? I know me. And that means I know that I am important in the WordPress community, but I’m also totally replaceable. I’m not the only Multisite Maven in town, nor am I the best. I’m certainly the noticeable one right now.
At WordCamp Boston, I was chatting with someone who mentioned they’d read a post by Ipstenu. I nodded, explained some of what that post meant, and we kept talking for a moment before the shoe dropped and he remembered that Ipstenu was Mika (yes, I had introduced myself). In that moment, he fangirled for a moment, and I was fairly chill about it. Not because I assume or expect accolades and praise, but because I learned a lesson a couple years ago.
When someone says thank you, reply “You’re welcome.” Otherwise you may be devaluing their thanks. You are an expert in some things, you are knowledgeable and smart and good. If someone thanks you for the hard work you did, and yes it was hard, accept their thanks.
“You’re welcome. I really love hearing that I’ve been able to help people.”
Perhaps it’s more that I have an exceptional amount of self-confidence. I am certain I can do anything, and if I don’t know right now, I will learn as soon as I can to solve the problem (or get someone who knows to explain it to me). But either way, I know I’m deserving of the praise and thanks I get. Humble isn’t me. I try not to be arrogant either, but I’m not really modest. I’m confident, I’m sure, and I know I can do what I try to do.
Chris isn’t wrong, mind you. There’s a level of self-awareness you need to be in order that you’re not an arrogant git. I’m constantly working to earn the respect I’ve been given. This is a level of respect I earned over 2 years, that I must keep earning every day. I work hard to be good at all this, and because of that, people still respect and value me. I didn;t start doing all this to become a highly valued member of the WP community, though. I did it for myself. That I became respected and valued put extra weight on everything I did… which is another story. Still, because I became respected, I wanted to keep earning that respect.
I may not be humble, but I’m sure appreciative.