As you might have noticed by now, people change.
It’s things like fame, success, and money that are often the catalysts for such transformations.
The fact is, it’s the easiest thing in the world to become big-headed or arrogant as a result of success.
Sometimes, all it takes is a few extra digits in the savings account for people’s true colors to make themselves known.
The person who remains humble despite their achievements displays a tremendous amount of character and class (something that money can never buy).
In this article, I’ll walk you through nine common traits among people who stay humble and don’t let success negatively affect them.
When you achieve this rare level of humility, expect to gain the respect of many, especially those who really count.
Let’s get to it!
1) They have gratitude
Humble people tend to be secure within themselves. They’re not fragile egocentric narcissists addicted to getting credit and praise.
They acknowledge and appreciate the fact that their success wasn’t achieved solely through their own efforts.
They’re thankful for everyone they’ve encountered throughout their journey–i.e. the individuals who have helped catapult them to success in their own respective ways, from supportive family members to the intern making them their morning coffee.
Humble people know the value of support–be it moral support, financial, or otherwise. They know that great things in life are almost always a product of collaborative efforts.
In fact, they often go out of their way to attribute success to others. In meetings or interviews, they’ll bring up the names of those who have helped or inspired them.
As any respectable self-made man or woman will tell you, you won’t go far working in isolation.
2) They’re empathetic
Humility goes hand in hand with many other positive traits, that’s just one of the unwritten laws of the universe.
One of these core traits is empathy.
In a nutshell, empathy is the ability to understand, share, and be sensitive toward the feelings of others.
When you’re empathetic, you’re highly connected with people from all walks of life. You’re able to express compassion towards them and their plights.
And guess what? People notice.
You aren’t out of touch or detached from those less successful than you.
Being empathetic, there’s no air of superiority and self-involvement about you that is commonplace among the rich and powerful and those aspiring to reach that level.
3) They’re self-aware
Here’s the thing: successful people who lack self-awareness might come across as brash or arrogant.
They feel that success in life alone entitles them to act like they’re better than other people.
They also think they can do no wrong.
Perhaps they might even reject criticism since they feel they are above it.
Humble people, on the other hand, are innately self-aware. They tend to have a pretty firm understanding of their strengths, and more importantly, their weaknesses.
This gives them balance and integrity. They’re well aware of what they bring to the table but they also recognize the areas that need improvement–something that they are typically more than willing to work on.
Because of their inherent self-awareness, they’re confident in their capabilities and don’t possess the urge to have to prove themselves to others constantly.
4) They’re patient
Real talk: people who are successful understand that good things happen to those who wait.
They know that true success takes hard work and patience; it’s not something that comes overnight.
They’re in it to win, even if it means sticking around for the long haul. Once they make a commitment, they ride it out with laser-sharp focus.
They don’t crave the instant gratification that a quick buck or empty praise might provide.
This makes their inevitable success feel like a real triumph, full of grit and determination.
Naturally, this mentality plays a part in shaping their values—one of those being humility.
5) They keep their personal life grounded
I am genuinely impressed by the successful person who doesn’t forget their roots.
As established earlier, money changes people in myriad ways, from the clothes they wear to the company they keep down to their personality traits and behaviors.
The truly humble person is able to remain admirably grounded through it all. They keep the same interests, maintain old friendships, and are present with family.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is one of the biggest names in basketball. He’s a two-time league MVP, an NBA champion, and a bonafide superstar in almost every way.
The son of Nigerian immigrants in Athens, Greece, he’s now one of the highest-paid players in American sports.
Yet despite his incredible and inspiring success (his rags-to-riches story was adapted into a feature-length movie last year), he stays remarkably grounded.
He still hangs out with his Greek childhood friends, he prioritizes his wife and kids, he has a tireless work ethic, and he dines with the aforementioned friends at fast food restaurants.
Giannis is not swept away by the superstar athlete lifestyle like many of his colleagues, he chooses to say humble–which is, quite frankly, likely a major reason for his unprecedented success.
6) They prioritize ethical actions
For the humble person, things like integrity and morality are priorities. They tend to hold themselves to high ethical standards, even when profit and revenue are at stake.
Maybe they opt to invest in sustainable products, for instance, instead of things that negatively affect the environment.
They also pride themselves on their civic and social work. They might use their success as a platform to create positive change, beyond just donations.
This can come in the form of volunteering, advocating for causes they believe in, or using their platform to raise awareness.
This makes the humble person so refreshing to be around.
Unlike the typical selfish, ruthless, money-hungry individual who will willingly lie, cheat, and steal to benefit, the humble person has a firm set of self-imposed values and boundaries they simply do not cross. That’s badass.
7) They take time to mentor others
Being grateful for their success, humble people don’t need to hoard their secrets. Instead, they tend to pay it forward.
Hence, they might intentionally make room in their calendars to guide and support those in their fields with less experience.
They genuinely want to see their predecessors succeed. They don’t regard life or work as competition.
Helping others can come in the form of mentoring, volunteering in the community, or even providing social media guidance in their area of expertise.
In short, giving back and sharing knowledge are textbook signs of a humble person.
8) They practice mindful listening
The humble person just doesn’t respect themself, they respect others too.
This is something that extends to things like active listening, eye contact during interactions, asking follow-up questions, and crafting thoughtful responses.
They aren’t self-absorbed; they know how to make other people feel genuinely valued, always making the extra effort to do so.
A few years into my restaurant business, my partner and I were set on expansion. One of the primary ways we would grow was through franchising.
We set a meeting with a potential franchisee, who in his emails seemed very keen to tie up.
When we arrived at the meeting, we ended up waiting for an hour. He was unapologetically late.
Also, while we were discussing key aspects of the brand, he was mostly on his phone, scrolling through emails and social media.
His response time was noticeably delayed.
I saw this as a red flag. If he wasn’t willing to give his full attention to us in an important exploratory meeting, what more a full-fledged restaurant?
Needless to say, we decided not to move forward.
9) They’re lifelong learners
For certain people, once they achieve a certain level of comfort or success, they no longer feel the need to move forward.
They’re content with limiting themselves and thus any further growth is deemed unnecessary.
The humble yet successful person has an almost insatiable thirst for knowledge.
They know that as long as they’re alive, there will always be something new to learn and room to grow.
This sense of intellectual humility is thoroughly built into their make-up as individuals.
So put your thinking cap on, the quest for knowledge never ends!
In short, maintaining humility despite impressive achievements is a testament to one’s character and personal growth.
I’m of the opinion that success and humility are not at odds. They are in fact on two sides of the same coin. Humility doesn’t take away from success, it enhances it.
Ultimately, for the humble person, success is not the end but a platform for growth and learning and uplifting people around them.
To keep with the theme, I leave you with this quote from another basketball figure, decorated head coach Rick Pitino:
“Humility is the true key to success. Successful people lose their way at times. They often embrace and overindulge from the fruits of success. Humility halts this arrogance and self-indulging trap. Humble people share the credit and wealth, remaining focused and hungry to continue the journey of success.”
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