Humility: The Quiet Trait That Everyone Will Notice

“Humility is grown in the desert.”


Recently I shared the above quote on humility and my buddy TB asked if we’d expand on it. I don’t know where it came from or who stated it. I recollected it while pulling together some quotes and have no idea where I saw it.

Many times us guys perceive humility as weakness. Backing down. Not standing up for ourselves. At the office abrasive and forceful people are sometimes the ones who get things done, and get the job you want. But who really praises those people? Maybe someone who knows their accomplishments from afar, but rarely the people closest to them.

Defining Humility

I’ve heard humility evaluated in several different ways. Consider these perspectives:

  • Humility is strength restrained.
  • Humility is not thinking more of yourself than you should.
  • Humility is understanding your weaknesses and not overemphasizing your strengths.
  • Humility is to choose to prefer others before yourself.
  • “Humility does not mean you think less of yourself. Humility means you think of yourself less.” -Ken Blanchard

I ask you to understand what humility is. Look at those who you consider worthy of the title “humble,” and ask yourself what sets them apart. It’s impossible to pursue growing into a more humble person without having a definition of the trait.

Humility Shunned

Humility has been lost on my generation of men. We praise the Alpha Dog (Michael Jordan) and are entertained by meatheads. We even praise Bruce Lee and Muhammad Ali when they are at their most arrogant. Can you think of many men we praise as humble? Colin Powell comes to mind, but I’ve never met him and haven’t seen him enough at length.

Lack Of Humble Men

This lack of humble men is what will make people like you stick out. While people are exacerbating the dog-eat-dog world, you can be set apart as a person against the grain. So many men are loud and pompous, while the quiet guys might be getting eaten alive.

Let me tell you this: don’t get eaten alive. Don’t allow yourself to get walked all over.

I’ll also say this: become a humble, firm, confident, non-attention getting, certain, giving individual. If you pursue humility, while being strong and firm, people will notice. Your family, the lady in your life, your employers. This quiet trait can be hard to define, but I guarantee it’s easy to spot.

Becoming Humble

“Humility is grown in the desert.” Humility is often grown in a dry, lonely place. It’s rarely grown in the abundance during the season of “winning.”humility

Do you have to be isolated or dry and sad to become more humble? Absolutely not. That’s why I’ve asked you to consider a number of questions during this article. But I believe the deepest level of inner humility is not grown in front of crowds or while raking in huge amounts of cash. Humility is grown in the pain of disappointment after having been birthed during a time of solitude.

The Key to Humility: Self-Awareness

I don’t think we can become truly humble people unless we understand ourselves and our significance in correlation to God. We try to pretend we’re wise and we have it all together. But without understanding who we are in light of who stitched us together, we won’t really understand ourselves. And understanding our true strengths and weaknesses is important to have an accurate awareness of ouselves. And when we lack self-awareness, we treat people like punks and make ourselves out to be more important than we are.


  1. Very well put Todd. I really could not agree more. I think that humility is viewed as weakness in today’s climate, especially when it comes from men. I happen to think it’s just the opposite and it does take a great sense of self-awareness. Looking to put the focus on others, when appropriate makes everyone stronger in my opinion. I like to think that I know everything (just ask my wife 🙂 ) but it reality I am far, far from it and it’s vital to point to others who actually know a thing or two as opposed to myself.

  2. Man, this is great! Thanks for explainging that quote and humility better. I get it now about being ‘in the desert’ when humility grows. Our society really doesnt’ “lift up” humble dudes. Let me think… … Peyton Manning maybe? Man, I really can’t think of any others.

    It’s too bad, like you say, because being the loud, alpha dog isn’t always so great; there’s something really cool about dudes who udnersatnd their weakness and dont’ overstate their awesomeness.

    • Todd Mayfield says

      Haha yeah there is something great about men who don’t overstate their awesomeness. I think we kind of like watching our sports heroes and people on TV doing it. It’s entertainment. But people that we actually know, yeah, we aren’t entertained by that.

      Peyton Manning-I agree. That guy is a class act.

  3. What a great post! Todd, if this came entirely from your thoughts, I may have underestimated the quality of this blog… Your thoughts are deep!

    “Humility does not mean you think less of yourself. Humility means you think of yourself less.” -Ken Blanchard – such an awesome quote.

    • Todd Mayfield says

      Thanks Veronica! I don’t think any of the thoughts are originals of my own. But many people feeding into them over the years.

  4. Wonderfully said. Pride and ego are dangerous and can certainly allow one to think more of himself than he really is. Being humble is tough though and requires constant reflection and understanding of what you lack. I think that last quote you used by Blanchard says it best.

    • Todd Mayfield says

      I agree. I think people can go pretty far without having much character. But they won’t be able to stay there and sustain without character.

  5. I was looking at an article in Reader’s Digest when I was waiting for a hair cut last week. It was about the autistic boy who was lost in the woods for four days before a man who did not know him or his family went out searching and found him when teams of police and trained search and rescue people could not. He refused to do any interviews or even give his name. There are lots of humble me out there. We just can’t name them because they don’t draw attention to themselves. I much prefer that type.

    • Todd Mayfield says

      What an a mind-blowing example. It would be hard for me to not be self-seeking and desire some fame and attention. Kudos to Mr. Anonymous. Thank you for sharing!

  6. Kim’s example is awesome. I probably wouldn’t go into the woods by myself to find a lost boy, but I probably would react the same way. Kind of hard to believe when I named my blog about myself, but I tend to be uncomfortable with people praising me. I much more prefer to work in the shadows.

    • Todd Mayfield says

      Haha that is kind of funny when you think about the blog title :). But I agree, I think most people receive recognition well, but feel uncomfortable being blatantly seeking praise.

  7. good article! Quiet but firm!

  8. I have been looking up articles in humility as it is a subject I’m am growing increasingly aware of as a key denominator between people I meet in my coaching work who are truly successful and those who are full of bluster.

    I’m responding to your post however simply because I had a wry smile on my face as I read your mention of Bruce Lee and Mohammad Ali. The irony being these are two people who I hold up as icons of humility. I often point out that the Ali we came to know displayed a front which appeared to be anything but Humble, this was Ali the showman, a persona for the ring and the audience, the true Ali however was a man of great humility. I will add a caveat however, I think there are times when all humble people lose that humility, even if only briefly, and I don’t think Ali was any different here. And I think at times Ali fell victim to believing his own publicity.

    Thank you once again for fm excellent article.

  9. I also like to add that I’ve noticed the more ‘intelligent’ a man is, the more humble he becomes. It’s like they are humbled by how much is still yet unknown about our World. My husband often praises others and is the last person to blow his own trumpet. I love that about him. I found that to be very sexy when we first met .. silent, mysterious, intelligent as opposed to macho, loud mouth- all talk no action. Haha

  10. chedollar says

    Wao this was really worth my ten minutes of reading well spoken and properly explained!learnt a lot think its time I became humble but firm blowing your trumpet hahaha that’s what people find hard not to do especially after an achievement

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