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Years ago I read a little book by Edgar Schein called Humble Inquiry. His understanding of humility has helped me so much when I talk with teams about understanding one another. In my blog on Humble Inquiry I shared:

…there is a bit of confusion in our society as to what humility is, therefore we have a difficult time communicating and working together. Schein defines three kinds of humility.

  1. Basic Humility – This kind isn’t a choice, but a condition based on someone’s social position (ie. class).

  2. Optional Humility – This kind is based on respecting someone because they have accomplished more than us. Still, we can choose to be around them or not.

  3. Here-and-now Humility – This kind is based on how I feel when I am dependent on you. Social class or achievement doesn’t apply with here-and-now humility because without mutual respect and dependence, we won’t be able to get our task done. This kind represents the kind of humility needed with Humble Inquiry.

Helping teams learn to listen and develop healthy relationships has been the most effective tool I’ve seen at organizational success. I’m excited to begin his next book called Humble Consulting. As I prepare to work with a team in a few weeks, I was encouraged as I read today,

“My clients and I will discover that the first real help is my enabling them to see the true complexity and messiness of the problem situation and help them to abandon quick fixes and/or knee-jerk reactions. Beyond that, the real help will be to evolve the right adaptive moves to deal with the realities of the situation that I help them to identify.” (Humble Consulting, p. 24)

Whether you are an executive leader, manager or even a parent. Don’t you see the wisdom on this? Truly there are no quick fixes. Real relationships and real problems take time to solve. Be content to move at whatever pace necessary to provide real help. Throwing a quick fixes at problems rarely do the job. Enter in, acknowledge the messiness and pick a small part that you’re willing to own and improve. Better to fix a part of the issue and keep working on the rest than to fix nothing at all.

Make the space and get it done! If I can help, let me know.


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