The root of the word humility is “humble.” In its traditional meaning, which we associate with Christianity and other religious teachings, being humble implies modesty and being unassuming, or even the kind of self-debasement where we make ourselves less than others. Take the expression “Eating humble pie”–yuck! How on earth could a quality like that be part of creating abundance and prosperity for yourself?
Our mainstream American culture says that anyone can succeed and better themselves, and in fact, there is something wrong with them if they don’t. The dominant model of success—which is fortunately beginning to shift in the age of the conscious entrepreneur – is about getting attention, standing out, and dominating in the marketplace. It says we will succeed only by tooting our own horn and the louder the better! What could be less humble than that? That is if we define humility as being modest, small, and making oneself less than others.
Two other spiritual traditions I know address the link betwen humility and prosperity—the teachings of Hinduism/yoga, and also Sufi teachings that I’ve absorbed through Mark Silver and his Heart of Business materials.
On the yoga path, a key teaching is “You are not the doer”. That means that while you may act and serve in various ways, you are a conduit through which Source energy is flowing and expressing itself. You are not the ultimate cause of what happens, yet you are also responsible for your part in things. Your results come from a blend of self effort and grace. Humility is there to help us take credit for our achievements and our failures too, while staying aware that we are also actors on the cosmic stage of life, playing a part in larger trends and in our individual and collective destinies. So we can relax and surrender to the fact that we aren’t completely in charge. From there we can see that everything is part of an interconnected web that takes into account the greatest good for all souls–not just our personal needs and desires.
In the Sufi way, humility is actually a quality of the Divine, and it has to do with accepting a larger, unknowable destiny or grand scheme of life. So when someone has a great shift after a Resonance Repatterning session, we stand in awe and amazement, we may even be humbled by the wisdom and resilience within our client, or by the power of the work itself—but we don’t take all the credit. Similarly, if we say something in a session that we later realize wasn’t so skillful, or we realize we haven’t been marketing our business well, we also understand that this is part of our journey and our learning, these seeming failures or disappointments, and we can correct our course at any time.
In terms of money and prosperity, again, humility can help us to be at peace with what is. We learn to accept what our current situation is and flow with it, even though we may prefer and work towards more prosperity. Humility here helps us to acknowledge when there appears to be a defeat or setback, that there is a bigger picture, even if we can’t see what it is in the moment, and also to ask for help to change what we can change, and accept and live with what can’t be changed—the serenity prayer.
That brings us to the other aspect of humility–the basic human condition of neediness. As the Sufis remind us, we are creatures of need, right from the beginning. A baby needs feeding, care, touch, attention, etc. for its very existence. Our entire life is a continuous process of needing things from other people, from the earth and from Source. We need food to eat, air to breathe, clean water, loving touch, and much more, that we cannot provide for ourselves. It takes humility to accept that we have needs. Yet if we do that, we can ask for help when we need it, and we recognize that we are not self-sufficient, that we are truly interconnected. I believe this kind of humility is more realistic and helps foster working together and a happier world.
As a practitioner, being humble could mean admitting if we were wrong or less than skillful, or being willing to allow and learn from other perspectives. At times we might need to apologize for not communicating our fees or boundaries clearly. Humility could also be standing in awe of our clients, or being compassionate and empathic rather than feeling responsible for, or judging their progress or stuckness. When we have more understanding and compassion for our clients, we become better practitioners and more successful marketers. Think of how much humility it takes for you—or your clients—to get the point of asking for help with a problem or pattern. A person generally goes to a healer or coach when they are in pain, are stuck and need assistance with making a change. So when you are talking to a new or returning client, when you are composing your marketing messages, remember how humbling and vulnerable a place they are in, and address that with your nurturing Earth element, your appreciative Metal, your optimistic Wood, your empowering Water, or your Fiery warmth and humor.
As a business owner, humility might mean looking closely at what is and isn’t working, and perhaps acknowledging where there are knowledge gaps about marketing or accounting, or even in your skills a as a practitioner. Humility helps us see when it’s time to get help from a mentor, coach, friend or healer, learning program or an office assistant. Humility helps us be compassionate when things take longer than we expect them to, and to accept that we are imperfect and don’t always know what to do. Humility helps us step back from time to time and ask “is it time to change course here, or what else is needed?”
One final way humility contributes to prosperity is that it’s a close cousin to acceptance and forgiveness. As we release our ideas that “this shouldn’t be happening” or our resistance to what actually is—we can be more spontaneous, and more open to creative new ideas and solutions. As we forgive or give forth, we yield to the way things are, to our feelings, and to the state of the world as it is. We are more easily able to let go of pride, denial, resistance, our ego identification with outcomes and our judgments about ourselves, our clients, our businesses, lives and the world we live in.
Ironically, humility and acceptance allow us the clarity to see what needs to be addressed and the strength and motivation that comes from being in alignment with our higher purpose, all of which enable us to create greater prosperity. May you be inspired to cultivate humility and be profited and blessed by its many gifts!