#BeHumble: For Some People, “Be Humble” Actually Means “Be Quiet”


So, you’re working toward achieving some pretty lofty goals. Whether you’ve received a promotion at your job, you’re working toward that big promotion, you’re working to become an actor or actress, you’re on your way to buying your first home, or you’re like me and striving to become a professional screenwriter; chances are, you’ve heard some variation of the expression, “Be Humble.”

The dictionary defines humility as: “a modest or low view of one’s own importance; humbleness.” This could obviously be taken a variety of ways by different people, but what exactly is a “modest or low view” of one’s own importance?

Who determines this?

What I mean here is that modesty of my importance could be much different than someone else’s modesty or view of their importance. So in essence, humility for me could means something totally different than humility for someone else.

So who’s correct?

We both are.

But this isn’t to debate its definition. It is about those people, the seemingly random folks, who seem to want to throw around this phrase “Be Humble” upon seeing you as a friend and/or family member working toward achieving your dreams.

Don’t get me wrong. Humility is extremely important. I believe we’ve all experienced that moment or two when we’ve become excited about something, gotten our hopes up just to be let down later on whenever things don’t work out the way we would like. While not exactly the same thing, humility is a part of this.

To me, humility is a way to stay grounded. Not for everyone else’s sake, but for your own. A way of not “getting your hopes up.” This isn’t the same as telling someone to never be excited about potential opportunities, but just to be mindful of all the possibilities that come with it, to obviously include the good and the bad.

Is this what every single person is thinking about when they tell us to “Be humble”?

Now you know I wouldn’t be writing this now if it was.

Here is the bottom line. As long as good…anything exists, so will jealousy.

Uh oh. Here he goes.

Yes. Here I go.

Jealousy is out there. All over. This is one of those things that very few people, if any at all, will admit. There are a thousand and one ways people can claim to not be jealous of others, but this is a big reason we see so many people say to “Be Humble,” and it leads to us sort of scratching our heads when it comes from certain individuals.

Which brings me to my title, and how I believe that when some people say to “Be Humble,” what they’re really saying is “Be Quiet.”

Because they don’t want to hear it. No matter how modest you are trying to be, some just don’t want you to express it. At all.

Again, humility IS important, but it is not the same as simply to “Be Quiet,” as is the tone from many of those who say it.

For starters, this may bother a few people or come as a shock and while I’m no expert, there is absolutely nothing I’m aware of to prove that someone who speaks greatly of their accomplishments or who does NOT display humility will not be successful. So many would have you think that lack of success is directly related to someone choosing not to be humble. Even if someone brags often, that alone will not spell failure, as much as many folks wish it would. So this tone of “Be Humble…Or Else” just really doesn’t fly. Not with me.

What do I mean by “tone”? Just think about those who say “Be Humble” and look at what’s around it. Are they saying to “Be Humble” and nothing else? Does there seem to be more emphasis on how little you say? Do they seem annoyed as they say it?

Here is why I believe all that makes a difference. Humility is believed to be a positive thing, right? It’s something that should help you, correct? So why do some people come off as annoyed when they say this? And how come there’s so little that goes with it? How often do folks like that speak also to encourage you on your journey, rather than just saying to “Be Humble”?

They probably don’t do it very much, and I’ll tell you why. It’s because they simply want you to be quiet. That’s what “Be Humble” means to a lot of people.

Again, it doesn’t matter what you say or the tone in which it’s said. The minute you speak of your achievements, you’re wrong in their eyes.

But the point is that you are NOT wrong. To speak of your accomplishments is simply stating facts. Why should you keep that quiet? How would keeping quiet help you to be successful? Unless the speaking itself is hindering you in some way, it really won’t. For all the people who say to “Be Humble,” they should include the specific way(s) in which it may hinder your success if they feel you are lacking humility. General statements don’t cut it. Generic social media posts (gotta love those) don’t help anything and more often than not, are made merely to get this message of Be Humble “Be Quiet” to those people the poster are hoping it will reach.

If someone feels I am not displaying humility (whatever their definition is), then they should tell me how that specifically will prevent me from achieving success, and I’m not talking about “karma” and that nonsense. Yes, this is part of it as well in the eyes of some people. Many believe that the “karma” that comes about from bragging or otherwise not exhibiting humility will be sure to put a halt on our plans for success which again, there is no direct evidence linking the two together.

There’s a big difference between a person who lacks humility or brags and they are NOT working toward their goals, and a person who may lack these and are looking to make accomplishments happen. Even in those cases, it’s not really even the lack of humility or bragging itself that’s causing the hindrance. It may be the person’s lack of drive, determination, work ethic, etc., that is stopping them. NOT the fact that they are talking about what they have or haven’t done.

The same way that humility could be viewed in different ways by different people, so can the lack of humility or perceived bragging. A person who posts on social media as to how happy they are to have received a promotion at his or her job is merely stating what happened. However, many would take that as bragging or lacking humility, even if all the person did was to thank the people who have helped them along the way, in addition to NOT putting others down in the process.

But again…none of that matters. All it takes is to say something and people say to “Be Humble.”

Which deep down to them, means to “Be Quiet.”

What I feel it is important to remember is that yes, humility IS important. Understand the meaning and if you see fit, apply it to your life and journey toward making your dreams happen. If someone says for you to “Be Humble,” understand whether this is good advice from that particular person and more encouragement follows, or if “Be Humble” is all that’s said and be mindful of the tone.

Remember, humility or lack thereof isn’t what will bring you success or failure. It’s what YOU put into the journey. As much as many may feel that to lack humility by way of bragging, boasting, etc., isn’t a good look, at the end of the day, it is NOT that that will hurt you, no matter what anyone tells you.

A lot of people will be jealous of your success and your journey. Period. Since next to no one will admit that, they will need something to fall back on, and a way to indirectly and unintentionally express this. Since they know hardly anyone will just say “Okay, no problem” upon being told to “Be Quiet,” of course, few would say that…

…they would say “Be Humble” instead.

Learn the difference.


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