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Episode 40 — Does Humility Harm Your Career?

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In this episode, which was recorded live, you’ll learn how to properly wield humility—and still get credit where credit is due. How on earth will people ever know how great a job you do unless you tell them? How indeed. It seems like being humble will only cause you to live in a shadow. But is that really so?

Hosted by Dr. Nick Oswald featuring Kenneth Vogt of Vera Claritas.

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This is an automated transcript and may not be 100% accurate.

Nick Oswald 00:02:06 Hello, and welcome to another live edition of The Happy Scientist podcast This, of course, is the place to be if you want to become a happier, healthier and more productive scientist. I’m Nick Oswald, the founder of and today we are drawing on the yoda-like wisdom of Mr Kenneth Vogt. Ken is my friend and mentor, the Bitesizebio team coach and founder of the executive mentoring company Vera Claritas. Today, and in all other happy scientist podcast episodes you get to benefit from his words of wisdom to help you increase your performance enjoyment and success in the lab. And today is the last in our three part life series called jumpstart your career as a happy scientist and in this installment we’ll be discussing something that you may not have considered thus far: Does Humility Harm your Career. Since this is a live session we can take your questions and discuss them as part of the show you can enter use those using the questions box that should be visible to the left of or below the presentation window. And also be sure to check out our downloads page where you can find a lot of downloadable goodies and a competition to win a rare prized actually a priceless Happy Scientists T shirt. The downloads page link is right below the questions box Okay, without further ado let’s bring in the man himself Kenneth how are you today.

Kenneth Vogt 00:03:29 I’m doing great. How are you?

Nick Oswald 00:03:31 I’m good, are you feeling humble?

Kenneth Vogt 00:03:34 Well, after that intro man it’s all little hard.

Nick Oswald 00:03:36 There you go, that’s your challenge.

Kenneth Vogt 00:03:39 Boy you bring up a good point we’ll discuss in the course of this presentation because, it’s true that the fact is, in the field that you’re in in the scientific field you’re no doubt surrounded by people who are very smart, very capable, very ambitious and sometimes are very vocal about all of that, and you may look at all that and think hmm maybe that’s what I should do isn’t that what’s working, after all, I mean some people that. That method is how they’re gaining success, so it is a model that one could operate, where you don’t have to be humble, you can just be you can be a blowhard you can be a self runner and, in some cases it works out, but in some cases it doesn’t. And it can be very devastating So the question is, what about the opposite approach is it possible to use humility to promote your career is that also a dangerous position to take it, are you taking a risk to be to be humble in how you approach things so I want to begin by let’s let’s go to the next slide here and and then we ask an obvious question well what is humility. So i’m gonna i’m gonna run a few with you a few language lessons here will define some words and we’ll dig into what they mean and see how we can best apply them well first off humility, what is it, it is a modest view of one’s own important it’s humbleness. So we said a modest view or what is modesty modesty it’s not just you know wearing your script below your needs are. You know, having your shirt back then it’s it’s being unassuming arm or moderate in the estimation of one’s abilities. So this idea of being moderate in the estimation of your abilities means many of you probably most of you are PhD scientists. You know your abilities have been demonstrated to be exemplary to be exceptional, is it possible to still be modest about that. It absolutely is, you can moderate how you present what you are not in a way to take away from yourself or deprecate yourself but to recognize that, as much as you know about a certain topic, you know you’re not an expert on every topic. There are limits to what any one person can known and, of course, we do know some pally maths, in a world and maybe even work with some maybe you’re one of them, and you know they’re they’re really interesting people. But it would appear, then, that somebody really knows a lot, the more they know, the more they recognize how little they know how much was missing so that’s the way you can enter this notion of humility, when you recognize. It’s not about what I am, it’s about what I’m not. Now there’s nothing wrong with not being certain things you know I, I know I can’t walk a tightrope. It’s just not something I know how to do. I couldn’t do it successfully and I’d hurt myself or others if I did so I’m not. I’m not damaged by making that admission. I, no-one is thinking less than me right now I don’t think. Because I’ve pointed out that I don’t know how to walk a tightrope so you can’t you can’t get caught up in what is the damage there because probably there isn’t any. Now the opposite side of humility is arrogance, but what is arrogance will arrogance is an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities. Now notice that word exaggerated. It’s not an awareness of your importance or abilities, it’s an exaggerated sense and no doubt you see lots of that in certain people. And, and they may even be capable people, but the thing that bothers you about them isn’t their capability. Even if it’s exceptional to yours, you know if it goes beyond yours, you want to bother you about a person like that, claiming abilities that they don’t actually have or beyond them. You know it’s it’s one thing to claim that you’re strong it’s another thing to claim, you can fly you know. The first statement may be absolutely true, but the second statement probably isn’t so you don’t want to get caught up in that, because once that happens. Once you get labeled as arrogant you’re actually hurting your position in the world, people doubt everything you say about yourself now. Every every time you claim something they’re going to go huh yeah that’s probably just Bob blowing smoke again, you know, even if it’s true and you get damaged by that. So. You may recognize this thing and say all right, a lot, I want to be arrogant, that’s true but that and all that that means I want to be humble, because I think there’s a downside to humble humility, so let me, let me just point out a few things that humility is not. Humility is not being a doormat or letting people walk all over you. That’s not what it’s about, it’s not constantly sacrificing your own interests, for those of others are feeling like you’re a victim or a martyr and boy there’s a lot of that in the world today. It’s not about avoiding conflict or confrontation, for the sake of being nice, conflict and confrontation are going to be a part of your career. But there is a way to approach that with humility and we’ll discuss that as we go on and it’s not about hiding your feelings or suppressing your views to avoid alienating others. Hopefully you have some strong opinions on things, some strong informed opinions on things and it’s important that you convey those things and humility won’t stop you from doing that fortunately. And you get to have feelings about those things too. There’s nothing wrong with feeling strongly about something being passionate about something you can use that to your advantage you don’t have to sacrifice humility to have passion.

Kenneth Vogt 00:10:06 Okay let’s let’s go to the next slide. So you probably looked around and seen people that are all about promoting themselves and, in some cases it gets them certain places. In their careers, and you know, in the lab and and there are people like that and it is, it is a method. And it can work so i’m not trying to say that it doesn’t work to do, self promotion it’s just it’s a risky thing to do, self promotion you seek attention and what happens is you get it. And for somebody that is seeking attention just for the sake of attention there may not be anything else behind it. And if that happens, then they can get found out for what they truly are so you don’t have to do self promotion. What you do have to do, though, is the best you can you have to do good work you have to you got it you got to put in a solid day you know whether it’s about being workman like in your in your your manner, or whether it’s about about being intellectually stable or intellectually strong, you know there’s all these characteristics, you can bring to the to your work that that just show that you’re committed to doing the best that can be done, and that is far more valuable than just blowing your own horn so. So let’s look at what the other side of this looks like then on the next slide.

Kenneth Vogt 00:11:41 The world has turned into a strange place here in the last couple years and we are seeing some things that, that have just spun out of control, now there’s always been you know narcissism people that are all about looking at themselves and and making themselves, the most important things in a world, but it has it has just gone to a ridiculous level and it’s and it’s hit the highest, highest stations and in society to and so it’s been filtering it’s been filtering down and filtering around, to all kinds of areas and all kinds of fields and it’s going to affect you in in your life and in your career, just as well. Now there’s one other thing that we see is people being disagreeable. We have people who just don’t want to get along anymore, they don’t want to, they don’t want to work together with other people. They want to take a side and either you’re on my side or you’re my enemy and then this notion of grandiosity of the elevation of oneself to a level of royalty you know. This is what’s happening in the world, and you get to look at this and ask yourself do I want to be this kind of person, you want to be a person who is only about me. Do I want to be so disagreeable that the only way to get along with me is do you have to change your opinions to get on my side or do I want to put myself up on a pedestal is that the only way that the things can go forward. Well it’s not and this is an opportunity, actually what’s happening in the world right now, is an opportunity for us to be part of the solution. So you can be more inclusive in who you do good for and the nature of science is such that the opportunity to do good is profound, there’s so much you can do that is good, and even if you’re involved in in basic research, you know you don’t have to be specifically developing that cancer drug there’s basic research is doing a tremendous amount of good because it’s it’s feeding out to all these other areas. You may, you may figure out one thing in your basic research, it will make things better for 1000 other researchers who will make it better for 1000 people and all sudden you know you’ve touched a million people buy your one your one discovery your your one new awareness. The notion of being agreeable to is a really useful one now, and I say being agreeable doesn’t mean you have to be a yes man and it doesn’t mean that you just have to knuckle under every time somebody says something that is different from what you understand. Being agreeable is seeking agreement. It’s like okay what do we have in common, here, what do we do, what do we both see is true. You know, so it gives you an opportunity then to expand human knowledge and you become part of the solution, then now grandiosity there’s just nothing there’s nothing opposite, that that works, you know it’s it’s not a. yeah you don’t want to become a doormat as we mentioned earlier it’s not about just burying yourself but. When you elevate yourself to the point that you don’t care what that does to other people that’s not going to be good for your career yeah I think about there was a there was a pop song, you know back in the 80s and one of the lines was there’s no night need to be nice in a way up because you’re not coming down it’s just not true. You don’t know what’s going to happen things there are ups and downs in life, and you can make friends on the way up And so, then, if things turn to make it harder for you you’ve got people, you can rely on and things people, you can draw on in times of trouble and that’s a lot easier than if all you did was this step all over buddy all the way up.

Kenneth Vogt 00:15:42 Alright, so let’s go to the next slide. So we’re going to take this apart in two ways, the first thing is. What a novel idea don’t think more of yourself than it is necessary to think. Now, what does that mean, it means that. If you have an opportunity to be humble take it, so I give you a few examples of of of well known people, yes, somebody like like Dave Grohl who’s you know the in his band, Foo Fighters, hey he has gotten a reputation these days for know stadium concerts he’ll have some kid come up and play with the band on stage. And he’s elevating youngsters, so the last, the last video I saw of this he brought up this 11 year old girl to play drums with Foo Fighters, now Dave Grohl was he was a drummer for Nirvana before he started foo fighters. And he’s a great drummer but he hired another drummer for his own band, because he says, I needed a better drummer and then he is an 11 year old come up and play drums on his stage at a stadium. Now that is not that, that is Dave Grohl not thinking more of themselves as necessary to think he realizes he’s not a God he’s not he’s just a musician and he wants to support other musicians and and you know he’s going to change some people’s careers here but it’s stuff like this, or you think about somebody like Keanu Reeves, you know he’s a movie star but he’s been known to do to help the crew unpack a truck he’s been known to stand outside the door waiting to be let in because people didn’t recognize him, because he doesn’t think more of himself than is necessary to thing, but that doesn’t stop him from being a top paid movie star and one of the most recognized figures in film and and you know not not the beside all that, but you know women just adore him. So yeah there’s a lot of benefits to be had from being that kind of person not think more of yourself than is necessary to think you will make friends that you didn’t even realize you made so now let’s look at the flip side of this and the next slide. And that is do not think less of yourself than it is necessary to think so what we’re not recommending here is that you make yourself unimportant. it’s still important that you have good, solid self esteem and you can have self esteem and and it won’t have any way impact you lacking humility. Or the whole, the whole point of humility isn’t to reduce you, it is to see yourself clearly, and if you have solid self esteem, plus humility. You know you become a Dave Grohl you become Keanu Reeves, you become somebody who is routinely adored, you become somebody that people want to work with, somebody that people respect and somebody people will trust with important duties and. and deadlines and and will give, give a chance to and so you know it doesn’t matter where you are in your career, you know that that first slide we had an older man there. And with a younger man and doesn’t matter which one of those who are you could you could be somebody who’s just starting out, and you can still afford to be humble you don’t have to worry that you haven’t made your bones Yet if you show yourself to be open to learning and to being to being mentored and the growing you’ll be fine. And if you’re that older person, somebody who’s been there for a while, you have nothing to lose by being humble, you will present yourself as somebody that other people will then build up when you’re humble other people other people will look at that go yeah but you know what he’s this and he’s that and he’s this other thing. And it it there’s there’s nothing more satisfying and have somebody else sing your praises but you first, you have to be praiseworthy and first, you have to be humble enough that people think well he needs to be praised because he’s not praising himself or the other side of that is well there’s no sense praising them, believe me, raises himself every day, every time you see him now we don’t want that so. It helps you avoid avoid prideful illness, you know pride fullness and humility are mutually exclusive pride fullness always hurts, humility never hurts pride fullness never helps humility always helps and I realized, these are bold statements, but I will I will challenge you to find a way where that’s not true because when when it comes down to it. If somebody moves forward, based on pridefulness there you’re always waiting for the, for the floor dropout on them, you’re always wondering when is this all going to blow up in their face, you know, even if it hasn’t yet. But it’s it’s a very risky thing to do, risk it’s ty risk for for questionable reward, in fact, or as humility, is very low risk and yet still has the opportunity for high reward. Now it might take slightly longer if you’re humble, that is because other people are going to have to notice, but the fact is, if nobody else’s noticing it doesn’t matter that you’re sitting around bragging about yourself it’s not going to get you very far.

Kenneth Vogt 00:21:35 So let’s look at another side of this and the next slide. Another thing you might be worried about, this doesn’t humility open you up to being humiliated, I mean those words have the same route don’t they? Well sort of but they’re not exactly the same so let’s define humiliation, humiliation is to be made to feel ashamed or foolish to have one’s dignity or self respect injured, especially publicly. So I will assert you, the only way you can be humiliated is if you’re prideful. You have to have something to lose, to be able to be humiliated, whereas if you’re humble, it is impossible to humiliate you. They can’t take away something from you that you have not claimed or that you have publicly pointed out that I don’t care I’m not concerned about. Man you can’t you can’t put me down if i’ve already told you that Well, this is me i’m i’m just this well you know you’re just that, like okay that’s what I just said, they can humiliate you and he’s like i’m a superstar no you’re not oh ouch, that’s different now, I can be humiliated and not only am a superstar you barely make the team, you know. That’s the kind of thing that hurts, and nobody wants to be humiliated, nobody wants to be in receiving into that and, of course, in a professional setting, In an academic setting humiliation can take on very. How we put this it’s not like the playground, you know when humiliation happens there can be very, very subtle and it can be, and it can be very, very vicious by the same token. So obviously we want to avoid humiliation, if you want to protect yourself from humiliation. The absolute best road you can take is to be humble and to renounce prideful illness, to put that behind you. Now there may be a time, you may have operated on that you might have felt like this is what I need this is how I, I have to do it. Or, or maybe it’s how you’ve been taught or you, you’ve had other people around you that have been prideful and so that’s how they operated so you follow that model. It doesn’t matter, there’s it, you can switch models. it’s it’s a safe thing to do, and you don’t have to make any explanation for it yeah granted it may confuse people for a little while if they’re used to you being prideful and you switch to being humble they may not understand for a minute and they may push back a little bit they might test it see if they can read a few million at you, but when they find out, they can’t they’re going to leave you alone it’s it’s you’re not gonna you’re not going to have to worry about that anymore so there’s a there’s a great opportunity available to you here in in being humbled. 

Kenneth Vogt 00:24:34 Alright so let’s move on to the next slide let’s talk about what, what do you have to do to actually be humble. So there, there are several ways to look at this, so if we look at it from these standpoint of strength, certitude and vision. Humility requires strength that reminds you that humility is not weakness, humility isn’t being a pushover. You have to be strong, to be humble it really takes strength to be quiet and somebody else’s getting, getting noticed. Or it takes strength to recognize that somebody else’s better at something than you. But when you recognize that someone is better at something than you now you have an opportunity, you have a choice. Well, do I want to get better at this? Do I want to be as good as them or better than them or am I gonna recognize, you know what? That’s not important right now I have other things to focus my attention on. Humility gives you clarity, it allows you then to make. Make make choices consciously instead of being subconsciously driven to do things that you may ultimately not even want to do humility provides servitude that is certainly that you understand what you’re looking at it you’re you’re not seeing it through a lens and you know pride is like a prism that kind of warps how you see things, whereas humility is allows you to see it as it is. And, and it allows you to put less value judgments on things, and I mean we may talk about that in a future episode is but about the the meaning that we give to things, but the less the less extraneous meaning you give the clear, you can see things in the clear, you can see things, the more likely, you are to be successful in your career. And it will actually make further humility easier at the beginning, if you’re seeing the world very unclearly, humility might look like an impossibility to you. So it’s kind of a self fulfilling prophecy, though, the more you implement humility, the clearer it gets. So then, it opens up to that third area, the idea of vision, see now vision is being able to see things that aren’t there yet. It’s about being able to be imaginative. If you’re not humble, if you think you have everything all figured out when something new and exciting happens you’re not even going to notice or you’re going to write it off or you’re going to try to explain it away with things you already know. What if you could look at something and go wow I don’t understand what i’m looking at well now you’ve opened up something really interesting. Now you have an opportunity to do something bigger and better now, you may have the opportunity for discovery. And I want to point out to you folks that are in science, do you realize how rare privilege that is? There are not many careers, where you get to be creative and you get to discover things that mean there’s a few out there, like this, but it’s more it’s practically normal in your career, it is not normal in most careers so count your blessings.

Kenneth Vogt  00:27:58 Alright, so let’s move on to the next point, next slide. All right, the fact is, though, all your life you’ve been engaged in competition, and it seems like humility and competition don’t work together too well and, and especially if you’re a PhD scientist, you have faced a lifetime of competition, I mean it goes back to, to primary school. Where you had to stand out so you can stand up in secondary school, so you can stand out in University in graduate school and you know at every step of the way you needed to stand out and often you were up against other people and you were competing for limited resources or you know limited opportunities and even once you hit the working world there’s still this competition because you’ve been you’re in a group of people that have been bred for competition, so competition becomes a big part of it so so you have to, then you have to ask yourself well, is it possible to both be humble, to have humility and to be a competitor, and the answer is yes it’s definitely not only possible. But it’s actually useful in competition, it can be disarming to the people you’re competing against when you’re humble. And, and the people who judge your competition take notice of that humility, it makes you stand out and it actually helps you. Be somebody more exceptional so yeah there’s opportunity in humility, so if we go to the next slide we’ll talk even further about this. Does that that’s just one of the ways that you can gain from humility, you know that there are a lot of ways to gain from humility, some of them, I want to go through, just a few of them so let’s go to the next slide.

Kenneth Vogt 00:29:49 Alright being humble provides you with what I like to call armor against humiliation and we talked about this earlier it’s impossible to to humiliate someone who’s humble. You don’t have to worry about that, and if you’ve been in situations where you’ve been periodically or occasionally humiliated. It is a very, very uncomfortable situation, and it can be embarrassing or, worse, and it can really be career limiting to face humiliation on a regular basis. But this way you’re much more stable against humiliation, in fact, it comes to a point where why bother attacking someone who’s armored you’ll find less less attempted humiliation, because you’re just you’re not able to be humiliated so they’ll look for an easier target so that’s one of the benefits of being humble so let’s go to the next slide.

Kenneth Vogt 00:30:49 When you’re humble, you have the opportunity to learn. You, when you’re not humble, how are you going to learn if you think you know everything already. How can you grow if you already think you’re all that if there’s, there’s no possibility for you to be better. The only way you can get better is to recognize that there is a better that you’re not the absolute top of the heap. Now, that is not to say that you haven’t reached high pinnacles, it’s not to say that you, you may well be the world’s foremost expert on the subject you’re the foremost expert on but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing more than know, or no other way to grow and so by being humble you recognize that you can that you can be more and, if you look at this. You may realize that you’ve been humble already, that’s how you got to be that foremost expert, because you recognized all along, there was more to learn. That that there was more you could do, and part of part of this notion of being humbles you can, if you take the personality, out of it. You know it’s not it’s not personal when I say there’s more to learn, well doesn’t sound too personal when I say there’s more for you to learn all that might sound a little personal So if you can remove yourself from that equation because look there’s more to learn here, awesome then learn it and then, then you can know it, so you, you can put yourself back in when when it’s that positive attribute. But when it’s the negative attribute you don’t have to be there, so you know to set yourself, free from that kind of self judgment and you’ll find humility, is a little easier okay let’s go to the next slide.

Kenneth Vogt 00:32:32 Another benefit of being humble is you get along with other people, people don’t like blowhards they don’t like people that are always telling them that, that they’re smarter than them they don’t like. They don’t like that attitude, none of us do, and you know if you’re fortunate enough to work with a bunch of smart people and I’m fortunate enough that way I love that I’m surrounded by intelligent people. I love to be able to to build them up and point out the things that they, that they’ve achieved that I haven’t yet achieved because it gives me an opportunity to learn and, and of course they like that, I mean who wouldn’t like that? That introduction that Nick gave for me, there was a very humble introduction for Nick to give because it was very flattering to me, now you know i’m not i’m not gonna say that, though I didn’t want to hear that So you see now I can be humble and still like the idea that somebody will praise me or somebody will point out my accomplishments or success, so you don’t have to give up any of those things, and you can get other people to support you and it’s so much better, to have Nick telling you how great I am, then, for me to tell you how great you’re not going to want to hear it from me, but from Nick you’re a little more open and so it turns out better for everyone it’s better for the person being praised it’s better for the person who were persons or hearing the praise it’s better for the person who’s giving the praise, because they are being humbled by doing so, and so now everybody’s getting along better.

Kenneth Vogt 00:34:09 Okay, the next one. The next slide, so if you’re humble you’re going to do a better job of receiving advice, now you may look at that, like advice like Oh yes, you do you really do and it says, often you’ll ask for advice like I don’t know what i’m doing here, I need some help that’s advice and that’s fine, but I want to point something out here the advice, who asked for is useful. But the advice that you didn’t ask for that is the most useful and if you’re the kind of person who can receive unsolicited advice you’re going to get the best counsel of anyone you’re going to have the most opportunities to grow and you’re going to you’re going to have the opportunity to have your own blind sides pointed out to you, you’re going to learn things you didn’t know you didn’t know. There’s a whole episode on that and the podcast on the things you don’t know you don’t know. But this is one of the ways you open it up by being humble, other people feel safe to bring up to you that you know I think you need some advice here that you may not be aware of. Because a humble person they feel like it’s gonna be able to receive that but if you’re a prideful person they’re gonna i’m not gonna no way i’m not gonna go get my head bit off i’m not gonna bother let them, let them crash and burn not my problem you know. Whereas this way it’s like well, let me help them, because I think they can receive it, so it puts you in a position to have a much better console in your life.

Kenneth Vogt 00:35:51 All right, let’s move on to the next one. Self awareness feels strong so when you actually can see yourself what you really are, it’s strong now, that means that you get to see your own flaws and still feel strong you get to see your own strengths and still feel strong there’s nothing wrong with the fact that you have weaknesses, we all have weaknesses, there are certain things we just can’t do. You know you’re only so physically strong you probably know people that are physically stronger than you. Unless you’re, you know truly exceptional that way. But then again, you probably know people that are physically weaker than you. It doesn’t take away from who you are doesn’t matter and that’s just physical then then news intellectually, you know. Perhaps you’re extremely intelligent, but perhaps you’re, perhaps you’re just you know higher than average. But you’re surrounded by people that are extremely intelligent, fine, you can see that, and it will hurt you. That awareness will let you know where to put the safeties it’ll, it’ll let you know, and there are times when I should not go into battle, you know. Because, because I’ll get my head handed to me and then it’ll point out to that Okay, this is where I’m going to need help discern where i’m going to need support. So it gives you an opportunity to see things clearer, and clearer vision is, is such a blessing, it’s such a, it’s such a better way to go through life. And that doesn’t mean that you have to know everything or see everything, because you know, again as we’ve been discussing you discovery and imagination are a big part of your world you but, to be able to see clearly enough to know i’m seeing something i’ve never seen before that’s really important and you’ll get that kind of strength from having self awareness and self awareness, will be a natural result of being more humble.

Kenneth Vogt 00:37:59 Alright, to the next slide. The next thing we learned is that humility promotes self control, so another way of looking at that might be self discipline. It allows you to to make choices about what you will or will not do, and to be clear about what you can or cannot commit to and If you can get really clear on what you can or cannot commit to and people can count on you and can trust what you say and and will believe your commitments, that is very, very positive for your career, it makes your prospects far more hopeful and you have a lot more to gain there and humility, will allow you to have self control. You don’t, you don’t fly off the handle, you don’t demand things of other people, you don’t demand honor, you don’t demand respect and you can’t really demand respect. Respect is earned and it doesn’t matter and if somebody treats you with disrespect that doesn’t mean that you’ve earned disrespect understand that, but, but, If you get respect that you didn’t earn that’s a dangerous thing sooner or later the world will come crashing down sooner or later that house of cards will fall you don’t want that, so if you have self control and you’re displaying who you truly are. And you’re not overstating what you are and you’re not understanding what you are you again control works both ways that that self control, and we know we’ve talked about control, also in the, In the podcast but the notion here is that you can take charge of who you are, and you can be very clear about it, and that is very beneficial.

Kenneth Vogt 00:39:51 Okay next point and the final point we’re going to make about about self control humility is important for successful leadership now I was talking with a colleague recently about the concept of leadership and it’s been something i’ve been interested in my whole career and if you go back 30 years ago there there wasn’t a lot of literature on it there’s a little bit, and most of it, I was not too excited about it was it was about phony charisma and manipulation and and persuasion that approach manipulation. I didn’t love any of it, but then there was one book by by Professor by the name of Robert Greenleaf in it was entitled Servant Leadership and his whole concept was the purpose of a leader is to serve those who are under them and to help them gain the resources they need to get the training they need the support they need. That requires humility, for you to work for other people for their benefit teach them, to mentor them, to bring them up now, and I realized, some of you are new in your career starting your first, but some of you you’ve been there a while and leadership, the opportunity for leadership, is there for you and and the opportunity for you to really excel in your career will require leadership. Well humility, is a critical part of that if you’re going to be a successful leader if you’re going to be a leader that makes a difference if you’re going to be a leader that is respected humility will absolutely be required, and if you can be a humble leader you’ll be well loved, you’ll be well respected, you will be somebody that people will learn from and you’ll make an impact. You will make a difference, and for, for many of us, and once you reach a certain, reach a certain point in your career. You know you’re not trying to add to your resume now now you’re trying to leave your mark well humility, will help you leave that mark, so all right, well, we go to our to our last slide want to point out the final The final point is, if you want to be a Happy Scientist, be a humble scientists it’s all part of this this this whole thing about being a happy scientist, humility is one of the factors and it’s a big factor that will make a difference and whether or not you will have a career as happy scientist, so I hope that this presentation was helpful for you.

Nick Oswald 00:42:30 Okay, well, that was a slightly different format from normal, I didn’t find any reason to interrupt you, as I normally do.

Kenneth Vogt 00:42:36 I realized, where did Nick go

Nick Oswald 00:42:39 That flowed so nicely and and there wasn’t you know there wasn’t much to interject by just thought well probably discussion at the end is more of their appropriate for this one so obviously, we took people’s questions or if you if you want your questions into the questions box or comments or observations we can just incorporate them into the discussion, but it struck me I did find the title of this presentation about strange Ken shouldn’t it not be more like does arrogance harm your career.

Kenneth Vogt 00:43:14 Well that’s true but I think some people don’t care about arrogance I, but I wanted, I wanted to put out there that because for some folks the notion of humility, be a non starter like I can I can do that are you going to kill my career, you know.

Nick Oswald 00:43:29 Well, how about, can hu, could humility transform your career. I think we should give it a subtitle because, because, when you look at what you’ve put in there, you know, all the, all these the benefits of humility, which are you know the all ring true. What is there you know, why wouldn’t you do it other than that you’re hardwired not to you know it’s completely obvious that you should do and it’s, it’s more like you’re fighting against your own arrogance to get as much humility in as possible, in that case, because you get all of the benefits, you get the, you know I just had the self control you you bond with people more that means you get most more out of the people around you, you get more out of yourself you’re not resisting people all the time. It occurred to me that I accept advice from you an awful lot and but there’s always a part of me that doesn’t want to accept it, because it would be easier not to, sure, and but if I didn’t accept that advice that you know your observation that i’m writing I take on everything you say. But I examine the things that you give me and I go yeah you might be right and and give you the you know give you the benefit of the doubt even of having it’s not and I try or whatever, if I didn’t do that I would have missed out on so much. So many ways to improve myself but that part of that doesn’t want to accept their advice that thinks i’m right or in a way it’s keeping me so that I don’t have to try and figure out whether i’m wrong if you see what I mean, then, then, that is, that is, the that is the part that. You know, you know that you’re really fighting against so you’re trying to sideline as much as possible And it’s great and it’s.

Kenneth Vogt 00:45:20 In a world a lot lately and there’s yeah it’s if you say anything negative against me you’re against everything I stand for it’s like yo i’m just pointing out this this one flaw doesn’t mean that that everything else is in rock solid yeah maybe just one part could be looked at.

Nick Oswald 00:45:35 I mean realize that everyone is basically a crumbling wreck under the surface, that’s a bit extreme but you know I mean everyone has everyone has their faults and everyone has ways to improve and yeah it’s interesting that as well, one other thing that struck me was this whole thing about, you know arrogance is kind of a certain you’re assessing yourself perceived superiority. Or maybe your, your authority your superior superiority and kind of artificial hierarchy and

Kenneth Vogt 00:46:14 My notion of arrogance, but something I think is important so going to be truly arrogant is this got me an exaggerated sense of that it’s because you might really be all that in a bag of chips, but when you see yourself as more than what you truly are that’s where arrogance.

Nick Oswald 00:46:31 How about, how about an extension of that definition, where you are not recognizing someone or you’re trying to put someone else down because of your authority, because I think you could be super you could be amazing you could be you could be Ronaldo you know the greatest footballer or on well arguably the greatest soccer player if we’re looking at that way on earth. Now he’s quite arrogant tho and I don’t you know I think he’s in a way, quite a lonely guy, because he thinks so highly of himself.

Kenneth Vogt 00:47:04 yeah there’s a price to pay for arrogance

Nick Oswald 00:47:05 yeah yeah.

Kenneth Vogt 00:47:06 I think what a musician like Prince Prince was was the virtuoso any knew it and, and he let you know all the time, and it did cause the same problem you’re describing there it’s it can be isolating.

Nick Oswald 00:47:20 I wonder why they’re so hand in hand that you know that, you can’t just enjoy the fact that you have that well, you can, but a lot of people don’t just enjoy the fact that they have that special talent, but they don’t need, they don’t need to know.

Kenneth Vogt 00:47:37 The same game, or the same industry. One person will be very arrogant and another person will be, people with similar capabilities, why? Because they, this is what it took to develop their skill, they use that road that’s why i’ve said that. That i’m not saying arrogance doesn’t work because I can’t argue that it does work for some people, obviously it’s just it’s a harder road you know it’s a better road if you can go down the road of being humble, you can get to the same place with a lot with a lot less dings.

Nick Oswald 00:48:11 Okay, so here’s an interesting question just come in kind of relate to this, so I find the question is, I find the hierarchical setup in science, almost hard wires the system to promote people who are arrogant, how do we deal with this in our in our industry.

Kenneth Vogt 00:48:32 Well part of it is industry, an industry develops based on its people, so if arrogance continues to be rewarded, you know that’ll, that’ll be what happens so it might be a while, it might take a shift. And maybe you can be part of that shift, you can be part of if you help promote other people that are humble you know capable people to. If you take a stand for some, for other people, that are, are actually doing the work but aren’t arrogant about it, that can help improve that situation. The other thing too is you know the people that have succeeded don’t make them enemies, you know it’s it’s they’re not bad because they succeeded and, and even if you if you look down on their arrogance, you know don’t be judgmental about their arrogance it’s what’s worked for them it’s what’s got them where they are. And so that that’s what they’re going to be, but for some folks their arrogance isn’t, It isn’t coming out of self esteem it’s coming out of fear and and it’s it’s what they’re trying to use this protection they’re scared and they don’t want to be seen for what they are they’re afraid that people are going to know what they’re really all about.

Nick Oswald 00:49:47 Not even Krishna yeah that’s one thing that strikes me is that a lot of the times, these arrogant people appear, appear powerful our arrogance appears powerful because it feels like you just have all consuming confidence. But, in a way it’s not because it’s just as you’re saying you can be super you know super confident in yourself super arrogant underneath there’s just no connection, you know we talked in those and some of the earlier episodes about human needs, you can’t meet the needs of connection and and things like that, because you just thought you can’t let anyone in you know, in the extreme case right that makes sense.

Kenneth Vogt 00:50:23 Oh yeah and you know and one of the human need just significance and so, some folks they have an aching need

Nick Oswald 00:50:28 it depends on what you need more.

Kenneth Vogt 00:50:34 But you still have the opportunity then, to take it, there’s, there’s kind of a path, you know you could first look at somebody like that, and you can resent them, and it could make you angry. And then you realize, you know what I can pity them, I can pity them that they had to resort to arrogance. Well okay that’s not great, but it’s better than, better than being angry with them. Or you can take it, the next step, I can have compassion for them that they felt they had to resort to arrogance. And then I could start to see where, what could I do to help build them up, so you don’t need to resort to arrogance and what can I do to build up others that they don’t have to even start down that road. You can become part of the solution, and this is the long term commitment I will grant you. It’s not going to just change things overnight, but, but plenty of things change over time. So there’s, there’s no reason to look at a goal it’s going to take time well fine so it takes time, let it take time.

Nick Oswald 00:51:34 it evolves. Okay, I have, I have a point to make but here’s a question that just came in. Probably about the development of another developing the definition rather, of, of humility, really, what about being not arrogant or humble but just confidence.

Kenneth Vogt 00:51:58 Okay um. I don’t see any conflict between being confident and being humble in fact let’s being confident in this part of healthy self esteem, the beauty of humility still is that, by seeing myself as lesser I have an opportunity to gain more I can learn more I can be more if you’re confident you might already feel like i’m at the top of the heap.

Nick Oswald 00:52:28 that’s interesting, that’s interesting that just I just realized, something that I do, and it’s in anything that I’ve done, is where I start to feel like I’ve hit the limit, I kind of go right okay pretend that’s the bottom. And i’m at zero percent rather than 90% and then you know, of the ability, or the potential or whatever and.Does more for everything, because obviously have.

Kenneth Vogt 00:52:55 That’s how Rinaldo got to be an exceptional soccer wow that’s true yeah he probably was probably good as a kid. And he’s going to just stop there, but every day he went, how can I be better.

Nick Oswald 00:53:05 Well that’s that’s a reset a back to zero and you know you perceive i’m oh. i’m at 90% of my tend to say OK pretend that zero know how to get to the next hundred percent and then it just opens up because that’s one of the major downfalls. You know, personal prices of of arrogance is that you can’t see how to or you don’t have the drive to improve or you don’t see where you can improve I guess and that’s what.

Kenneth Vogt 00:53:34 that’s true in any field that has top performers they’re the people at the top, all of them are talented but it’s going to come down to after that then isn’t your natural ability, but how how hard are you willing to work at it, how much, are you willing to keep pushing forward. And if you’re confident in arrogance, you may be confident about things that aren’t even accurate, where humilty if you’re confident it will only go, be about things that are demonstrably true.

Nick Oswald 00:54:05 True that’s a good point. The other thing as well you know, like alarm bells if things are happening, you know you know, like what side of what side of my own of this equation if you’re thinking that. If you can’t accept advice from someone else, someone. Then you know, think of what you’re meant, you know what you’re missing out on. If you can’t invite, readily accept advice from people then you’re missing out on so much because you can get, you can basically learn something from every person.

Kenneth Vogt 00:54:36 That’s true, And they don’t have to be smarter than you in fact they can be a lot less smart oh.

Nick Oswald 00:54:40 yeah yeah.

Kenneth Vogt 00:54:41 You can learn from children, you can learn from people on the street or even in your field.

Nick Oswald 00:54:45 I mean exactly, there are some people who. You know who i’ve come across in science, who think that because they’re you know they’ve reached a level and science, that that somehow they’re more than someone who, maybe works in a manual job or something like that you’re just just like that or or or in any you know who’s not a scientist and yeah something to be really careful because. Some of the most intelligent people I know have zero qualifications and they’re just, you know, amazing people, and you know if you go down in life, thinking that somehow pieces of paper or what defines whether you’re worth listening to this, this is you’re missing out on so much right.

Kenneth Vogt 00:55:28 Well, I mean we i’m not trying to rob anybody of the things they’ve succeeded at or their accomplishments thus far you get to have those that’s fine. Just recognize that in, in the Sea of all possible knowledge, you have barely dipped a toe in so there’s a lot more to go here don’t don’t look at this little stepping stone, as if, like it’s the end all and be all, it’s not. it’s, it’s great that you’ve done it so now make good use of it.

Nick Oswald 00:55:58 yeah. let’s see what else, okay, so here’s a little question here. Okay. Can I help other people to be more humble?

Kenneth Vogt 00:56:11 Okay, again, the first thing I thought of there is for you really, really got to be clear on what your intending, If, if it was like, for I want to humiliate some people well you try that but you know that’s not going to turn out well. If you want, if you see that humility is valuable and you want to share something valuable with others, absolutely you can I mean. That’s what I’m doing right now. I’m promoting humility to people, and I hope that people are hearing this is coming from a, from a humble person. And it’s a silly thing it’s like for me to say, to tell you i’m humble almost sounds like an oxymoron you know or worse yet i’m more humble than you. But there, there is some demonstrable truth in levels of humility so know yourself first first humble yourself and then then you’ll be in a position to promote humility to others.

Nick Oswald 00:57:10 Alright, so I wonder if we can sort of finish up with a couple of just round it out with a couple of practical ways that people can start approaching this to kind of you know everyone, regardless of how humble you how much you exercise humility in and in your day to day or otherwise, you can always expand it. And so, and in my sort of view. It doesn’t matter where you are on that spectrum, you can always expand it, there’s always more, and so, and the way to, the way to do the way to do it is always the same, regardless of where you are on the spectrum. One was that I mentioned earlier, I can’t remember what it is now. What was that Ken.

Kenneth Vogt 00:57:56 I don’t know.

Nick Oswald 00:57:58 We have to rewind now, and I didn’t write it down. I did write it down but I scored it out, anyway Okay, well, another way is to to is to give yourself a challenge oh yeah the first one was to reset reset your own expectation or your own perception of how far up the tree you are back to zero, or some other way of representing that so that you go yeah okay i’m getting better it’s exciting, it’s exciting but i’m going to peel it back down to ground level and then see the gap above that I can move into and so that you don’t get caught up in the, i’m so great that I never have to learn anything again thing. The other one I was going to suggest is a little challenge to yourself to try and look for good things and other people and I’ve got a little, little anecdote there’s a completely left field. That, so we might son and I play this, this or soccer game online football soccer depending on where you are no one was an online soccer game that you play against other people. And we used to wind up getting really annoyed when other people scored against us and, and you know, and it would just when we lost and things like that. And then we decided hey let’s try to do this other way when the other person scores, let’s just kind of just to yourself, see that it was a good goal. And then, it just and then it’s me if you can train yourself to do that all that kind of goes away if you can just appreciate what they did, the skill that we had. So on a, on a kinda day to day level instead of picking out, you know, the challenge to yourself as to go around instead of picking out the flaws and other people pick it what is good and other people, and maybe even more yourself up for telling him that if it’s appropriate so that you then start opening out.

Kenneth Vogt 00:59:48 Even better telling a third party.

Nick Oswald 00:59:50 That yeah that’s better than one thing that struck me when you said or it’s great that someone at when someone else says how good you are. Actually the key to that is you actually have to earn it. You know. And so that sort of removes any sort of, anything of the arrogance trap, I feel like Ken you should make a little. A little cheat sheet on ways to not fall into the arrogance trap. I think that’s your, ah you normally set any homework, I think I should set you that homework.

Kenneth Vogt 01:00:18 That’s an interesting one.

Nick Oswald 01:00:21 Because arrogance really is a trap and higher humility, as the, As the kind that should be the default status and and you know if you don’t fall into the arrogance trap so it’s really about, in some ways to stay away from the arrogance of them seeking out the humility suppose it depends on how you look at it

Kenneth Vogt 01:00:40 yeah that’s definitely one approach to it it’s uh yeah I like that idea, I’ll have to look into that.

Nick Oswald 01:00:47 so yeah that would give people some actionable tips so come back to this once, you know, this is in the recording stage come back to this. This episode on find this episode and if Ken has done his homework, it will be on that page. So that’s there.

Kenneth Vogt 01:01:17 You know there’s a whole team behind these, these recordings and all the stuff that’s going on, and I just know that that’s just going to show up on my to do list.

Nick Oswald 01:01:26 I just, I just did this because I got homework last week, so you need some.

Kenneth Vogt 01:01:30 You know that, to be fair you assigned yourself the homework last week.

Nick Oswald 01:01:34 That’s true.

Nick Oswald 01:01:37 All right. And I have one more, one more question for you. So um there’s been a few comments from the, from the behind the scenes people on this podcast about this guy’s beard. And it struck me that you kind of had a filler version of that thing going on, what is your beard status at the moment, is it is there anything in that.

Kenneth Vogt 01:02:06 moment, I have a small goatee that’s rather short.

Nick Oswald 01:02:10 Right it’s not the wispy you had the wispy looking going, 

Kenneth Vogt 01:02:14 oh no, I had the Gandalf look there for a while there yeah you spend nine weeks without being able to go to a barber, Thank you hospital you get pretty hairy, let me tell you.

Nick Oswald 01:02:26 anyway. I’m sure that guy is humble enough to take the jokes. Okay, so that just leaves me to remind you about the, our Facebook group Where you can join up with us, you can message us there and say hello ask us questions, whatever you want, and we will be happy to be in contact with you there and also remember the episodes 1 to9 of this podcast we will talk about the things we did talk about the Foundational Principles of Human Needs, Core Mindsets, Charisma Factors and all the rest it’s really useful stuff to go back and dig into that in a couple of weeks, I think. Soon anyway, we’ll be sending you a few emails to follow up from these webinars that point out some really key resources. That, if this stuff rings your bell, the you know the key resources that we give you the role will help you to dive deeper, so I think that brings us to the end, yeah I think that was, I think that we were amazing there Ken.

Kenneth Vogt 01:03:35 we’re going to do this a little differently, Nick you are amazing.

Nick Oswald 01:03:37 Oh no okay you’re you’re a better yeah. Okay, thanks everyone for joining us and for your questions and interactions and thanks again Ken and we will see you all next time on The Happiest Scientist.

Kenneth Vogt 01:03:52 Thank you.


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