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Monish Subherwal Leave a Comment

What is Humility in Design?

Humility is a modest view of one’s importance.  Humble designers realize they are no more important than others – putting their pants on one leg at a time too.  They also realize that they are no less important than others either.

Understanding this balance between valuing yourself and valuing others, I believe, is essential to collaborating well with others, whether you are a junior designer or chief designer officer.

Why is Humility Important?

No one likes to work with someone else who thinks they are smarter or better than everyone else (even if it’s true!).  While “genius design” sounds cool (think, Steve Jobs) it can lead to one person (or group of people) demoralizing, devaluing, and demeaning others (think, Steve Jobs) all for their own goals or benefit.

Designers who believe they are better than others, end up not being good team players who no one would like to work with.  This kills collaboration and can jeopardize your career and work projects.

Author’s note:  I’ve worked at a few places where some designers thought they were better than others.  There was always an aire of pretentiousness and judgement which caused others to be more competitive or fearful/doubtful.  Psychological safety was an issue. 

To be 100% honest, I too have fallen into the arrogance trap and thought myself as “special” (we, as a human condition, are constantly judging and comparing ourselves to others).

Ways to Develop More Humility

The first step is to remember that being humble isn’t something you have or don’t have (side note: Humility is what we call a nominalization – it’s been made into a “thing” but really is just a process).  Humility is something that you actively have to cultivate.

As I mentioned earlier, there are two parts to humility.  Valuing yourself and valuing others.


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