Intellectual Humility Goes a Long Way

Honesty and intelligence aren’t mutually exclusive.

I think a big component of the whole FOMO thing is that people don’t like admitting to others that they’re not in the know on the current big thing. When I was a young’in, all of my friends would be singing a dumb song they found online at the lunch table, and I’d have no idea what they’re talking about. I wanted to pretend like I knew what they were doing, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. If you’ll pardon me for tooting my own horn for the sake of example, this was an instance of what’s known as “intellectual humility.”

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Normal humility, as I’m sure you know (but won’t begrudge you if you don’t), is admitting that you’re fallible, that you’re not perfect. By that same token, intellectual humility is your capacity to admit when you don’t know something. It’s a good trait to have, because being able to admit when you don’t know something is the first step toward learning about it. In fact, according to studies conducted by Pepperdine University in California, people who exhibit greater intellectual humility tend to be smarter in general. It’s like that old saying goes, the wisest man is the man who understands that he understands nothing.

So whenever you’re in a situation where you’re caught with your metaphorical pants down, don’t be afraid to admit that you haven’t the foggiest idea what’s going on. Every blank spot of knowledge is an opportunity to fill it up, and knowledge is power. Plus, people just tend to like humility in others. Tell me you don’t love a smart, humble person. I dare you.

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