Working in the world of data, humility is usually the last thing I think about. I’m not a proud person by normal standards, you won’t find me shouting in meetings when I don’t get my way, or telling people how much more I know than them. However, it’s recently come to my attention that I need a dose of humility, especially in my work with data.
Sadly, the culture of IT can be known for its harshness. It can sometimes breed competition as egos are continually pushing to show superior knowledge over one another. I admit, it’s hard to not be proud when you have one of the best jobs in America, and it’s difficult to not think you know more than others when you are part of the technology revolution, but this is why we need humility so much more. If we really want to take advantage of the big data and AI revolution, we need to work with diverse groups of people so we can solve some of the toughest problems of today. However, if we push everyone away with our pompous talk, we will be missing out on helping the people who really need it the most.
Don’t confuse humility with being a doormat that everyone can walk over. As C.S. Lewis said, “Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” So what does this mean? Humility is not about hiding behind a shell or putting yourself down, but rather, it’s about showing up just as you are; not less, not more, but as is.
When I start to do this in the world of data, I notice I do not have anything to prove; and when I stop trying to force outcomes, it allows me to collaborate effectively with others. This in turn opens me up to new ideas on how to solve problems and explore options I never thought possible.
So I ask, sit down with your user, put your agenda aside and listen. See them, be with them and understand them. If you really want to make the most of your work in data, then take a note from Kendrick Lamar and sit down, be humble.