Research Paper By Ivana Krcivoj
(Life Coach, CROATIA)
While choosing a topic for my research paper, I was wondering – What really stood up for me in my journey of becoming a coach?
The list is so long, I could create several research papers.
I have discovered how amazing, complex and resourceful we are as human beings.
I have discovered gratitude as powerful and life-changing. And at first, I thought I will write about gratitude, to explore how we apply an attitude of gratitude – as coaches and human beings. I wanted to discover more about the science of gratitude.
And then, when I already started my research, I have noticed that there is Gratitude’s close friend… staying gracefully in the background. It is called Humility.
My sincere belief is that as coaches we need to strive to humble ourselves in dignifying way and be of the best possible service to our clients.
The purpose of my research paper is to bring to the light the beauty and power of humility, and to explore some ways how we can practice and apply a humble mindset.
“…humility is perhaps an under-rated virtue. It sounds like a very Biblical trait. … However, just because humility is old-fashioned does not mean that it is no longer important.”
The Meaning of Humility
Definition of Humility by Merriam-Webster Dictionary: freedom from pride or arrogance; the quality or state of being humble
Definition of Humble by Merriam-Webster Dictionary
1: not proud or haughty: not arrogant or assertive
2: reflecting, expressing, or offered in a spirit of deference or submission
3 a: ranking low in a hierarchy or scale: insignificant, unpretentious
b: not costly or luxurious
Reading the definitions, we can see that there are many aspects of humility.
The aspect of humility that we are exploring here is the best stated in this quote:
True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less. ~ C.S. Lewis
This paper is exploring humility as strength and how one can benefit from having a humble mindset.
It is about putting aside our desires, judgements, expectations when we are of service to others. It is about accepting gracefully that others also have a lot to offer to this world. It is about embracing that we are all precious beings equipped with gifts which are supposed to make this world joyful and pleasant place.
Humility offers a sense of self-compassion and compassion for others.
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. ~ Proverbs 11:2
Humility and Gratitude
Research shows that people who are grateful tend to show higher levels of well-being and happiness (in other words, they feel better about themselves and their lives), and improved mental health. They may even sleep better!
Expressing gratitude to those who have given us something, whether that is out of the goodness of their hearts or in the line of duty, also helps them to feel good, and improves their self-esteem.
Gratitude has been shown to improve social ties and promotes more social behaviour. It makes other people want to show gratitude too. It is contagious.
Feeling and expressing gratitude helps you and those around you to feel good, and that tends to result in the good feelings being spread even further.
Humility and Integrity
Being truly humble comes from being honest to ourselves. Humility is closely related to honesty.
So how does integrity falls in this picture?
By its definition, integrity is being devoted to moral and ethical principles; being honest; the state of being whole (https://www.dictionary.com/browse/integrity).
Integrity is aligning your actions with your beliefs.
When we know ourselves and we are true to our values then we can be humble with confidence.
By leading life that is gracious, unassuming and character-driven we are setting a healthy foundation to build a life that is grounded in love and service toward others.
Humility and Kindness
Here is the definition of kindness provided by Pam (2013) in the Psychology Dictionary online.
It is a benevolent and helpful action intentionally directed towards another person, it is motivated by the desire to help another and not to gain explicit reward or to avoid explicit punishment.
There are many ways of how kindness is perceived and defined. Sometimes, similar to humility, kindness is considered to be a weakness.
Somehow seems that kindness goes “hand in hand “with humility. It is somehow like the outcome of the humble mindset.
Humility and Coaching
When I think of coaching application, here are some of the main points which stand out:
- Humility makes us fully present for our clients
- Makes us Generous
- Makes us Appreciative
For many of us, humility is one of the hardest traits to develop, because it has to start from the recognition that we are not always right and that we do not have all the answers.
And as coaches, one of the first things we are supposed to learn is that we do not give advice and solutions to our clients, therefore we are not supposed to know all the answers. Easier said than done.
Humility also requires acceptance of yourself which many of us find challenging.
I have observed that it really takes time to practice this awareness. Even though we can understand this when we read it, but in practice somehow we can easily slip into the solution-giving mode.
That is why I find developing a humble mindset so powerful, as it makes us ready to create a safe space for clients. Humility is like a coaching tool – helps us to set the scene and also to maintain non-judgemental space during the session.
“First, a humble spirit helps us remember that the coaching relationship is all about the client and not about the coach. In many helping relationships, the very nature of it requires that the “provider” be overly confident, competent, and self-assured because the process and the outcome is largely a product of his/her thinking. However, in coaching the client is responsible for the outcomes. The client is the one doing the thinking, dreaming, discovering…and the coach is in a helping role, with the purpose of making sure the client comes up with the answers. And please, believe me, that takes some humility.
Second, humility gives us a chance to believe that the client really does have it in them to figure out where they need to go and what they need to do to get there. When we humble ourselves and trust the other person – and the work of the Spirit in their life – we can trust that they don’t need our input and wisdom to solve their issues. I’ve found no quicker way to lose trust with a client than to begin replacing their thoughts with my own. And I’ve found no better way to resist that temptation than to come to the relationship and the conversation in a spirit of humility.
Third, coaches who demonstrate a humble spirit experience deeper learning and growth – for the client and themselves – in the coaching relationship. A lack of humility on the part of a coach can make them less open to something new and different to take place in the coaching conversation 
Coaching Presence is the fourth Coaching Core Competency defined by the International Coach Federation.
It is defined in the following way:
Being fully conscious and creating spontaneous relationships with clients, employing a style that is open, flexible and confident.
- The coach acts in response to both the whole person of the client and what the client wants to accomplish in the session.
- Coach is observant, empathetic, and responsive
- Coach notices and explores energy shifts in the client.
- Coach exhibits curiosity with the intent to learn more
- Coach partners with the client by supporting the client to choose what happens in the session.
- Coach partners with the client by inviting the client to respond in any way to the coach’s contributions and accepts the client’s response.
- Coach partners with the client by playing back the client’s expressed possibilities for the client to choose from.
- Coach partners with the client by encouraging the client to formulate his or her own learning.”
While studying coaching, I have noticed an interesting paragraph in the Module “Self-Management” which refers to applying self-management skills in coaching:
The heart of self-management is the ability to set aside personal opinions, pride, defensiveness, needing to look good and being right.
To connect this with humility – to be able to self-manage as described above, one needs to have confidence in his/her skills and values. Only then we can be humble with dignity and show up gracefully confident.
The intention of the coach is to support the client to discover his/her light. And by being humble in our coaching presence, we allow our clients to fully shine.
How to practice Humility?
Be curious in a compassionate way. When being humble, we can become genuinely interested in another person’s story. Humble mindset can support a coach to be more curious in a way which is ensuring a safe and non-judgmental space for the client.
Change your perspective – when we do the effort to see someone else’s perspective, we are moving the focus from us to them. It brings us in the state of humility as we are putting our thoughts, needs and expectations aside and we focus our full attention on the client.
When we are humble, we know it is okay to say I don’t know or I want to learn more. The quality of humility makes the coach step into the zone of curiosity.
By developing an attitude of humility we are preparing ourselves to enter coaching session with the intent of serving the client in the way which is the best for the client.
Humility can be practised through active listening. A key quality of humbleness is to value others and enable them to be heard. Spending time listening to others, and drawing out their feelings and values, enabling them to express themselves, is a very powerful way to start to understand this.
It is important to remember that you are not trying to solve their problems, or answer them: just listen and respond to them as a fellow human.
Be intentionally humble
To be able to create genuine non-judgmental space, it has to come from our intent. Our intention is what matters. Otherwise, it is fake and the client may sense it sooner or later. The fact is – we are all human beings and we sense each other energies. In the beginning, we may feel that we are putting more efforts to create this intent, but with practice, it becomes natural – like any skill or habit. Humility gives us the capacity to stay grounded and to be present.
Be grateful. Just mentioning gratitude again, as it is very important and truly helps us to stay humble.
Seek feedback regularly
Sometimes we may avoid asking for feedback because we do not want to hear something we don’t like. Feedback is a great way to learn and grow – professionally and personally. Listen to the feedback openly and then be grateful.
Humility is a valuable quality which helps us to set a healthy foundation for a happy and fulfilling life.
Whether we talk about coaching or any other life aspect – the presence of humility will bring lightness and positivity into space.
Being humble is not about putting yourself low and thinking you are not worth. Being truly humble is a sign of confidence. It shows that we trust ourselves, our intuition and we are aware of who we are in every given moment.
Humility gives clarity to coaches to know what kind of support they are supposed to offer to their clients.
For coaches, it is of extreme importance to ensure non-judgmental space for their clients. By developing a humble mindset we can assure that our clients will be in a safe space.
Being truly humble requires a high level of self-awareness, self-acceptance, self-trust and empathy.
Only seeing how many area we need to explore and work on to become humble, it tells me that humility is truly a strength and precious quality that all of us can develop in our minds and hearts.
A grateful heart is a beginning of greatness. It is an expression of humility. It is a foundation for the development of such virtues as prayer, faith, courage, contentment, happiness, love, and well-being.~James E. Faust
Videos – TED Talks:
 Be humble – and other lessons from the philosophy of water | Raymond Tanghttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIlSXRC-B-I
 Simplifying Humility And Integrity | Joe Sabini | TEDxUniversityofNevada
 Choosing Humility in a Self-Centered Age | Quincy Mix | TEDxFurmanU
ICA Module Coaching Presence: Confidence
 ICA ModuleCoaching Presence: Intent
 ICA ModuleCoaching Presence: Self-Management
 ICA Module Coaching Presence: Releasing Judgement
 HUMILITY – A COACH’S MOST EFFECTIVE CHARACTERISTIC https://coachapproachministries.org/humility-a-coachs-most-effective-characteristic/
 What is kindness in psychology? https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/character-strength-kindness/