Skip to content

Humility and Personal Growth: 4 Ways to Stay Teachable

By Maxwell Leadership | August 15, 2023
Humility and Personal Growth: 4 Ways to Stay Teachable

This blog post has been adapted from Dr. John Maxwell’s personal development resource, The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth. John Maxwell has been one of the world’s foremost personal and professional leadership experts for more than 40 years, and this guidebook for personal growth teaches you how to use everything – even losses – to your advantage. You can pick up a copy here.

If you’re familiar with the story of Peter Pan, you may recall some of its most prominent themes: motherhood; fairness and good form; children and their nature. But one common thread we find in the story is the contrast between the ordinary and the fantastical – the desire to keep hold of magic and passion as we grow older.

So it will come as no surprise that Peter Pan’s playwright and author J. M. Barrie observed, “The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story and writes another; and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he hoped to make it.”

Most people, if they are honest with themselves, will likely admit that they fall short of where they could be in life. Unlike what Tom Hanks said as Forrest Gump, life is not a box of chocolates. It’s more like a jar of jalapeños. What we do today might burn us tomorrow!

Perspective Means Progress

Most of us go to bed with noble ambitions for the next day. But sometimes, when we wake up, we start the day off with mistakes and missteps. And often, they’re the same mistakes and missteps we’ve started the day with hundreds of times before!

A humble attitude can help us keep growth top-of-mind. Author and pastor Andy Stanley says, “I’ve concluded that while nobody plans to mess up their life, the problem is that few of us plan not to. That is, we don’t put the necessary safeguards in place to ensure a happy ending.”

So how do we keep a humble perspective?


It’s said that President John F. Kennedy kept a small plaque in the White House with the inscription “Oh God, thy sea is so great and my boat is so small.” If the person known as the leader of the free world can keep perspective of his true place in the world, so should we.


Rick Warren gives good advice about how to remain humble. He suggests admitting our weaknesses, being patient with others’ weaknesses, and being open to correction. What’s great about this advice is that any one of these pillars helps bolster the other two: the more we acknowledge our own weaknesses, the more motivated we become to improve them, and the more grace we offer others when they fall short; and so on.


People with a beginner’s mindset have an advantage when it comes to growth. They think of themselves as apprentices instead of experts and, as a result, have a humble, teachable posture. They try to see things from others’ perspective. They are open to new ideas. They possess a thirst for knowledge. They ask questions and know how to listen. And they gather as much information as possible before making decisions. And these habits and practices help them learn, act, and grow more effectively.


Consultant Fred Smith said, “We do not stay grateful because that makes us indebted, and we don’t want to be indebted. The biblical phrase ‘sacrifice of thanksgiving’ was a puzzle to me until I realized that gratitude is acknowledging that someone did something for me that I could not do for myself. Gratitude expresses our vulnerability, our dependence on others.”

A Chinese proverb says that those who drink the water must remember those who dug the well. Everything we do, every accomplishment we have, every milestone we pass has come in part because of the efforts of others. There are no self-made men or women. If we can remember that, we can be grateful. And if we are grateful, we are more likely to stay humble than if we aren’t.

Confucius asserted, “Humility is the solid foundation of all the virtues.” In other words, it paves the way for character growth, and that sets us up for personal growth. These things are definitely connected.

Ready to take a step forward in your personal growth journey?

THIS WEEK ONLY: Grab your seat to the Day to Grow Conference (March 9th in Orlando, Florida) for only $79. But hurry, this discounted ticket price goes away after Monday, August 21, and the fee for in-person Day to Grow will never be this low again. Click here for tickets.

More Articles

Do I Believe The Best In Others?
By Mark Cole | March 1, 2022

Do I Believe The Best In Others?

By John C. Maxwell | October 6, 2021


The 5 Key Resilience Traits You Need Right Now
By Valorie Burton | September 21, 2021

The 5 Key Resilience Traits You Need Right Now

Be the first to comment on "Humility and Personal Growth: 4 Ways to Stay Teachable"

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *