By Joleen Little BVSc MRCVS
Below are three reasons why humility is not a weakness in your Veterinary career:
#1—It lends itself to an intellectual curiosity.
The desire to continually learn things stems, at least in part, from curiosity. If you have so much confidence that you believe even on a subconscious level that you don’t need to keep learning, then you will not have the curiosity necessary to keep adding new skills and providing exceptional value as a person and as an employee.
#2—You can learn something from everyone you encounter.
This might seem like an ingratiating platitude, but it’s very much true. Everyone has something to offer in the way of new knowledge or new information. If you’re not humble, then you will be blind to this reality, and if you’re blind to it, then you certainly will not be able to benefit from it.
#3—It helps you to be open and receptive to feedback.
Feedback is not a personal attack; feedback is a gift. That’s because it can help you to quickly address areas of weakness so that you can improve them in the interest of continuously growing your Veterinary career. When you’re humble, you are more open to feedback and you’re more receptive to it, and you can’t benefit from what feedback can offer if you’re not open to receiving it in the first place.
As you can see, there are multiple benefits to having humility and being humble. It is not a weakness. If anything, people who lack humility put themselves at a decided disadvantage in the employment marketplace and the job market.
We all have “blind spots.” We all have areas in which we can improve. However, it requires the proper mindset, and the proper mindset consists of more than just being proactive, confident, and assertive. (Although all three of those things are necessary to varying degrees.) The proper mindset includes having humility and being humble. It does NOT include being overconfident to the point where you’re cocky and you believe that you “know it all.”
Let us not confuse humility with lack of confidence. In fact, it is quite the opposite. In my experience, veterinarians that exhibit the most humility are the ones that tend to have the most confidence and competence. They know that they are good at their craft, but also recognize that they are human and therefore not perfect, and may benefit from feedback from others, including non-medically trained clients.
As it turns out, clients also prefer humble vets to arrogant ones. Many surveys have shown that clients rank a veterinarian’s kindness, respect, and gentleness as most important when choosing a veterinary practice. I was a little surprised that a vet’s personal attributes were more valued by the client than the clinic’s reputation, services, location, and price. But on the other hand, it makes perfect sense that clients want to trust their vet—after all, they are putting the health of close companions into someone else’s hands.
So be proactive, be confident, and be assertive. But also, be humble . . . and enjoy all the advantages and benefits that go along with it!