Giving Compass' Take:

• Jennifer Lentfer, writing for Medium, discusses how more professionals in the social sector need to practice rigorous humility. She describes this as letting go of the fixation on evidence and measurement and accept the limitations of not knowing information, or letting other experts who are better suited to find solutions. 

• How can you practice rigorous humility in your work? 

• Read about showing humility and hubris in philanthropy. 

In the social good sector circles I travel in, we are thinkers. We high-mindedly question everything about “what works.” We obsess about gathering data to answer those questions. At what point does this all this thinking insulate us and remove us from the lived realities of people we’re trying to support?

We have more information at our disposal than at any other time in human history. I’m worried does this mean we have also been decreasing our risk tolerance for “not knowing”?

An idea I call rigorous humility can help us prevent and mitigate an unhealthy fixation on evidence and measurement. It means being humble about the limitations of what we can and cannot know. It means being rigorous about recognizing and responding to others’ full potential to be capable agents of change, with or without us.

The most effective and inspiring community leaders, philanthropists, social entrepreneurs, development practitioners, and agents of change I’ve ever worked with embody rigorous humility. They know the limits of their experience and their attitude and actions reflect that they see themselves as only one of many.

Rigorous humility involves:

  • Giving up the role of expert;
  • Active engagement in self-reflection; and
  • Taking concrete steps to bring power imbalances into check.

Read the full article about rigorous humility by Jennifer Lentfer at Medium.