Humility in Career Development

Authored by: Bryan J. Dik , Jessica Morse , Micah White , Adelyn B. Shimizu

Handbook of Humility

Print publication date:  December  2016
Online publication date:  December  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138960008
eBook ISBN: 9781315660462
Adobe ISBN: 9781317337164


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The fundamental goal in studying career development is to understand how people select, create, interact with, adjust to, and transition into and out of their educational and work experiences within the broader context of life as a whole (e.g., Brown & Lent, 2013). The study of virtues as factors that influence the career development process would seem a fruitful path for scholars to pursue, yet efforts to address these linkages empirically are conspicuously absent from the literature. One virtue in particular—humility, the focus of this edited volume—seems an especially likely candidate that may serve as an asset, or under some circumstances perhaps a detriment, to a person’s ability to successfully navigate the career choice and development process. Ask people to name public figures, past or present, who exhibited high levels of humility in their work, and you are likely to hear names like Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Teresa, or Mahatma Gandhi. Then ask for a list of people driven by a sense of calling, and the names may be the same. Based on such observations, intuition points to humility as a facilitative factor that promotes positive career development. Yet within many career paths, a certain amount of self-promotion may be required to advance or to sell ideas or products effectively. Similarly, in some highly competitive careers, a collaborative approach may undermine someone’s progress. To what extent is humility a barrier rather than a help in such circumstances?

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