Recognizing the limitations of your knowledge
“When we set out upon the search for truth we should not assume that we already know for certain what truth is…”—Mary McLeod Bethune
Why does intellectual humility matter?
When you approach life with intellectual humility, you open your mind to learning. You are able to learn from opposing views and have more constructive discussions, even when you disagree. No matter how old you are, with intellectual humility you become wiser. It helps you be less judgmental of others, learn more in school, and be a better leader.
Think about yourself. How many of these things are true?
- I question my own opinions, positions, and viewpoints because they could be wrong.
- I reconsider my opinions when presented with new evidence.
- I recognize the value in opinions that are different from my own.
- I accept that my beliefs and attitudes may be wrong.
- In the face of conflicting evidence, I am open to changing my opinions.
- I like finding out new information that differs from what I already think is true.
How do I encourage purpose in others?
Model it. Engage in activities that connect to your own purpose, such as meaningful work, volunteering, or creating art—and invite young people to participate with you. Talk about your goals and why they are important to you: “I volunteer at the library because I think everyone should have free access to books and information.”
Celebrate it. Praise and support actions that serve a larger purpose: “I love that you participated in the local cleanup day—picking up litter makes the town better for everyone.” Point out connections between activities and long-term goals: “It makes sense that you’ve joined the Girls Who Code club at school, since you’ve always been interested in computers and can now help teach younger kids.”
Enable it. Encourage young people to talk about their values and the kind of person they want to be. What do they want to contribute to the world? Notice sparks of potential purpose in children’s interests and guide them toward opportunities to engage with them in meaningful and productive ways, such as volunteering or joining a club. No matter their age, children can be helpful to others.
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