Emotion, Humility, Humanity

by Ron Potter

Howie Mandel, the comedian, identified these three traits of people who changed the world.  More than a comedian, I have always found Howie to be a deep thinker as well.  These were identified in a youtube video by Howie.


We often think of emotion as something inside of us and very personal in nature.  In fact, it has more to do with communication.

Even as I work with a team that has developed an app for being a better team, it seems like every day we find ourselves talking about how we should communicate with people who may be interested in our app.  We talk about communicating with emotion.   If people don’t feel the message, if our words don’t invoke a deep connection, they’re just words.  A software app lends itself to communication with logic but people seldom remember logical statements.  They decide right from the beginning if they agree with the logic or not.  If they agree, then they don’t feel like they’re learning anything new.  If they don’t agree, the words are almost immediately shut off and seldom remembered.  Communicating with logic doesn’t create much movement.

Communication with emotion creates a deep need to listen and learn.  Emotion is about communication.


Humility should not be a new concept to you, the reader of this blog.  We’ve talked about the need for humility many times.  It is number one on my list of great leadership traits.   Humility says we’re all in this together—let’s figure it out together!  Lack of humility is ego.  Ego says “I have all the answers—listen to me and do what I say.  I’m smarter than you.”

Humility says I don’t have all the answers.  Humility wants to know what the other person thinks and gives that information equal status. They may have a better idea.  They certainly have a point of view that makes others think and see things in a different way.

Humility listens to other people with the intention to understand.  People feel heard.  It makes people want to be more of a participant.  Humility is powerful.


I’ve written in previous blogs about an exercise I used when working with teams.  I called the exercise “Human beings, not human doings.”

I always started the session with a couple of simple rules:

  1. Listen with the Intent to Understand.  You could ask questions, but only to clarify or increase your understanding.  No advice was to be offered, just listen.
  2. Put away anything you may have in front of you: papers, reports, and most importantly phones.  Pay attention to the other person.

The process was simple.  I asked each person to share a person or event that has deeply shaped their values.  We never ended a single meeting without tears.  It deeply affected people.  They were being Human Beings.  It was not about what they did or what was their title.  This was exposing their humanity.

These three things: Emotion, Humility, and Humanity were three traits that Howie Mandel claimed were possessed by people who had changed the world!

I agree. We may define your world as your team.  We may think of an impact on the whole world.  But without these three, you don’t have a chance to influence either.

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