By Alan Gregerman

Alan Gregerman is a management consultant. From The Necessity of Strangers: The Intriguing Truth About Insight, Innovation, and Success (Jossey-Bass). ©2013

It's hard to be open to new people and new ideas when we believe that we know the best way to do things, or that our expertise and worldview are far better frameworks for solving problems, creating new opportunities, building organizations and teams, or serving customers. Not that we shouldn't be proud of what we know, but we should also appreciate the limits of our knowledge and the likelihood that there are even better ways to do the things that matter.

Humility also means being genuinely interested in learning new things, making new connections, and understanding the value of different sources of inspiration. And it is not enough to be open to ideas at the margins of our world; we have to be open to thinking in new ways about the very heart of the work that we do—the areas central to our lives and work in which we have already made a major investment.

Humility means acknowledging and accepting that our expertise is not sufficient for many of the challenges we face. This is very difficult to do, because any big change is likely to put us back to square one on the learning curve. But in today's world, we all have to commit to becoming nonstop and ever-faster learners.