Being Human

by Andy Howie.

“I don’t have much time today, so to help me focus I’m going to structure this blog into numbered points – probably five. And the subject that is on my mind is humanness. I was recently reading a Brene Brown book and she quoted from the USA Air Force manual on leadership from 1948 where one of the seven traits was humanness.

My first business was ‘Being Human’.

When I said this to Mark, the transcriber of this blog, I meant that the name of my first business was ‘Being Human’ but he interpreted what I said as meaning that my primary purpose on this planet is to be human. I recognise that there is truth in that, and asking the question ‘What is it like to be human?’ piques my curiosity and leads into my numbered points.

  1. I have learnt that humanness is essentially about being in relationship. For me, being human is about how I relate to others obviously other people, but also all living things and the planet. The people relating can sometimes be a struggle because I am quite a shy and introverted person. But relationships have to be attended to and be maintained. I see people struggling in relationships elsewhere too, such as in workplaces and in families.

As an aside, I’m now feeling a little uncomfortable with my original plan and I am thinking of making only three points, rather than five. Mark has expressed his surprise at my suggestion to structure this blog because it is unusual for me. I ordinarily prefer to approach the blogging process in a much freer, untethered way. But I am going to stick with it!

  1. Whether we like it or not, admit it or not, we are all emotional beings. Lots of problems occur in work and family when we try to deny or are unwilling to work with our own and others’ emotions. The people in my life who don’t hide their emotions are my three grandchildren and my elderly mum. Their feelings are sometimes displayed fully and, in that moment, it seems as if they are being very congruent. When expressed, the emotions pass; it feels a quite biological process. As we mature, it is useful to have some awareness and control over our emotions, but it is important not to shut them out completely. They are a barometer for how we are in a particular moment and if we don’t work with them, they can produce unproductive, perhaps even unhelpful behaviours. Working with our emotions helps us to be fully human.


  1. Taking time to ensure people are seen and heard as humans in workplaces and at home needs equality and balance in relationships. Roles and responsibilities can distort things and create unevenness and limit our natural authenticity.

As human beings we all at times and experiences when we have to manage anxiety, feel fear, have hope, imagine the future, make mistakes, do a good job, get things right, experience joy, regardless of our status or position. The freedom to be our authentic selves with all of the above and more is likely to flourish in balanced relationships in which there is openness, honesty and trust.

Being fully human sometimes seems easier in family and with friends, and yet we spend so much time in our workplaces. I wonder why we try to place limits on being human in work? Who is driving that? And how can we overcome it?”