On Modesty

718383_the_best_[1]I’ve been accused — more than once or twice — of being arrogant…or at least immodest.

I find this rather bizarre, because I think of myself as quite modest…maybe not “humble”, but certainly modest.

I think we have a kind of screwed up idea of what modesty really is.

See, much of what passes for modesty is actually false modesty. Downplaying or denial of ones own capabilities or achievements is not modesty.

True modesty is the acknowledgment that what you achieved, you did not achieve entirely alone through sheer force of personal will, combined with the recognition that on any given day, under the right circumstances, there’s someone else who could probably do what you did.

Whether it’s your parents, a teacher or mentor who inspired you, the team or friends that supported you, the giants on whose shoulders you stood, or whatever your idea of a higher power is — you didn’t do it alone. Share the credit.

And even if you won first place — guess what?  A very slight change in circumstances, and the contest could have gone the other way.  Even if you set a world’s record — records will always be broken.  Guinness adds about 2,000 new world records every year (out of around 50,000 submissions!). Simply acknowledge the capabilities of others, and put your own achievements in perspective — you’re not a better dancer/singer/runner/driver/etc. — you simply performed better on that day than everyone else who was there that day.

Be proud of your achievements, but never at the expense of others. That’s true modesty.

“If you done it, it ain’t bragging.”

Variously attributed to Bear Bryant, Will Rogers or Walt Whitman

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *