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Monday, April 4, 2022

15. Modesty

The Lines

Bottom. [6] If a man is faced by a difficult and complicated task, his work is made easier if he can do it without interference, and that is made possible by not having a lot of announcements and fanfare beforehand. Stirring up a lot of attention enables some people to think of all kinds of objections and reasons why it should not be done, whereas going ahead, doing it, and getting it over with avoids all those who think it their duty to oppose anything new.
2. [6] A modest frame of mind cannot but manifest itself in modest behavior, and this attracts good fortune to a man because it does not arouse opposition and negative feelings in those around him. Inferior people resent others who makes a show of their accomplishments, and do everything they can to defeat those they envy. But a modest man does not awaken such negativity, and this allows good fortune to come his way. He is able to exert great influence upon those who benefit directly from his actions, and those who are merely observers and could only offer interference have their attention focused elsewhere.
3. [9] Distinguished actions bring with them a distinguished reputation, but therein lies a danger. If a man takes himself too seriously, if he is too concern with his reputation and his legacy, he becomes self-centered, and that can interfere with the work he is trying to accomplish. He stops thinking about the necessities of the work, and replaces that with thoughts of the necessities for his reputation. But if he focuses on the work he must do and remains modest, his attention remains where it should. By remaining modest, he wins the approval of those who can help him in his work. He is able to concentrate on the contribution, rather than the contributor, and this enables him to bring his contribution to a commendable completion.
4. [6] A modest man is able to share the limelight with his subordinates, and does not try to hog it all for himself. If he provides recognition for those working with him, he gains respect for himself, because that is taken as evidence that he is not just a self-promoter. The inferior person cannot do this. He thinks only of how he can garner recognition and acclaim to himself, will try to deceive others regarding his own merit, and will often take credit for something when it rightly belongs to someone else. And there are also those inferior men who avoid recognition for themselves or anyone else connected with them, mainly because they have done nothing and fear the fact becoming known or having their true merit scrutinized. But the superior man who is modest is neither modest to a fault, nor does he conceal the recognition due his associates. He carries out his responsibilities with care and balance.
5. [6] If a man is modest, this does not mean that he is weak and ineffectual. It does not mean that he will not take stern measures when these are called for, nor does it mean that he hesitates and holds back from taking charge when action is required. When he is called upon to act, he does so not from a position of personal authority, but from his being the person responsible for the position that he holds in the community. It is not a matter of some exalted idea he has of himself, but simply a matter of doing his duty with fairness and objectivity. Even if harsh measures are necessary, he carries them out with resolution and dispatch, but not as an egotistical assault.
Top. [6] When a person is attacked for failings or weaknesses, he sometimes thinks he is being modest by not coming to his own defense. But this is misplaced modesty. Or he may try to escape blame by blaming someone else, which is weakness and cowardice. Again, he may back down under pressure and withdraw, saying to himself that he is being guided by modesty. But that is self-deception. The superior man exercises modesty by facing a situation directly, boldly, and fearlessly, carefully examining himself and his subordinates for any faults. His modesty expresses itself in his willingness to be perfectly open regarding any mistakes he may have made and not pretending he is so superior that it cannot be he that is at fault, and thus blame must be placed elsewhere. In this way, modesty includes both strength and courage.
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