Modesty – The Most Elusive Character Trait

Modesty is often confused with poverty of means and spirit, it is the attitude that allows us to look at the world from a different point of view: that of those who allow themselves to be surprised.

It is the most elusive of qualities. Because if you really have it, you don’t know. And if you say you are modest, it already means that you are not. Then when we use the adjective to define something else other than us – “a modest person”, “a modest house” – we are only taking away one problem: we do not have in mind the declination of a virtue opposite to haughtiness, but a person not really bright in the first example, or a poor house in the second.

When it comes to modesty, the first feeling you have is negative! Because sometimes those who are modest underestimate themselves and therefore do not have a fair idea of themselves in the negative, or because, very often, those who show themselves modest, wear false falsehood, and therefore, in the same way as a proud one, tries to deceive others by negatively distorting his abilities.

In reality, modesty has never been a goal in the evolution of human beings!

But, at this point, what do we really need modesty when, by not cultivating it, we can make it more successful? Simple: because those who boast, those who are more confident than their abilities allow, emerge by themselves, those who cultivate modesty emerge together with others, therefore share with others their luck and their life experience (and how the world is going nowadays, there is more and more need).

When we are not humble, when therefore we do not cultivate modesty, we tend to diminish the contribution of others (and there are never goals achieved alone). When we are falsely modest, we overestimate others and diminish ourselves. Both cases are wrong both because everyone (we or the others) get a wrong idea of our abilities (which will disadvantage us in the future) and because, simply, it is not true.

Modesty is only “not bragging about one’s results”, in a nutshell, this value derives from humility, that is, “recognizing one’s limits”. And recognizing your limits simply means living in real life. Those who are not modest, those who boast, in addition to being unpleasant, do not live in reality, because they either overestimate their abilities (and therefore do not have a right idea of themselves) or intentionally amplify them (thus giving others a distorted idea of self).

If we could consider things with a little attention, we would discover that the most “convenient” inner virtue is precisely the ability to be modest: it is rewarding, full of life, it brings with it positivity, optimism.

It has to do with an open attitude towards the rest of the world: when we think, observe, feel “modestly” what matters is the experience that is generated and that we face with confidence. The non-modest, on the contrary, measures experiences according to a self-referential logic: his only metric is confrontation and, the anxiety of being/becoming the best empties the pleasure of learning, shakes the eye, abate curiosity.

The true modest are not at all resigned or renounced: they are those of us who have understood how to be in the world without obsessions and personal insecurities get in the way. They are actually the strongest and most aware.


Aldo Delli Paoli
Aldo Delli Paoli
Aldo is a lawyer and teacher of law & Economic Sciences, "lent" to the finance world. He has worked, in fact, 35 years long for a multinational company of financial service in the auto sector, where he held various roles, until that of CEO. In the corporate field, he has acquired skills and held positions as Credit Manager, Human Resource Manager, Team leader for projects of Acquisition & Merger, branch opening, company restructuring, outplacement, legal compliance, analysis and innovation of organizational processes, business partnerships, relations with Trade Unions and Financial Control Institutions. After leaving the company, he continued as an external member of the Board of Directors e, at the same time, he has gone back practicing law and was a management consultant for various companies. He has been also a columnist for newspapers specializing in labor law, automotive services and work organization. His interests include human behavior in the organizational environment, to the neuroscience, the impact of new technologies, the fate of the planet and people facing poverty or war scenarios. He loves traveling, reading, is passionate about many sports, follows the NBA and practices tennis.

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  1. Dear Aldo, your article moved me to my core, made me cry. Most importantly, I’m grateful for how you made me feel!

    I tried once to summarize all the incredible virtues of the servant leaders making people attracted to them without even understanding why. My favorite one is definitely “humility”!

    My real painful transformational journey — since I also had a first fake one exclusively fueled by the positive affirmations making me stay at the leaves and ending with an existential crisis and a trauma following an abusive relationship — was triggered by observing the cosmos with my heart and figuring out how much the whole planet earth was in it; needless to talk about my small self. I realized how much nonsense and ridiculous it was to believe I could be the center of this world.

    This humbled me so much. This humility was actually the starting point of admitting how much I suck so that I could unlearn and learn again…

    I am currently trying to educate about the art of manipulation — used by many pretending being leaders and succeeding to some extend thanks to their charisma and how much their followers have no clue about the critical thinking skills — among other topics. Some very obvious red flags I recommend people to pay attention to are those kind of sentences: “the best deal you can have, your saviour, the queen, the most talented guy, etc…”

    Thank you again for this gem 💎👏🌞

    • It was not my intention to attract such attention.
      However, if my thoughts are welcome, I can only be happy. Thank you for the kind thought that I warmly reciprocate.
      Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted (Gospel Luke 14: 1.7-14)
      True humility, therefore, is a source of trust, courage and freedom. Humble people do not beg to gain the recognition of others and do not get discouraged when they do not get it, because their happiness does not depend on the opinion of others.
      Being truly humble and living in an authentic way makes others feel at ease. Because it is easy to deal with them because they do not feel the need to impose their opinion or always be right. They do not fear criticism, because they do not need to protect a false self-image. Humble people are grateful, able to recognize the generosity of others, and are empathic, knowing how to be merciful to others’ failures.
      Wish you and your closed ones an excellent health, loads of success and happiness.

  2. Aldo, modesty explained in a way that also relates to an understanding that we can acknowledge what doesn’t need to be an obstacle. Allowing those who carry the modesty understanding without obesesing about our insecurities.

    • My heartfelt thanks for your time and appreciation.
      It is an honor for me to have your precious friendship.

  3. Thank you for this, Aldo! When I think about modesty, I also envision humility. I will echo Cynthia, “thought-provoking” is how I would describe your fabulous article. Yes, it is about balance, not too much but not too little. What I derive from this is to recognize your strengths, be confident, not arrogant, but also be aware of your limitations.

    • Thank you for your attention and for the considerations you add on which I absolutely agree: it takes balance.

    • And for me it is always great satisfaction that you find time to read me and add a touch of your experience and wisdom.

  4. Thought provoking! I believe digging in to become the “best you” is unrelated to comparing yourself to others. Or to prior phases in your life, when you may have been focused on other things. Or more or less capable for other reasons. Thanks for a well written article that, implemented by each of us, can change the fate of the planet. blessings, Cynthia

    • Thanks Cynthia Ann.
      I did not imagine that my considerations could contribute to “change the fate of the planet”!
      Thank you very much for reading and commenting. Really kind.