At age 18, a rather triumphant Benjamin Franklin returned to visit Boston, the city he’d run away from. Full of pride, he had a new suit, a watch and a pocketful of coins that he showed to everyone he ran into. Quite showy for a boy who was not much more than an employee in a print shop in Philadelphia.
In a meeting with Cotton Mather, one of the town’s most respected figures, Franklin quickly illustrated just how ridiculously inflated his young ego had become. As they walked down a hallway, Mather suddenly admonished him, “Stoop! Stoop!” Too caught up in his performance, Franklin walked right into a low ceiling beam.
Mather’s response was perfect: “Let this be a caution to you not always to hold your head so high,” he said wryly. “Stoop, young man, stoop — as you go through this world — and you’ll miss many hard thumps.”
True humility is not thinking more of yourself than you ought to, or less. It is seeing yourself accurately as you really are.