The fact is that modesty, or even self-effacement, can be more effective than bragging in creating a good first impression. Most of us know this from being on the receiving end, yet we still err on the side of self-aggrandizement. But why do we get it wrong so much of the time? Here's where some new research may be illuminating.
Last month, I turned 58. As in 'years old.' Fifty. Eight. I don't care who you are, 58 is no longer "young." Body parts have shifted downwards. Skin has lost its memory yarn. Thighs ripple when we're standing still. Once-defined triceps now flap like sheets on a clothesline. Weight has moved into our hips and bellies with the tenacity of squatters on the back 40 of the Ponderosa.
I have learned this through decades of research and development on identity and leadership. Leaders with strong identities stay steady while others falter. They can handle the eventual necessary transfer of power, because who they are is not dependent on external factors or outside opinions. They validate themselves.
Allowing others to shine a light on our blind spots, particularly with respect to our faults, teaches us how to become better conversationalists, better listeners, and ultimately, better people in general. What we learn about our blind spots may not always be pleasant, but it can open up a whole new world we never even knew existed.