Benjamin Franklin’s Virtuous Life: The Virtue of Humility

In the late 18th century, Benjamin Franklin’s grandson established a moral code of conduct for his descendents. These rules have been passed down from generation to generation and are still being followed today in some places around the world.

Though Benjamin Franklin was a renowned inventor and politician, he did not forget the importance of humility. His famous saying “No man is good enough to govern another man without that other’s consent” illustrates his commitment to this virtue which led him to live an exemplary virtuous life.

Benjamin Franklin’s “daily goals list” have been passed down to us. These are the things that he did every day in order to be a virtuous person.

This is the thirteenth installment of my series on living a virtuous life like Benjamin Franklin.

A guy with a cocky swagger, a renegade who forges his own way and stands strong and ready to take on the world, is the common picture of manliness. “Humility” does not seem to be a part of this picture. Humility is often associated with notions of weakness, submission, and fear. However, this is an erroneous notion of humility. True humility is a sign of inner strength, self-assurance, and bravery. It’s a sign of a real gentleman.

Achilles’ Arrogance

The value of humility was often discussed by the ancient Greeks. The terrible, sometimes deadly ramifications of hubris-excessive, arrogant pride were a recurring topic throughout ancient work. Hubris was believing you were smart while you weren’t, according to the Greeks. Homer’s The Iliad is one narrative that emphasizes the virtue of masculine humility.

We see young Achilles, the formidable Greek hero, sulking in his tent throughout The Iliad because King Agamemnon snatched his slave lady. Meanwhile, Achilles’ people are being slaughtered by the Trojans. Even after Agamemnon apologizes and returns the lady in the hopes that Achilles would begin fighting, Achilles continues to behave like a spoiled brat and refuses. In fact, he begins to collect his belongings in preparation for his return to Greece. He is devoid of any sense of humility. Because of his inflated feeling of self-importance and egotistical pride, he attempts to save his own skin while his teammates suffer.

As a consequence of this pride, the mighty Trojan, Hector, murders Achilles’ companion. Achilles resolves to fight only when it has gotten too late. Even yet, it isn’t for his nation; he is driven by a desire for vengeance. After killing Hector in battle, Achilles ties up Hector’s corpse to a chariot and carries it around the walls of Troy for nine days in an act of total disgrace.

While many people now see Achilles as a hero, the ancient Greeks saw him as a symbol of the terrible consequences of arrogance. While they respected his famous combat prowess, the most important lesson they learned from his narrative was the need of humility.

What exactly is humility?

Humility does not have to mean being afraid or becoming a wallflower. Instead, humility demands a man to conceive of his talents and activities as equal to, if not greater than, their true value. True humility requires a guy to know and be entirely honest with himself. He honestly examines his strengths, gifts, problems, and limitations, as well as the extent to which he has them.

Pride is the lack of humility. We’ve been taught that pride is a positive trait. However, pride only works when you compare yourself to others. Don’t measure your value by how you compare to others. Instead, concentrate on yourself and ways to develop. The following is what C.S. Lewis had to say about pride:

The argument is that each person’s pride competes with the pride of everyone else. I’m irritated by someone else being the main noise at the party because I wanted to be the big noise at the party. Two people in the same profession never agree. What you want to understand is that pride is fundamentally competitive—it is competitive by nature—while the other vices are competitive simply by chance. Pride derives no joy from possessing anything; rather, it derives pleasure from possessing more of it than the next guy. We claim that individuals are proud of their wealth, intelligence, or beautiful looks, but this is not the case. They take pride in being wealthier, wiser, or more attractive than others. There would be nothing to be proud of if everyone were equally wealthy, intelligent, or attractive. It’s the satisfaction of being better than the others that makes you proud. When the aspect of competition is removed, pride is also removed.


What is humility not?

People often mistake humility with fake modesty in their attempt to be humble. I believe we’ve all done it at some point in our lives. When we get praise for a significant achievement, we often behave as if what we achieved wasn’t all that significant. For example, we may spend several hours methodically putting up a great presentation for work, only to respond, “Oh, that was just something I threw together,” when complimented. Under the guise of humility, we have a propensity to undervalue what we’ve accomplished. People often adopt the garb of fake humility in order to get more admiration and adoration from others. “Wow, he stated he simply put it together!” you want people to think. Imagine what he might have accomplished if he had worked on it for hours.” When you achieve something successfully, don’t exaggerate your accomplishments; instead, be honest about what you did.

What are some ways to develop humility?

Don’t forget to give credit where credit is due. The conceited individual will claim as much credit as he can for a triumph. The modest guy strives to bring attention to all of the other individuals and strokes of luck that contributed to his achievement. No one climbs only on the backs of his bootstraps. Innate skill, a supportive family member, friend, teacher, or coach, and good fortune all play a role at some point.

Don’t let your name or experience slip. Have you ever been in a discussion with a guy who felt had to mention how he’d gone to Europe twice, received a 4.0 in college, frequents high-end restaurants, or knew a renowned author at times when such morsels of information weren’t appropriate? These folks are really obnoxious and are essentially attempting to brag about how awesome they are. They seek the lion’s share of attention because to their excessive feeling of self-importance. These guys are definitely insecure; they don’t believe they can pique others’ interest without putting all of their attention grabbers in front of them. A modest individual may keep his abilities to himself. He recognizes that others have equally significant and fascinating tales to tell, and he knows that his moment will come.

Do what is required of you, but don’t make a big deal out of it. The principle of doing your duty was known by my grandparents’ generation. Tom Brokaw made the following statement in his book The Greatest Generation:

The generation that came of age during World War II performed exactly what was expected of them. But they never mentioned it. It was stipulated in the Code. A man in a football game who accomplishes what is required of him — makes an open-field tackle — then gets up and dances about is a great metaphor. Jerry Kramer just stood up and went off the field after throwing the block that won the Ice Bowl in 1967.

Why don’t we learn anything from our forefathers? Do something because that’s what you’re meant to do, be humble, and keep quiet about it.


Volunteering and philanthropy may be done anonymously. When a proud man does a generous deed, he wants everyone to know. They casually mention the amount of money they contributed to a charity, share photos of their service on Facebook, and never pass up an opportunity to remind someone they helped of their kindness. They’re clearly serving for the wrong reasons: to bolster their egos and acquire acclaim. True generosity is selfless and carried out entirely for the benefit of others. Try keeping something good to yourself the next time you do something kind. It’ll put your macho humility to the test.

Stop trying to outdo each other. Few things irritate me more than a guy who is always trying to outdo others in conversation. “I once went to a Rolling Stones concert,” you remark. “I had backstage access to a Rolling Stones event once,” he recalls. Whatever the one-upper says, the one-upper must outdo him. Don’t give in to the impulse to participate in these pissing competitions. You’ll almost always wind up having urine on your shoe. If you see someone trying to outdo you in this competition, be the greater guy and let him have his moment of triumph. People will remember how much of a gentleman you are years later, even if they speak about that guy’s fantastic tale the following day.



Benjamin Franklin was a man who had many virtues. One virtue that he possessed was humility. He knew that he wasn’t perfect and never claimed to be, but his humility allowed him to make the best of every situation. Reference: how did benjamin franklin die.

Frequently Asked Questions

What did Benjamin Franklin say about humility?

A: Benjamin Franklin said, Humility is the basis of all true greatness.

What does Benjamin Franklin mean by virtue?

A: The quality or state of being virtuous.

What was the purpose of Benjamin Franklins 13 virtues?

A: Benjamin Franklin originally created the 13 virtues in his book The Way to Wealth. He was not only a moral philosopher, but also an inventor. His philosophy is where he saw that wealth could be attained through skillful trade and industry. The thirteen virtues are listed below

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