I’ve decided there are predominately two kinds of people in the world. There are those who believe they’re doomed for failure and don’t bother trying to achieve anything of substance or, when they do, they sabotage themselves in spectacular, awe-inspiring ways. Then there are those hungry for success, ready to proclaim victory, roar in the face of mountain lions…you know the type.
While I applaud the second group for going after their dreams, they’re a bit obnoxious, don’t you think?
Don’t get me wrong, I think singing your own praises can occasionally be a healthy confidence boost. Rambling at length about your brilliance over finding a light switch, on the other hand, is not. In fact, I’d be willing to venture a guess that many who think they’re doomed for failure are nothing more than normal people who aren’t interested in bragging about success.
Since I don’t particularly like either option, I say we create a third, one where we get to achieve our goals and avoid running off our friends.
Accidental breeding of obnoxiousness
How many times growing up did you hear about the perils of being a bad loser? What about the necessity of being a gracious winner? Although I can see the merit in both, I don’t think parents and coaches explain them well.
Think about it. Do kids really understand the point of being nice to the punk dancing on top of the Monopoly board after their victory? Do they see it as a character-building moment or do they think their parents just want them to stop throwing green plastic houses at their brother?
And as for being a gracious winner….come on y’all. There are few things that feel as disingenuous to me as when kids walk by slapping hands and saying good game at the end of a game. Sure, a few of the kids seem to mean it, but most are just going through the motions until they get ice cream or pizza. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather hear the truth about how someone feels or nothing at all from them.
But I don’t have kids, so maybe actual parents don’t view forced niceties as fake. *shrugs*
The value in boasting about success
During the dawn of Man when the first caveman created fire, did he pat himself on the back and keep this accomplishment to himself? No. He ran out and grunted at all the other cavemen so they could bask in his awesomeness. It’s the same thing I do when I kill a spider and I want my husband to be sufficiently impressed by mastery of swinging a broom at things much smaller than me.
The point is that humanity is hard-wired to share success. It’s society that asks us to tone down our rampant chest-pounding to seem less like the ego maniacs we truly are.
But here’s the thing: We need to pound on our chests and declare our dominion over all obstacles.
Why? Because some accomplishments are turning point moments, stepping stones towards the next major accomplishment. In these moments, we can be satisfied with where we are or we can strive for more. Yes, some of us will keep going no matter what because we don’t know the meaning of the word complacency (and are too proud to look it up in the dictionary).
But some of us would stop. Sometimes, we need that external encouragement to spur us onward. For some of us, it’s the validation and praise from others that makes all the hours of exhausting, mind-bending work worthwhile.
And, as they say, if you aren’t willing to toot your own horn, who will?
How to be a
n obnoxious success
So, now we have two diametrically opposed goals to achieve. We need to set ourselves up for success by a bit of boasting, without becoming boastful. No problem. Here’s what we’ll do:
- Acknowledge when singing your praises is appropriate
- Major accomplishments on the job, finishing your novel, etc. (Let’s skip tales of spider-killing unless it was literally larger than you)
- Consider the feelings of those around you
- Doing the “in your face” dance over your promotion to a friend who recently lost their job is a tad inappropriate
- Exercise restraint in your self celebrations
- It’s cool to recount your victories for your friends; it’s not cool to do so each and every day – especially about the same thing
- Stop celebrating and get back to work
- You know that guy who tells everyone about his domination on the football field…25 years ago? Don’t be that guy. Celebrate and get on with it.
This is the ACES approach to boasting. Follow it and your friends probably won’t decide you’re an obnoxious jerk and jump ship. Don’t follow it and…you get the drift.
What’s your success style? Do you thrive on the praise of others or would you rather collect achievements in silent secrecy?
© 2011, Jen Whitten. All rights reserved. Using content from The Positive Piper without permission will cause the Negativity Beast to attack. BEWARE!