A few weeks ago, after my coach Andrea Mather asked me to send her a weekly brag about something I had accomplished or felt good about, I decided to challenge my Facebook friends to do the same.
It was AWESOME. People! WE ARE DOING GREAT THINGS! And I loved hearing about EVERY SINGLE ONE.
One friend became a mother for the first time, adopting two children who had lived their first 10 years in foster care.
Another started a new business. One woman had a great interaction with her teenager. Others shared workout successes. It went on and on and on. Dozens of amazing responses. People bragging about the goodnesses they are bringing to the world. Shouting them OUT! And it was so fun and so uplifting. Obviously, I’m still thinking about it.
Shout Out the Good Stuff
And yet, we are so careful about sharing our own amazing. There is a fine line between bragging and sharing and it’s tough to know where is sits.
I felt so uncomfortable when Andrea first asked me for a weekly brag, and I’m not even an overly modest person. I think I am working hard to do good things and I’m proud of my accomplishments and equally as open about my failures.
But, it’s hard to know how to talk about it.
“Culturally, we bond over trading complaints, instead of sharing good things,” Mather says, from her Colorado office. “I want to shift the way we connect with each other. Sharing our successes inspires each of us in ways complaining doesn’t. It dares us to act on our dreams.”
And we need practice doing it she says. “Women seem to need more encouragement to build their bragging muscles. Think about how when we were growing up that the messages were often, ‘Don’t show off.'”
“But it is also good for women to see other women celebrate their successes. Then we can celebrate it with them and it inspires us to go after our dreams. That said I do know several men who would also benefit from the practice.”
What I Learned from Bragging
And while it was both uncomfortable and fun to share my carefully placed brags with close friends, my husband, and a few others, something else surprising came from the exercise.
“You suddenly realized you were exactly where you wanted to be and that you worked damn hard to get there,” Mather says. “There’s a real value in seeing and celebrating these moments instead of focusing on the next big goal(s). Otherwise, what are we chasing?”
By identifying where you are and all that is going well, you may just come to realize you’ve been doing what you set out to do all along. That’s a powerful insight.
But still, most of us won’t be spiking the ball and doing the dab in the end zone after a major score. It looks a little out of place during the wine bar happy hour. So how can we share our accomplishments without turning others off?
Here are some safer ways to brag:
Provide information, do not go all Kanye and tell us how great you are. If you have done something awesome, I want to know about that thing and your role in it. But, do I want hear you declare yourself the next Picasso with better hair than the rest of us? No, not so much. Keep your brag short and specific.
Go one and done. I want you to have THE BEST DAY EVER. But, most people probably don’t need to hear Every.Single. Detail. Give me the highlight.
Express sincerity and gratitude. I cannot tell you how MUCH I APPRECIATE every single person who has EVER shown up at one of my readings. I mean it. It matters so much to me. I’ve been talking about the book A LOT. Promoting on social media, doing radio and appearances and I worry that the news gets old and tiresome and braggy. But I do it, as gracefully as I can, because I care about this book and its message and I am going to get behind it. AND, then when someone actually comes to buy the book, or hear me talk about it, THAT IS A GIFT. When I brag about how great the event was, I also try to share my deep gratitude for ALL THE PEOPLE who made it a success. We are not doing this alone.
Find your people and listen up. I can share with my coach, Andrea. My husband and daughter and my mom. Of course my mom. I also have a few besties that enjoy my success as much as I do, and I theirs. Once in awhile, when it’s book-related achievement I’ll share it on FB. Most of my friends there are writers and they get it. Other friends have been encouraging from the get go and have helped me so much that I want to share my success with them. But, I’m very aware of who I’m bragging too and what I’m saying. And every time I have a brag, I want to be careful to listen to the brags of others. My friends and family members are doing great things AND I want to hear it. ALL.
And remember this: just because YOU HAVE GOT IT GOING ON doesn’t mean others are going to care. It’s okay. How others react is not your business, nor does it diminish the good stuff in your life. You can share your success, but don’t be attached to what others’ have to say about it. Don’t measure your success based on how many “likes” you get, but rather what YOU liked about your achievement.