Believe the hype

How did you respond the last time someone paid you a compliment? Did you smile and say thank you? Or did you look embarrassed, shuffle and mumble something about it not being good or your outfit being old? Chances are, it would have been the latter response. We (especially us Brits) are programmed to think that celebrating our achievements is arrogant or conceited. I would like to show you that bigging yourself up doesn’t have to mean having a big head.

Recently-published research reveals that psychologists have discovered that bullied children tend to use self-deprecating humour, making themselves the butt of their own jokes to try to amuse their classmates. Sadly, this just reinforces the negative view of them that the bullies hold and, inevitably, makes the bullying worse.

When you are grown-up, it is not just self-deprecating jokes that let us down. Many of us don’t know how to graciously accept a genuine compliment, or how to say what we are good at. This can drag us down and stop us doing what truly makes us happy, or follow the path that might lead to us achieving our dreams.

Timothy Gallwey, in his book The Inner Game of Stress talks about becoming the CEO of your own life. What if you had a Director of Public Relations on your own personal Board? Let’s say your company is called I Am Awesome PLC. Think about what they would say about a recent self-effacing comment you have made about yourself (and, therefore, your corporation). Chances are, they would be pretty frustrated with you and your self-sabotage. They would be encouraging, nay, creating opportunities to let the world know why, exactly,  I Am Awesome PLC deserves its name.

No one likes a bragger and we all know lies will come back to bite us. This means your PR Director will be showing the world how good the CEO is at things they do already. For the sake of argument, this could include: coming up with creative ideas, copywriting, general knowledge, shopping and throwing together brightly-coloured yet non-clashing outfits. As we are a new corporation, we don’t yet have a big budget for this campaign. So, they spread the word by talking to the contacts they already have: their friends, family and work colleagues.

The CEO might not find their PR Director’s approach easy, as they think honesty is the best policy and don’t want their shareholders to be disappointed should they discover the shocking truth: they are not good at everything. They feel scared, to the point where they can feel the bile rising to their throat. Their tummy churns, flipping cartwheels. They would rather take cover and hide than put themselves out there. However, they take a leap of faith and follow their PR Director’s advice.

After a while, they realise that dazzling the world with their feats means the world need never know about those things the corporation has not yet mastered. Bit by bit, as the CEO exudes more confidence, the public learns that I Am Awesome PLC really does deserve its name and does not even notice the bits that aren’t quite in place yet. Those bits may never be ‘in place’, wherever that is and whatever that means and probably don’t matter, anyway.

Be kind and value yourself. Know what you are good at and celebrate it. Who cares that you are not good at everything? Everyone has unique skills to offer the world. Offer a huge smile and say ‘thank you’ when someone offers you a compliment. The next time someone asks you what you are good at, tell them. Take pride in it. If you are worried about sounding conceited, don’t. There are ways of articulating it so it doesn’t sound like bragging. Just give it a go.

A good way of steering clear of arrogance is by valuing others. It’s about giving as well as receiving. Thank you for reading my blog. It shows you have fabulous taste and are awesome, too.

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13 Comments on Believe the hype

  1. Honest Mum
    September 24, 2014 at 8:25 pm (6 years ago)

    Gorgeous post and I love the ending, you are so right about valuing yourself and I’m pretty American in my approach, I believe in doing your own PR and dreaming big (being as good a person as I can be foremost)… it’s not being big headed, it’s knowing your worth as you say and you must love and respect yourself!

    You write like a dream lady and it is a joy and privilege to get to know you via your blog! Thanks for linking up to #brilliantblogposts x

    • Leigh Kendall
      September 24, 2014 at 8:30 pm (6 years ago)

      You’re so right, we need to be the best we can be, which includes being a good person as well as celebrating our strengths.

      Thank you lovely, it’s been a real pleasure getting to know you too xxx

  2. Susanne Remic (@Ghostwritermumm)
    September 18, 2014 at 1:11 pm (6 years ago)

    You’re right. I generally only like compliments from my children or husband as I am suspicious about their authenticity! x x

    • Leigh Kendall
      September 18, 2014 at 5:42 pm (6 years ago)

      Ha! Aw, lovely lady we are so indoctrinated to not blow our own trumpets it can consequently make it difficult to accept a genuine compliment. I think you’re wonderful! xxx

  3. Tim
    September 18, 2014 at 11:48 am (6 years ago)

    Excellent post, Leigh, and all very true. I’ve come across similar ideas in my professional life over the years. Back when I started work (more years ago than I care to mention), a lot of the focus of training and development was on identifying personal weaknesses and improving them, whereas now the emphasis is more on maximising your strengths while being aware of your shortcomings. Why worry about the few things you’re bad at or not confident about when you can enjoy and build on things you’re good at and enjoy? And there’s definitely nothing wrong with acknowledging what you’re good at as long as you give as good as you get in return – arrogance is when someone tells everyone “how great am I?” without acknowledging that other people care just as great, but at different things.

    • Leigh Kendall
      September 18, 2014 at 5:41 pm (6 years ago)

      Thank you, Tim! It seems so short-sighted to focus on people’s weaknesses. We are all good at some things and not so good at others – we need to celebrate that diversity, and the things we shine at doing. You’re right, there’s a difference between celebrating your achievements and arrogance – it’s humility. x

  4. Mummy Tries
    September 18, 2014 at 10:51 am (6 years ago)

    Fabulous post lovely lady! I say some of these things in my book actually. Being kind to ourselves and giving ourselves credit where it’s due is essential to our self-esteem. It’s unfortunate that us Brits don’t know how to take a compliment. I think the optimum would be being able to say thank you without getting embarrassed, but as you said that doesn’t happen very often xxx

    • Leigh Kendall
      September 18, 2014 at 5:38 pm (6 years ago)

      Thank you! You’re so right, acknowledging what we’re good at is vital for our self-esteem. We need to get better at being proud of ourselves xxx

  5. Laurence
    May 25, 2014 at 7:01 am (6 years ago)

    Appreciating the commitment you put into your website and in depth information you present.
    It’s good to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same unwanted
    rehashed material. Great read! I’ve saved your site and I’m including your RSS feeds
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  6. Jack Flacco
    May 6, 2013 at 7:24 pm (7 years ago)

    Awesome post. It’s amazing what positive words will do to a person. I know for a fact it really does work having worked with those less fortunate or from broken homes. They immediately light up when they figure out the words coming from a person’s mouth are genuine. It takes a while for some, yet most of the time, positive reinforcement works wonders on a person’s self-confidence.

    • Leigh Kendall
      May 6, 2013 at 8:31 pm (7 years ago)

      Thanks, Jack! Far too much time is spent on the negative aspect of one’s personality, but positivity can be so powerful and help people realise their potential. I’m delighted to hear you have experience of this working in practice – and it sounds like you’re doing great work.

  7. Michelle Payne-Gale
    May 4, 2013 at 3:27 pm (7 years ago)

    Awesome post, Leigh! And so true. Thanks for these tips, so important not to get caught up in self-sabotage. Ever notice how, both at school and in the workplace, we are encouraged to realise our weaknesses and to find ways to improve? Yet, there is so much less focus on embracing and developing the many strengths we already have?! Life’s too short to be spent dwelling on our shortcomings and fruitlessly indulging in all the stuff we truly suck at!

    • Leigh Kendall
      May 4, 2013 at 4:22 pm (7 years ago)

      Thank you and may I say you’re pretty awesome yourself, Michelle! While self-improvement is important, you’re quite right, there is too much focus on humility and not nearly enough on celebrating what we are good at. Diversity is what makes the world so interesting and we can’t all be good at everything!


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