The Secret Power of Bragging
You honor the accomplishments of others while neglecting, even hiding your own.
Great leaders are great at honoring others. Honor multiplies success and motivates individuals. You’re constantly scouting-out behaviors, attitudes, and accomplishments to spotlight. Honor is one of your most powerful leadership tools.
We’d all respond positively when encouraged to get out there and honor others. Honoring our own success, however, feels foreign, awkward, even wrong.
If honor encourages others why wouldn’t it encourage you? Who celebrates your success with you?
Connect with someone and brag to each other. Don’t compete with each other, celebrate each other’s success. Jon Acuff calls it the “bragging table.” Jon gets together with a friend to enjoy bragging sessions.
Some may think a bragging buddy dangerously promotes arrogance. Acuff suggests a private “bragging table” is safe middle ground between arrogance and feeling ashamed of personal desires to share our accomplishments.
- Never publicly brag; it’s unattractive, arrogant, and off putting.
- Let others publicly honor you. Gracefully receive and appreciate any honor others extend to you.
- Honor everyone who contributes to your success.
Tell a bragging buddy the things you’ve done; the things you’re proud of. Wouldn’t it be great to have someone in your life that celebrates your success with you?
What if you found a bragging buddy? What if you called and asked each other:
- What did you accomplish this week?
- What opportunities came your way?
- What did you do that makes you proud to be you?
What are the pros and cons of having a bragging buddy? Is this something you would consider?
During my conversation with national bestselling author of “Quitters,” Jon Acuff, he told me he regularly enjoys breakfast with a friend. They call it the “bragging table.” They honor their opportunities and successes. This post was inspired by our chat.
Interesting. Sometimes I tell clients to give some credit to their hearts (who they are) so that they can keep their head the right size.
Contained in this mild admonition, are lessons from my own experiences with placing too much value on the thing, and not where it came from (the who) and its impact on others.
So my modest suggestion here is to try connecting the thing we’re bragging about with the value and impact of the “who(s)” that are in the picture. This keeps us grounded… and if we are having trouble making the connection? Well, perhaps we’re called to take a second look at that thing we were going to brag about? 🙂
During my conversation w/Jon we discussed how success can cause people to minimize relationships. We get all caught up in “the things” and forget or neglect the people.
Thanks, Dan… just catching up here… I hope that you are doing well. Personally, something about your writing here and overall style as we’ve interacted over the past year gave me gave me confidence that you would heal quickly, and be back in the thick of things in no time. 🙂
Dear Dan, this post will get me thinking!! It makes total sense but somewhat so far away from my culture!! I don’t think I am quite ready for this. There is a gratefulness exercise which goes like this: every night, you think of something you are grateful for today one about the Universe, one about someone else, one about yourself. I started with this. Maybe next level I bragging… Let’s see!!
I share your discomfort. As a Christian, the idea of “bragging” is typically taboo. However, I find the idea intriguing. I’ve personally wanted to share some of the exciting opportunities and successes that come my way but feel uncomfortable. Jon’s comments opened a door of possibility I find worthy of exploration.
Thanks for joining the conversation.
My wife has fulfilled this function for me through the years, and me for her. We use texts, e-mails and talk over the dinner table to share our wins with each other. I agree, Dan, that everyone needs the chance to honestly tell how good it made them feel to get something done, or be called on by the President, or be promoted, or whatever. It’s relationally dangerous to celebrate those things too much on the job, but in the context of your marriage (or with your mother) those things are always taken in the right way.
You point the way to a practical application of these ideas.
I agree it’s relationally dangerous to celebrate too much on the job. It’s not appropriate. It diverts us from a fundamental leadership orientation – leading is about others.
You always enrich the conversation.
I experienced this act of bragging with a close office colleague of mine but of a different department. We remained well wishers of each other and had shared the successes at frequent intervals. The positivity in our talks brought in an extra boost of energy to work well and contribute.
Wife as a bragging buddy is always there but that is again to a limited extent since she would not have much knowledge of the office environment and future opportunities She is more helpful in in difficult times by listening to the burn out feelings and suggesting solutions by thinking out-of-box or with a sixth sense.
I like the newness that you bring in your writings with good simplicity.
Hi Dr. Asher,
I love the inclusion that your office colleague is from a different department. That avoids competition.
Thanks for adding the practical benefit – boosted energy.
I call the bragging table any conversation I had with my Jewish mother. She and I wanted to share every bit of good news with one another and wildly cheer each other on. Now that she’s gone, I miss it. It’s great to have someone applaud your every career move. But I do the same with my closest friends and family.
I’m married to a Brit, and let me tell you — most of his family gets get very itchy if any hint of bragging enters the room. But I contend it helps people — children and adults reach higher with a well-placed “WOW” and an “attagirl” or 400 goes a long way.
You aren’t the first to hint at the cultural context of “bragging” or the reluctance to do it. In this case, I think its worth the effort to overcome our cultural orientation.
As a coach, I figure a big part of of my job is to help clients celebrate their successes. They’ve worked hard to achieve them, overcoming resistance,saboteurs, and obstacles on the way – both internal and external. I want them to brag to me. I draw it out and make sure they brag enough!
And then we create context and learning from it (as from everything). It’s one of the favorite parts of my job!
Your clients are fortunate to have you Jeanny. Cheers, Dan
Great article. The bible encourages us to “brag” on others, only it uses a different word – “bless”. Speaking words of blessing over others is a powerful tool that builds them up and also builds up the person who speaks the blessings.
I love this idea, thanks Dan! I feel like this is a fabulous happy medium! Let others tell you what they think you have accomplished, and then have a friend to discuss your accomplishments and theirs. This also helps you and the friend keep each other on track; being bragging buddies can be the same thing as motivational buddies.
Keep posting and stay positive through your recovery! Wishing you well.
I think bragging is the sign of fooling oneself. Why people brag because they show others that they are honourable or they have achieved something better than others. Honouring others is the sign of being powerful. It is the sign of humility and connectivity. When you honour or appreciate someone, it creates multiplier impact. It comes to you sooner or later in different form. Either you raise your self esteem feeling or others recognise your contribution publicly. I think, honouring is give and take policy. Others will do in the same way, as you do to others.
Self bragging is the sign of moral weakness. It is just like accusing yourself. When you really make effort and commitment, you should not expect from others to recognise your contribution. If it comes to you, accept it. I also strongly believe that braggers are backstabbers. They backstab others while bragging self. They have hidden intention to keep their interest at the top at any cost, even at the cost of others sacrifice.
I think this is excellent, Ajay.
I cannot think of a better way of fooling yourself than to make someone talk you up every week.
You’ll start believing it: very dangerous indeed.
Hi Ajay (and Linda),
I think that intent is important here. If the intent of the mutual sharing of successes and is to puff ourselves up above others, I would suggest that not only are we attempting the impossible (it is not possible to become more valuable than another human being), but we are artificially elevating the ego beyond other sensing and feeling parts of us—cutting it off from the support it requires to become transparent and healthy.
If on the other hand our intent with mutual success-sharing is to appreciate ourselves and others, from a heartfelt place, then our sharing can energize us and others, and we can go on to pursue other (hopefully heartfelt) desires with that energy enhancement.
Personally, I prefer to replace the term “bragging” with self-appreciation, and mutual appreciation, in any post in this thread that offers bragging as a positive strategy. The word bragging is fraught with negative connotations, and feels completely out of place to me in a healthy approach to any kind of communication or appreciation.
That said, I attempt to put myself in the shoes of the authors, and to me, the spirit of what they are writing suggests they are wanting to get to healthy self and mutual appreciation, and not the kind of ego-only chest-puffing stuff the word bragging brings to mind.
All the best,
1.What did you accomplish this week?
2.What opportunities came your way?
3.What did you do that makes you proud to be you?
The three questions you provide are good ones – I can see sitting around regularly with a trusted friend or peer and talking through them. It would be a gift, a respite, and a prod to continuing to seek progress. I’ll honestly say, though, that the more broad idea of having a “bragging buddy” would definitely feel awkward to me. As parents we certainly try to evoke children’s positive feelings and, essentially the answers to these three questions constantly — this makes me wonder what would happen if we made a way to ask ourselves the same thing as adults and try to facilitate opportunities for positive feedback. So often we wait until we have a problem to sit down with a trusted friend/peer and hash everything out.
This is such a good point. Proactive bragging…creating positive feedback all along so that there is plenty in the tank when the problems present themselves. You are right that we often don’t take stock at the right times, and the parent/child relationship offers a better example of how to do the professional celebration more regularly.
Hi Dan interesting post and concept. Short and simple the best person to brag to is yourself for it creates motivation and spirit and the best thing to brag about is helping others. What I do brag about to others is how I have learned from my mistakes to encourage them to do otherwise and remind myself of the lesson learned. Even in failure, bragging creates a moral boost and provides others the safe haven for their sincere and honest exposure of their misadventures. We don’t usually go around boasting about all the errors we have committed in life but imagine the size of the classroom if we all did. I recently read that 99.5% of our DNA is identical to each others. It appears we have a lot more to share then the infinitesimal speck which makes us unique. I say braggarts stand up, unite and cheer our “likeness” and our need to stay and be together. 🙂
Maybe if I could call it a “Bolster Buddy” I would feel better about it. I know my sister and I have been this for each other our entire lives. She is the first one I want to call when something great seems to be happening. She bolsters me and I bolster her.
I struggle SOOO much with this idea of “bragging.” Another way to say it is “self-promotion”, and as a writer, I am charged with doing that gracefully. Frankly, I suck at it. Agents are better for writers because they can brag for you, and it doesn’t come off with the wrong tone.
I am in business-building mode (with an employee of one) and I’m essentially supposed to positively brand myself and promote myself with that same positive slant. That is so much harder than I anticipated.
I value this blog, and the voices that engage with it, because I’m starting to see which building materials I really want to use.
I think that what Dan is talking about as “bragging” is different than self-promotion. I think it’s about acknowledging and celebrating successes, big and little.
I love the idea of having someone designated to do that with, someone who will really help us celebrate and reflect, who will share our victories as we share theirs. This isn’t about showing off or one-upping. If it is, it’s not a mutual relationship. It’s about saying, “Hey, something I worked hard on turned out really well.” Doing that in a constructive way with one person actually makes it so one doesn’t actually turn into “that person.” You know, the one who lets everyone know they’re God’s gift to the world and in case you forget it, they’ll be glad to remind you again.
Self-reflection is so important, and it’s as important to reflect on and celebrate what went well as it is to reflect on what didn’t go well.
I get what you are saying. I wish everyone could have a sounding board like my sister!
I agree, I don’t think Dan’s post intends for a direct connection with self-promotion and bragging. That’s why I clarified through which lens I was looking. Self-promotion is not an issue for people who are not their own boss for a company of one employee…but for me, they are one and the same. Self-promotion FEELS like bragging to me, and it is a tough road to navigate when I intend to inspire and lead people to change, but have the difficulty of necessary promotion of my work.
I recognize that the posts for this blog are geared for leaders of companies and corporations that potentially employ hundreds of people, but I identify with leaders…my form of leadership just happens to be at a keyboard. MMF
A bragging buddy is a good idea. It helps you keep yourself in perspective. An objective look at your successes is a good way to improve yourself.
I’m an ex-CEO who has done his share of bragging. Bragging became one of my most motivating leadership tools. Why you might ask? The answer is easy. I always used the word “We” and never “I”.
I laughed when this blog post showed up in my inbox because just the night before I was telling my mentor that promoting myself is such a difficult thing for me. Praising and recognizing others comes so easily to me but when people would recognize me, I would feel so uncomfortable. I always thought of sharing my successes as feeding my ego but really I should see it as celebrating good things with people I know and trust. Right after I read this, I messaged a friend and asked her to be my “bragging buddy.” I do think if someone takes on a bragging buddy that if feelings of jealousy start to emerge, that it should be openly communicated to keep the relationship healthy.
Bragging is only bragging when what you are bragging about you did… But to be confident in one’s abilities, to be thankful for one’s achievements, to be grateful for one’s endeavors is not bragging, it is simply letting the world know that you have been blessed and you are not ashamed to talk about it. Actually, if the truth be told, it was not you that did it, it was God, and so you are not bragging about you, you are bragging about God!!! Enjoy all the blessings…
Ajay was spot on. No more needs to be said.
I have a friend that reminds me of my successes. I tend to get down on myself and my friend lifts me up. I stop in his office to chat and always get great ideas for marketing my business.
I am seeing on the web that the best way to optimize your blog is to mention others and build them up. I see in other sites where that strategy is taking hold and a community is built.
But it is more than a strategy, it is a spirit of encouragement that pays dividends. I need to be reminded of my successes, and I think having a cup of coffee with a dear friend and reviewing the month, and thinking about our successes is a great idea.