27 September 2023

When bragging can come back to bite you

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Bruce Kasanoff* says a large dose of humility is sometimes required by those who know they have talent and expertise and are desperate to show it to the world.

Imagine meeting me at a social event, and the first words out of my mouth are

“I’m unbelievably good looking and smarter than everyone else in this room.”

How would you react?

Even if both statements were true (they aren’t), it would not be appropriate for me to utter them.

That’s the worst kind of bragging.

The other day, I launched a poll on LinkedIn that asked

What do you think of people who call themselves a thought leader, visionary or guru?

To keep things simple, I offered only two possible answers: They must be pretty smart. They must have a very big ego.

Some 3,222 people have answered so far, and 86 per cent said: They must have a very big ego.

I didn’t post this poll to be mean-spirited or critical.

My goal wasn’t to be negative.

To the contrary, my intention was to be helpful.

It is a noble endeavour to become an expert, especially if you use your expertise to help others.

It’s also completely understandable to describe your skills in a clear and compelling manner, so as to attract people who can benefit from your expertise.

However, there are certain words that become off-putting when a person uses them to describe him or herself.

These words include visionary, guru and thought leader.

If someone else chooses to describe you as a visionary, accept the compliment gracefully, but it is socially inappropriate to use such a word to describe yourself.

As evidence, I cite the fact that 86 per cent of the respondents to my poll had a negative reaction to that action; that is an overwhelming number.

As a ghostwriter, I attract two kinds of people.

The first group wishes to be of service, and they seek my help finding people and companies to serve.

The second group wants to be recognised widely as being smart, super-successful and far better than average.

I bet you can guess which group I most love to serve.

*Bruce Kasanoff is the founder of The Journey, a newsletter for positive, uplifting and accomplished professionals. He can be contacted at kasanoff.com.

This article first appeared at kasanoff.com.

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