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Monday
Feb112013

That line between being cocky and humble

Note: This post is a bit more personal and probably be boring to most people, but I just wanted to get my thoughts out.

Lately I've started to go on walks around the city by myself (usually in search of food, I admit) and have found that it's a really nice way to explore your thoughts. I usually have some music with me, which is also nice as I find that it helps guide my thoughts to different areas in my mind. Anyways, enough backstory, today I was just thinking about how to express what you think about yourself. In essence, the difference between show-boating and being humble. What is the right balance?

I personally believe that being humble is in general a good thing, and something one should strive to be. The problem however with being humble all the time is that there are cases when you want to boast about yourself. It doesn't take long to think about times when this is the case: when writing a resume, in an interview, and in other workspace settings where you want to bring visibility to your accomplishments. Outside of work it can be things such as first dates, gatherings where you don't know anyone, and other times where you want to be memorable/impress people. I feel that there is a very delicate balance, but it can be immediately obvious when you've crossed the line.

I don't feel that I am someone who is a push-over and know when to stand up for myself and when to boast. In general though, I do feel that I may be, not more humble, but more quiet about myself. The issue with this is that sometimes by not speaking up, you can sometimes convince yourself that sometimes you don't have as much to boast about. I admit that this is something that I've felt more lately. When I was younger, I was a bit more on the cocky side. University sure as hell beat that out of me.

I was thinking of times when I've actually boasted about myself in a non-joking manner. I can think of one, maybe two times. Both times I was trying to convince someone that I was better than someone else at something. Wasn't convincing either time, so clearly I shouldn't try that again! The thing to think about though, was that both of these times were during/after university, so I do sometimes wonder if I would have been more convincing when I was younger and more cocky. Interesting thing to think about.

I would say that while this being less cocky is a good thing, I feel that it may have gone a bit too much in the other direction. The issue is that this can, and I would say has, impacted my confidence. Sometimes you need a bit of a boost to remind yourself of who you are and what you've done. Recently for me was when I was talking with some of my co-workers and I mentioned that I often feel like the dumbest guy in the room and that one day someone will find out. He responded, in a half joking manner, "I've been here a long time, that feeling never goes away." First of all, it was nice to hear that other people get that feeling. Secondly, it made me sit down and try to think of all that I had learned and what I've done in my life until that point. I won't repeat it all here, but it was a nice reminder that I have accomplished things to be proud of.

So while this is all nice and good. What about when you have to tell other people? When it comes to resumes and interviews, I think I know where that line is. The only reason I even know this is because of practice. Co-op at university was a real help here. When it comes to bringing visibility to yourself in work, that's still something that I need to work on. My general rules here are to make sure I'm not lying, ensure the people that helped me accomplish things get accolades as well, and pretty much don't be a prick. So far I would say it's working, but I still don't have an intuition here.

Outside of work, I find that being able to laugh at yourself is a great skill to have. It's pretty interesting in that you try to play up the things that you've done badly on and it builds rapport with other people. It also is usually good at breaking awkwardness in conversations. I will admit though that this may not be the best course of action if you are trying to impress someone!

P.S. I know of people who will think that I am still incredibly cocky. Now I don't personally feel that I am, but maybe I do come across as that sometimes. Sorry for that.

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