When is it Stepping UP and when is it Showing Off?

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When you share your successes, people might misjudge you as arrogant, and you will face negative emotions such as jealousy and envy. To an extent we have generally accepted that when you have haters it means you are succeeding.

From a young age, our parents taught us to be humble.

Showing off is for the show-offs, not for us.

At least, that is what they made really clear. Of course, we should be proud of all our accomplishments. But ‘this is something you do for yourself,’ was our parents’ message.

So, for example, when someone asked about your school results, we didn’t tell them about our 8 straights A’s and how we got 100% in each of them. We just told them that we passed and are happy and can’t wait to get university. Out of loyalty and respect we obeyed what our parents taught us.

The rules changes when we get to the world of business and work. Suddenly winners are those who tell you that they got 8 straights A’s. Those who tell you that they have an MBA Cum Laude even before you asked them. You win accounts when you show off.

If you want people to hire you, or if they ask you to partner up or buy your products, you need to gain credibility first and prove them that you are the real deal (especially in the earliest days of your career).

This is why people create glossy business profiles, CVs, detailed LinkedIn accounts and portfolios of evidence. And they show their media appearances, ratings and reviews, YouTube videos, the number of facebook friends and twitter followers. We do, too. We share the news when we launch a new project. We tell the world when we accomplish something great. And we do not hide our faith in making our way to the top.

What is the fundamental difference between ‘showing off’ and ‘stepping up’? When you showcase your authentic value, people might think of you as arrogant. This might persuade you to hold back. But when you are on to something, you don’t want to hold back, right? What to do?

When is it ‘stepping up’ and when is it ‘showing off’?

For me the answer is: When your work is generous. When you are doing work that matters.

When your work is generous, you call it stepping up. When your work is selfish, you call it showing off. 

Generosity makes you happy. Happy people are more likely to be successful.

PS. No matter how generous your work is, some people will still judge it (and you) as selfish. When you make it great, jealousy and envy are inevitable. Don’t let that hold you back.



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