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Do you know of anyone who is afraid of talking about himself, afraid to blow his own horn? I am not referring to a narcissistic person who believes he is the ‘greatest thing since sliced bread’. I mean someone who is reluctant to let others know about his on-the-job or personal successes.

Talking about oneself tends to conjure up images of conceit, self-centredness, egotism and the likes. It’s especially difficult when so many of us have been conditioned to believe that it is wrong to call attention to ourselves. On the contrary, it’s when we don’t, that opportunities pass us by. A chance for promotion eludes us because we believe the boss already knows what we can do.

I remember in elementary school if someone started talking about himself and how great he was, we would tell him that "self-praise is no recommendation". That expression taught us to wait for others to shower us with praise; to wait on others to give us permission to acknowledge our accomplishments.  We become adults and we find it difficult to acknowledge the role we played in the success of an event or a project.  We sit back and watch others claim our successes because we are too afraid to speak up. In fact, even when others commend us for a job well done, we become embarrassed and downplay our role by saying "it’s all a part of the job". 

Taking credit for your accomplishments, in or outside the workplace, is not bragging nor boasting.  It’s admitting to yourself that you played an important role just like the others on the team. If you don’t take the credit somebody else will.

Time and again I hear clients downplay their contributions because "it’s all a part of the job".  One gentleman told me recently that he had interviewed for an internal manager’s position last year with a leading telecommunications company in Toronto , and did not get the job.  When he asked for feedback, he was told that he did not sell himself as well as the other candidate.  In other words, he did not blow his horn loud enough.  When I asked him why he did not promote himself in the interview, he said the director knew him and knew what he could do. That, obviously, did not make a difference to the director when he made his final decision.

My client believed if he had called attention to his achievements he would have been labeled self-centred and egotistical.  He is scheduled to be interviewed for a similar position shortly, and I am sure he’s not going to repeat his mistake. 

Another client was the leader of a two-person team that invented a safety lock for windows, a product that his company sold exclusively to a major home renovations company.  When asked if his employer got a patent for the invention he said he did.  When asked if he got any recognition for the part he played, he said "No, because it was all a part of the job". When I told him it was a big deal and it was alright for him to say he was the lead inventor, his face glowed with pride. He did not claim his contribution because he felt it was all a part of the job. To him, it was no big deal because he works with widgets ‘all day long’, but to the company that invention continues to reap financial rewards.

I advise people – clients and others who will listen – that if they don’t blow their own horns, no one will know they are coming. It’s the candidate who knows how to blow her horn without being obnoxious is the one who will be recognized.

Since September is somewhat of a renewal time – back to school, back to work, back to unfinished goals – resolve today to get into the habit of claiming your successes.  You can begin with one recent achievement that you are especially proud of, and blow your horn.  Look at yourself in the mirror and say, "You did a great job and I am proud of you". Say it until you no longer feel guilty! This is a great preparation for performance review time. When the boss says, "Jane, what have you accomplished over the past year?" You’ll be able to confidently claim your successes without appearing conceited.


Copyright 2005 – Daisy Wright. All rights reserved. This article from The Wright Career Solution may be distributed or reproduced as long as the copyright and website,, are included.

This Entrepreneurship article was written by Daisy Wright, CDP BA on 9/22/2005

Daisy Wright is president of The Wright Career Solution, a company that focuses on
helping people gain clarity on what they want to achieve in their careers. Her
corporate work experience includes, among other things, a stint with the United
Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) in New York. She was a part-time
professor in the Faculty of Business at Sheridan College in Ontario, Canada, has
served on the board of a nonprofit organization and has been a mentor to many
individuals. She’s currently mentoring a 12-year old girl, and through the
Mentoring Partnership, an alliance of community agencies in the City of Toronto,
Peel who offer occupation specific mentoring to skilled immigrants, she’s a mentor
to a university professor new to Canada. Daisy is a qualified Career Development
Practitioner, and was recognized by Conestoga College as “A Graduate of Distinction”
for outstanding performance in the program. She has completed a course in
Electronic Tools & Techniques ! and one in eCoaching. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Ryerson University and has
authored several career-related articles. Some of her writings have appeared in
industry magazines, a college textbook and a career book on interviews. She’s
currently writing a job search book for new Canadians. Daisy is a founding member
and Advisor of Career Professionals of Canada, a member of ACP International, Career
Masters Institute, Parachute Associates, Professional Résumé Writers and Research
Association, and National Career Development Association. She was recently
appointed the Canadian Director for Women E-Commerce Association, International