This Post Isn’t Worth Your Time – Brave Now

Portrait of the artist as a typist I’ve spent a lot of my life being quite self-deprecating. “I haven’t done much” or “this isn’t really that big a deal” or “I have no idea why anyone would care.” To be utterly honest, it’s always been borne of two feelings: one, that it’s true, and two, that there are so many people out there tooting their own horn that I’ve always felt that the world needed someone to just kind of do their thing quietly and try not to crow too much when they do it. A lot of experiences in a row have really helped me come to see that you and I both have to stop with language that minimizes our intent and our capabilities. It’s time to be worthy.

Our Inner Critic Shouldn’t Ever Be Given the Mic

Look at this old blog post from 2004 about hiring an inner coach. I’ve been on to this for a long time. Essentially, your Inner Critic is real and serves a real purpose, but it’s also a voice that should be minimized. I feel that when we are self-deprecating in our actions, if we talk ourselves down to less-than-what-we-are, or seek forgiveness from others for our efforts, then we’re serving no one.

I was listening to a bunch of Marc Maron’s interviews with commedians on his famous WTF Podcast. In there, I was especially aware of Chris Elliott and how often he apologized or put himself down. Unlike any of the other comics I’d been listening to over the last handful of days, Elliott really put himself down a lot. Sometimes, you could tell he was joking. Other times, you couldn’t.

But the net effect of hearing it was that I left the interview thinking, “Well, maybe he isn’t all that interesting.” Because when I listened to the people who were even a hair more confident and who sounded like they were happy that they were doing the work, I felt happy and interested and excited.

Meaning: putting yourself down isn’t a victimless crime. It affects those people who hear you doing it.

It’s 90% Language, 10% Physical Posture, 100% Confidence

Oddly, a moment before I started writing this post, someone sent me a mopey tweet. My thought wasn’t that I wanted to comfort the person. I thought instead, “Who cares? Go do what matters. Stop wallowing.”

Most of what we do to put ourselves down comes in the form of our choice of language. We are quick to add “it’s nothing special” as a tag to our work. We’re fast to say, “Oh, anyone can do this.” I do it all the time. I could read you another 100 phrases. We also offer comparisons, “Oh, I’m no Chris Brogan or anything,” I’ve heard a ton, and wince every time.

We also do this in our posture. Walking with our eyes on the ground, or slumping away from people at parties, or pacing when we’re thinking of meeting someone we admire. There are a hundred (thousand?) “tells” that say to the other person, “I don’t find myself worthy.” Hint: if you push that feeling out there through your body language, people WILL pick it up.

Do NOT Swing the Pendulum

I’m not recommending that you become unnecessarily arrogant. I’m not saying that you must thump your chest and brag. Instead, I’m saying that it’s your duty to create and be and present yourself simply as you are, no better, no worse. I’m not advocating pride, but rather, I’m suggesting you can the put-downs and verbal deflation of your own work.

Be brave in who you are and what you’ve created. Let its value speak for itself. Worry, instead, about making sure those who can make use of what you create are aware that you’ve made it. (And be very aware that I said to help “those who can make use of what you create” and not just anyone who wanders along. Do you know why bad marketing looks like arrogance? Because it’s arrogant to tell everyone when only a select amount need to know.)

Set Your Measures Internally

Measure against yourself. Don’t share your results with others, because they haven’t asked, nor do they care. If you think something you’ve done isn’t good enough, either make the effort to improve it, or just do better next time. Don’t waste other people’s time telling them this detail. It’s your issue, not theirs.

From here on out, your bravery requires you to stop talking down about that which you produce. Instead, just focus on improving the quality of your work. Measure yourself (and only yourself) against the value of the work you create, and then against the achievement of goals you’ve set for yourself (never the intentions of others). Let no external system drive you as much as your internal measures. No gold medals, no ranks, nothing that comes from the perceptions of others.

You are worth your time. You are worth it. Your efforts are yours to judge, and yours alone. Nothing a boss or coworkers or anyone says will ever matter as much as your own perception of your work, and what it will indication needs improving.

Let’s agree on this together.

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  • http://www.ordinaryservant.com/ Pilar Arsenec

    Wow, this is a great post and definitely on time. I needed to hear this, thank you.

  • http://twitter.com/oldfox004 Vinaya Naidu

    As L’Oreal says ‘Because I’m worth it!’ Thanks Chris for a wonderful post…working towards this has been a long drawn effort now :-|

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  • http://www.kherize5.com Suzanne Vara

    Confidence – oh yes and yes again. Kinda like hello hello; it needs to be repeated. =-). True confidence allows us to brush off the negativity from the outside but also from the inside. When we are on the fence of being confident, we do listen and continue to listen to the critics. If we have that inner confidence instilled and really believe and trust it, we are able to shut out the I can’t, I suck, no one cares, etc. Too many times it is easier to seek the outside for that validation and gain that sense of an euphoric confidence but it never lasts as one thing will set us back because if we do not have it inside us, we cannot sustain that euphoric feeling.

    Taking it a bit further where you talk about shoulders down – Tony Robbins talks about that lil bit of where your chin goes down and how it is inches or is it centimeters (??) where when you chin goes down that little bit, lift it. I tried it and it does make a world of difference in your mood which relates back to confidence. Chin down, shoulders down – it exposes that insecurity whereas up you feel that confidence. Funny how when we are chin and shoulders up we feel the confidence but when they are down, we do not feel the insecurity as much as we feel the confidence when they are up. Hmh.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Isn’t it weird that the the CHIN can make such a difference? That our body leads our minds sometimes?

      • http://www.kherize5.com Suzanne Vara

        It is something so simple that we would never think of. The position of your chin changes your mood and also the perception ppl have of you. Powerful. On paper or via voice, it sounds so ridiculous but when you actually sit down and do it, it does make such a difference.

  • http://dissertationmonster.co.uk/ dissertations

    In practice, it comes with professional maturity which may take some time to develop. Granted, some have such a strong drive to achieve that they will overcome this earlier than others, but it may take some team members longer to get to this point.

  • http://twitter.com/nash_jen Jennifer Nash

    Definitely something I needed to hear today. So often you write what I need to hear when I need to hear it. Thanks.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      You’re welcome. That’s why I write it.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/smyleseh Stefan Myles

    I am not just self-deprecating. I often find myself, even in the midst of receiving a compliment or positive feedback, going out of my way to point out some minor fault or issue with something I’ve done. I need to, no, strike that. I am working on accepting myself and what I am able to do. When I do my best, I am the one who should be satisfied, even if it is not what others want. I think it is the only way to be genuine, and the only true way to find and connect with others who see what I see. I know deep inside that I will never meet anyone else’s expectations completely anyway, so I have to be happy in the knowledge that what I offer is 100% me, and trust that others will find what they need in what I do.

  • http://WWW.EXTRA-CASH-ONLINE.COM/ Robert Connor

    The older i get or the more i mature however you want to look at it, the more i realize i have to learn to use my own judgments and not those of others. Have to have a thick skin and not let what other people say cloud my judgment and goals for me. Kinda looking out for number 1 mentality. Doesn’t mean i can not listen and learn because that is important-just take things more with a grain of salt. Have a great day on purpose.

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  • Bob Walsh

    “Measure against yourself.” I love that. It also reminds me of something I once heard Warren Buffet talk about – the concept of the inner scorecard. He had a fancy way of saying it, but I loved it when he put it in this simple question:
    “Would you rather have everyone belief that you are the worlds greatest lover, but actually be the worlds worst lover, or would you rather have everyone believe you’re the worlds worst lover but actually be the worlds greatest lover?”
    Of course, it’s not that an extreme either / or choice – and many times, what the world beliefs about you does have implications on your performance. But not being distracted by external factors when they don’t really matter is an important part of being able to manage your resources. So thanks again for helping me to let that insight sink in a bit deeper :)

  • donna jackson

    absolutely!always feel my own validity is more important to me than checking with others.