Bright Ideas and True Confessions: How and What to Do and Why

The Dangers of Boasting
Ælflæd of Duckford

Consider these sentiments:

"In five years I'll be running the Society."
(by a newcomer)
"If I stepped back in right now I could take over."
(by an inactive peer)
"This is going to be the best [certain event] there's ever been."
(by an autocrat doing more talking than working)
"We're going to start a shire, and I'll be [baron or baroness] within two years."
(by someone in a very small town)

These are paraphrases of real brags. None came true. The reality of what did or did not happen was not in itself shameful, it's just that things would have seemed better without those big boasts.

Imagine two young fighters at practice every week. One begins every sentence with "When I'm knighted," and the other mentions, maybe once a month, "If I'm ever a knight. . ." All other things being equal, which would you prefer to see knighted?

Two dishes are set before you. One presenter says, "I'm the best cook in three kingdoms," and the other says "I did my best, I hope you like it." If the first dish is better than the second, it will be no big deal, right? If the second dish is better, what will you think of "the best cook in three kingdoms?"

Somewhere along the continuum, realistic thinking and self control turn into tact and then humility. Don't set yourself up for failure and embarrassment by declaring a goal or claiming a skill level which you may not live up to. If you really are good, people will tell you so. If others are to respond to you, let it be to bring you up, rather than to pull you down.

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