5 Ways to Share your Achievements Without Bragging
Updated: Mar 14, 2021
In this ever-competitive world of jobs and promotions, it's so important to share your wins, successes, achievements and results to get a foot up in leadership. But female leaders are often reluctant to brag. Where's the line between owning your achievements and tooting your own horn too loudly?
A few years' back, I worked on an experienced marketer's CV. And when it came to "Achievements" - she'd left that space for information blank. Now, I knew for a fact that she'd worked on many different events and campaigns. So we had a conversation about what some of the results had been. And it turns out she hadn't tracked them - she had delivered, but never really looked at whether those events or campaigns had been successful.
But since then, working with different clients from different industries and countries, what I've noticed is that sometimes it's not that achievements aren't tracked, but that female leaders simply don't want to share them.
Knowing your own results and achievements is a crucial part to building a personal brand in the professional world.
But there's no point having your success stats as a leader if you then don't share them: in 1:1s; performance reviews; job and promotion applications; conversations with colleagues, friends and family; or, even online, if that's your jam.
Tall poppies cast long shadows
So what is holding these amazing women back?
Fear. Fear of being labelled as "bragging".
Culturally in Australia we have this very real undercurrent of "tall poppy syndrome". Which is - if you get too big for your boots or shine your light too bright and rise above everyone else, other people will cut you down.
And so we, and especially women, tend to downplay our achievements, pretend like they were nothing, or just not share them at all.
We don't want to stand out differently in the workplace for fear of spurring other people to jealousy and then not being liked, or even being seen as too demanding and forward (and then not being liked).
We believe we're in a meritocracy where good work should be automatically recognised without having to vouch for ourselves, and forget that crafting the perception others' have of us is one of the greatest gifts we are given in our professional lives.
What sits behind the fear of bragging is the fear of rejection, and it's a confidence block that is not only damaging your own progression and promotion, but your self-esteem, too.
When you don't track and own your results, you rob yourself of the pride and satisfaction and fulfilment of a job well-done.
And when you don't share your achievements, you rob yourself of the pleasure of having others recognise you, too.
Here are 5 ways to overcome the "They'll think I'm bragging" confidence block and share your achievements in an authentic way:
1. Ask yourself: What's my intention?
Where your sharing comes from internally is as important as what you share. Is your sharing coming from a place of wanting to belittle someone or make them jealous? Or is it a genuine acknowledgement and appreciation of an achievement that is your pleasure (and, in some cases, your duty!) to share? The energy you start from is the energy you convey, which is why so many of my clients and community enjoy hearing my stories of success - it genuinely comes from a place of wanting to inspire other women to dream big and make magic.
2. Treat yourself like a business
Here's the duty part. You wouldn't invest in a business that wasn't making a return. And your employer has invested in you, as an employee. You aren't paid to show up. You are paid to deliver the responsibilities and performance you were hired for. Results aren't everything - how you achieve is also important. But most of us are working in for-profit businesses and return-on-investment is critical to keeping those businesses afloat. So it's your duty to track your own results and share those with your leaders and team - to make visible how their investment in you is contributing to overall performance of the organisation.
An easy way to do this is to reflect and log achievements weekly or monthly (making it a breeze when review time rolls round), and keep an inbox folder of positive feedback you get (which can also brighten up a low day).
3. Make them measurable
This is kinda linked to #2 - making your achievements measurable which means showing a % increase or a cost decrease saving in $, or something else that has numbers attached to it. Having the measures can give you that little bit of evidence or confidence you need to stand behind your achievements, that might otherwise seem wishy-washy.
And it goes without saying - your achievements need to be true! Nothing will break trust with yourself and with others more than lying about what you've done. Here's where reframing can help - take the data and find the truthful wins to present.
4. Imagine the people who'll suffer from not hearing your success stories
We often talk about being "the change you wish to see in the world" (thanks, Mahatma Gandhi!). And we know how important it is for women, especially girls, to see role models to believe a path or success is possible for them, too.
I surround myself by articles, podcasts, e-newsletters, courses, and online programs of wildly successful people in career and entrepreneurship. And I'm human - often I find myself feeling jealous of their success. And pretty quickly, I'm just so damn inspired by what they've achieved, the jealousy melts away into a reignited belief that one day I'll do great things, too. Which brings us to...
5. Jealousy is the other person's problem, not yours
You can control a lot of things, but how a person feels is their choice, not yours. You have to be 100% responsible that you're genuine (see #1) and they have to be 100% responsible for how they react.
In coaching, we say: "The person who has the problem has the problem." Jealousy is often a reflection of how they feel about themselves, not how they feel about you. You just triggered their own wounds, and it's their responsibility to heal. And again - by sharing your successes, maybe that will give them permission to be more self-aware about achievements in their own life and feel confident to share their successes as well.
One of my favourite quotes is: "A rising tide lifts all boats". My hope for you is that the swell you make as own your achievements will inspire other women to own theirs, too.
Lata Hamilton is the Founder & CEO of Passion Pioneers, an Executive Coach, and Change Leadership Trainer. Sign up to her Change Inspiration mailing list here to get weekly goodies such as articles, templates, tools, videos and upcoming courses direct to your inbox.