Self-promotion: Arrogance, Insecurity or Establishing Competence?

I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post that modeling humility can be challenging… what about positive self-promotion?  Is there a place for that?

Why do some of us feel it’s necessary to brag about our accomplishments? There are even books written about the ‘art’ of bragging… Are we simply establishing our competence? Or… is there more to it than that?

I’m no psychoanalyst (and I’m sure there’s more than a few who would argue that ‘establishing competence’ and ‘insecurity’ are related) but I do reflect on why I have bragged about something.  I know that I have recounted my school experiences, especially the difficult experiences, in hopes of connecting with struggling students. Is that bragging? I also wonder why some people I have known have bragged to students they teach about how smart they are, how well they take tests (I’m also guilty of that) or how well they ‘ranked’ in college or university. Do students need to be convinced of a teacher’s genius? Do they learn better if they believe their teacher is incredible? Should they know anything about the teacher, outside of the classroom?

Again, it goes back to my life maxim… balance.  Sure, it’s nice to connect with the students on a personal level (it can even help increase student learning by

lowering the affective filter) but there are limits.  Just as there are limits to bragging or self-promotion.  One runs the risk of putting oneself on a pedestal that can, in relative terms, devalue those who aren’t on that pedestal because they’re quieter about their accomplishments but just as competent. There’s a place for positive self-promotion when balanced with healthy doses of humility.


4 thoughts on “Self-promotion: Arrogance, Insecurity or Establishing Competence?

  1. Bridget Coles Pierson


    You have grown into a remarkable man. I would have expected no less.

    If you get a “Biddy Pierson” request on facebook, it’s me; a long, long way from Kenilworth (thankfully).

  2. sibi

    Good article. Nice to see that a picture from my blog article is given in your blog. I would appreciate if you give the link.


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