A very successful, but more importantly, a very good writer recently bragged to me about how well his book is doing. And I’m glad he did.
But there’s a difference between bragging about cold hard facts, like the amount of 5-star reviews your book has got on Amazon, and saying something like ‘Wow, I’m such a good person,’ or, ‘I’m such a good writer.’
If someone tells you how many people have been to seen their show, or bought their album or given 5-star reviews of their book, you can’t argue with it. That is the hard evidence that what you did, or what you made, has been enjoyed by a lot of people. Which also means it’s probably benefitted a lot of people too.
However, if this good writer had’ve said, ‘I’m so good at what I do,’ that would be a different story. It’s true in my opinion, and probably in the minds of thousands and thousands of others, but labels are subjective. Facts however, are not.
This is something that’s not really done by Australians. Bragging about something you did well is not really a done thing in Australia. Which is bullshit.
We have what is known as ‘The Tall Poppy Syndrome’ in this country, a social stigma that says that when a person starts to be proud of their achievements and begins to rise above the pack, Australians tend to see them as becoming ‘wankers’ and it’s time to cut them down.
If someone is bragging about their accomplishments here, there’s kind of an unspoken rule that you should punctuate your bragging with some self-deprecation. Otherwise, you alienate yourself from the others.
‘Yeah, my single was #1 on iTunes for a day… but you know, it was probably because of a glitch on the site.’
‘My acting is going really well and I got this really cool part in this independent movie… but you know, if it doesn’t work out I can always go into porn!’
‘Our business is doing really well and we’ve even got interest from investors in the States… but maybe they just like our Aussie accents.’ (cue awkward laughter)
Kanye West has a massive picture of himself in his living room and he says ‘Well, I gotta cheer for me before anyone else can cheer for me’.
Someone like Kanye West would never be liked among Australians if he were an Aussie. Too big for his boots. He’s American though, so it’s cool that he’s the way he is.
It’s why, if you asked anyone to name the 5 most successful Australians, in any industry, people wouldn’t know what to say.
We’ve had 16 Nobel Prize winners since 1915 and I had no idea. We just don’t celebrate or laud these people. We think of sportspeople and pop singers. In Israel, people know, and are proud of, their Nobel Prize winners (of which they’ve had 12), their leaders of industry, their inventors. To a point where they expect nothing less. They say, ‘Of course they’re Isreali.’
Same thing goes for businesses. You ask anyone to name a succesful American brand, they’ll probably be able to tell you Apple, Google, Nike and more.
But ask anyone to name an Australian brand…..
Ugg Boots? Vegemite? Gross.
We have so many companies and entrepreneurs doing awesome stuff with awesome businesses but they are not celebrated here.
If you have done something you’re proud of, and people have bought it, or read it, or watched it, shout it from the rooftops. Brag and be proud.