Yesterday, I was sitting at Sydney Airport, about to catch a plane to Brisbane. A well dressed man and woman sat down opposite me. Dressed in business attire, they looked like colleagues. It was 6pm, at the tail end of the day.
The woman said: “Well it’s been a successful few days Harry.”
The man replied: “Thank you for your involvement. I appreciate it.”
The woman (brushing aside his comment) said: “Oh I felt like a dead weight most of the time.”
I heard this and thought: “WTF?”
Admittedly, I have no idea about the back story on this. I don’t know how much the woman contributed to the “successful few days”. But I did know that the man thanked her for her involvement. And rather than say “You’re welcome” or take it as a compliment, she downplayed her contribution.
I wanted to grab her by the shoulders and shake her.
But it’s a reaction that I see among many people …
“Oh what a delicious cake.”
“Oh no, it’s way too dry.”
“That blog post you published last week was great.”
“Really? I thought it lacked something.”
There is nothing wrong with self-deprecation. But, sometimes, you need to accept credit where credit is due.
And it’s not just women. I spoke at an event recently about how to raise your profile. A man approached me later and told me that he didn’t like talking about his achievements because he felt that his mates would ridicule him.
Quite frankly, he needs to get some new mates.
The tall poppy syndrome certainly exists in Australia. But it’s time we just get over it.
If you’re a genuine person of integrity – and you know that in your heart – then own it, and be the tall poppy. I’m not saying that you should shout about how fantastic you are from every rooftop in your town. But if someone thanks you for your contribution, accept their thanks with grace – and even pride. If you’ve achieved a goal you’ve always dreamt of, don’t be afraid of sharing the news.
Sure, there may be those who will want to cut you down – and that’s probably because they are jealous of your success. Ignore them. But remember that there are always those who want to celebrate your success with you. The least you can do is let them.