The Brag Flag

I want you to brag more. And I want to show you how bragging can be a force for positive good in the world.

Sometimes, when you’re hiking through difficult territory for the first time, you plant flags along the way. These aren’t just trophies designed to make you feel good about yourself. They’re also markers so that others can find their way more easily. They’re helpful.

When you talk about good things that you’ve done, that’s the key. Do it in a way that plants flags, that brings attention to things that deserve attention. If you donate to a charity, say so! Then you give not only your money, but your voice – you amplify awareness of that charity.

If we’re discussing status and awareness, there are sort of four categories of commentary: you can put yourself down; you can build yourself up; you can put someone else down; you can build someone else up. Here’s the secret: only do that last one.

Don’t talk about yourself at all, because you don’t need to. Every word you say is “talking about yourself” already because words are a reflection of the speaker. So you don’t ever need to say a word about yourself. Most of the time when we see off-putting “bragging,” we’re reacting to someone speaking too directly about themselves. “I’m the greatest person in the world because I donated to charity, and I donated more than anyone else!” Even though they did an objectively good thing, we scowl.

Compare: “My local food bank had a wonderful fundraiser this weekend and they raised more than double their goal! Congratulations to everyone that helped organize this event, your hard work and dedication are an inspiration to everyone. Kudos!”

If you read that, you’re more likely to smile than scowl. You elevated someone else, and you did it without putting anyone else down. But here’s the thing: you still bragged!

You bragged because anyone who reads that understands that you were a part of those fundraising efforts. They understand that you also did something good. But they also see that you spoke with humility, that you used your voice to amplify others, and that you inspired others to give without admonishing any who didn’t. You invited people in, rather than pushing them away.

That’s a flag for others to follow. If you can wrap your head around that as a force of good, then you’ll feel better about bragging. That will, in turn, motivate you to find more things to brag about. We are social creatures, and if the desire for social status can be harnessed to encourage us to noble deeds, then that’s a wonderful thing!

Plant your brag flag, and plant it high!

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