A New Use for an Old Cliché: Don’t Toot Your Own Horn
Translation in today’s language: Don’t flex on everyone.
Taken in that context, this is good advice. If all you do is talk about yourself and your accomplishments, you will eventually have to get used to the sound of your own voice because no one else will want to spend time with you.
The problem with this cliché comes into play when it is taken too literally. If you interpret this directive to mean that you should never tout your own accomplishments, you will neutralize your best advocate.
As an example, if you are interviewing for a job and you either cannot or will not talk about your unique traits and the value that you would bring to the organization, you are unlikely to get that job. Similarly, you will find that it is extremely difficult to win an argument or even persuade anyone to listen to your opinion if you refuse to cite your credentials to validate your expertise in the topic up for debate.
Your willingness to talk about your experiences, what you have learned from them, and the accomplishments that you have achieved as a result is a vital component of your ability to establish credibility with others and, eventually, to your ability to inspire their confidence and trust in you.
Talking about what you can do as opposed to what someone else cannot do is also a healthy way to strategize and problem solve when you collaborate with others. A discussion that centers on what you or others in the group can contribute creates a focus on what you can control and where you can exert positive influence.
Humility is a wonderful attribute and a great checkpoint between establishing credibility and bragging. Selectively highlighting your value at the appropriate times is healthy and it does not indicate a lack of modesty. Besides, no one else is more capable of representing you and your value than you. Your knowledge, experiences, and abilities are meant to be shared.
If you have taken the time to learn how to play the horn, play it at the right time and make beautiful music when you do. You will attract an audience and they may even ask for an encore!
Chief Executive Officer
Chicago Patrolmen’s Federal Credit Union