What were some of the key messages during your childhood years?

When I was growing up my father wanted me to “be a man” first and “a gentleman” second. Not much guidance beyond those key points. “Being a man” was largely defined through his WWII United States Marine Corps lenses (a toned-down version of Gunnery Sgt. Hartman from Full Metal Jacket).

My mother, on the other hand, wanted me to be a gentleman first and a gentle man second. Her view of gentleman covered the usual social graces, respectful behaviors, a better-than-average education, and a Christian worldview. Her perspective on me being a gentle man only came in conflict with my dad’s perspective on manhood at the point where I could get hurt. That happened often.

Somehow, through all of that, I grew up no more or less scarred than most of my generation. Yet, I was a little confused about anything that resembled self-promotion – men, gentlemen, or even gentle men NEVER stooped to such, well, ungentlemanly behavior. Ever.

I discovered over the years that this “ailment” was fairly common.

Being smart and working hard were “givens” where I grew up. Even though I could see some people getting a edge, or a boost, through what I understood as rank self-promotion, I found it hard to go there. It had a slimy feel to it.

I never found a cure. Those childhood messages were too strong and deeply imprinted. I did, however, find a successful treatment.

It begins with “showing up”. If you don’t show up there’s nothing more to say or do. The opportunity is over even before it starts. Listen closely and you’ll hear the swooshing sound as it passes you. This often involves stepping outside your comfort zone. The more you do it, the bigger your comfort zone gets, as does your repertoire of competencies.

The second part of the treatment is to “be nice”. Easy for a guy like me! Like a duck to water. Being nice means making friends, building relationships, listening to others… being a gentleman.

The third and final part of the treatment was so obvious I almost missed it: “don’t subtract, add” (today we’d call that “add value”). Make a difference in someone’s life. Help them out. Do them a favor with no expectation of a return. Enrich their lives. Contribute. Everybody wins!

Imagine my surprise when I recently saw a simple graphic by Jessica Hagy that embodied my treatment plan. 


For people like me (I know you’re out there!) here’s your treatment plan for self promotion-itis: show up, take up some space, contribute, befriend others, and take over!

How’s that for a little gentlemanly self promotion?

In Other Words…

“A noble leader answers not to the trumpet calls of self promotion, but to the hushed whispers of necessity.” ― Mollie Marti

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

“Try not to become a man of success. Rather become a man of value.” ― Albert Einstein

“Tell me what you pay attention to and I will tell you who you are.” ― José Ortega y Gasset

“Eighty percent of success is showing up.” ― Woody Allen

“My temperament is not inclined toward more self-promotion than is absolutely necessary for my professional well-being.” ― Robert Silverberg

In The Word…

“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” – Philippians 2:3