Like many lawyers, I grew up in a family where it was considered bad form to brag. I remember hearing my father (a math professor) speak disparagingly about businessmen and politicians. In his words, they were “operators”. He valued achievement and in particular, academic achievement. Success that derived from fast talking was “cheating”.
And so at an early age, I learned to temper my own bragging. Bragging was saved for indisputable accomplishment (a perfect score on an exam, first place in a competition, etc.)
As an adult, I’ve become much better at tooting my own horn. I’ve come to realize that there is nothing wrong with telling the world about your successes as long as you have earned them. In fact telling your clients, superiors, friends and family about what you have achieved is important on many levels. For starters, there are many far less deserving individuals who are only too happy to take credit. In addition, clients like to hear about your success because it reinforces the notion that they were right to hire you in the first place. Finally, the reactions you get can help reinforce your success to create more success.
When I found out that this blog had been selected for the ABA Journal Blawg 100, my initial reaction was: wow, that’s great. But did I really deserve to be selected? Then I realized that this was news that I needed to share. So I started telling friends and colleagues. As the congratulations poured in, I realized that I should get the word out more broadly. So I began to e-mail more of my professional contacts. I sent notices to my alumni journals and contacted several journalists. I realized that this news was too good to keep to myself.
Successes are a great excuse to communicate with your professional contacts (or your superiors.) Don’t be bashful about letting everyone know what you have accomplished and do not assume that they have already heard. People like to hear good news and sharing good news is a sure way to have your ego stroked. Did you get a good result for a client in or out of the courtroom? Let your colleagues at the firm know. Were you appointed to a high profile committee in or out of your firm? Contact your college and law school alumni publications. It may be bragging, but if you have done the work, you may as well get the credit and there are many times in life where we get no credit for our good work and deeds.