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The Art of Self-Sabotage – or Why You Should Stop Playing Down Your Achievements And Successes.

Die Kunst sich selbst im Weg zu stehen oder warum Du aufhören solltest Deine Leistungen und Erfolge herunterzuspielen

What is the reason? Are some of us simply too quiet because the others are too loud? Or is it perhaps the other way round? Do some people only seem too loud because others are too quiet?

In a world that often pays the most attention to the loudest voices, the tendency to play down one's own successes may seem like an oasis of modesty. Driven by a desire to avoid being perceived as boastful, many people tend to minimise their achievements and accomplishments.

But this restraint can unintentionally have a negative impact on the perception of competence and authority. The question therefore arises: at what point does modesty become a problem?

Perhaps it helps if we realise that modesty in itself does not make a virtue. And not wanting to boast is not a competence in itself. After all, it is not only the case that some people boast too much, but it is just as problematic when others play down their successes and abilities excessively. It seems that both sides take the path of least resistance and do exactly what is easiest for them. Which is why both sides feel «authentic» in their own way in their respective roles. While in reality they are both wrong in different ways.

In an ideal world, people would neither exaggerate nor understate their achievements, but present them confidently. But what is self-confident is valued differently in both worlds, just as much as what comes across as modest. What one person does out of modesty quickly comes across to the other as insecure and incompetent. What the other does out of self-confidence quickly comes across as boastful and arrogant to some.

Finding this balance is a challenge. It requires a healthy dose of self-awareness because you have to resist a reflex in both cases, namely the reflex to hold back on the one hand and the reflex to play to the fore on the other.

And although this starting position may seem like a moral stalemate, the loser is ultimately the one who hides herself and his abilities under the guise of misunderstood modesty or who burns bridges through exaggerated self-confidence.

However, experience has shown that the person who has the most to lose is the one who plays down their successes and achievements. This reticence, for fear of being perceived as arrogant or complacent, can lead to valuable opportunities and recognition being missed. Ironically, brilliant minds have already achieved mastery in not only being forgotten, but downright evaporating.

Those who do not learn to present their achievements in the right light, risk being lost in the crowd and overshadowed by those who achieve less but talk about it more. There is a subtle but crucial difference between living modestly and keeping oneself unnecessarily small. The latter is a form of self-sabotage that inhibits one's own development in the long term and diminishes recognition from others.

And apart from that, it is already difficult enough to assess people fairly and objectively. If someone then starts to play down their own performance and undermine their own successes, this is no help – for anyone. On the contrary, it makes you complicit and part of the problem.



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