I am the greatest

ANNA TURNER
Last updated 11:25 25/01/2013

"I'm a talent scout, an entrepreneur, a motivational speaker, oh, and I model - runway, swimwear, couture,"  the young, bronzed woman said, smiling confidently at me.

"I pretty much do it all."

I was conversing with an American woman (living in Los Angeles, pursuing a bit of acting - probably porn) while on a cruise in the Bahamas.

Actually, conversing is probably the wrong word. She introduced herself and proceeded to bombard me with details of her supposedly super-fabulous life.

Once she was done talking at me, she took her rum punch in hand and moved on to the next unlucky target.

The woman was a stereotypical self-promoter.

I'm not one for blowing my own trumpet. My family make fun of me because any time someone pays me a compliment - even if it's deserved - I automatically play it down.

To me, it seems too much like bragging to talk of your successes. Surely, if you're really doing well at something, it will become apparent without having to tell everybody about it.

I think it's partly cultural. New Zealanders, in general, are a pretty low key bunch. We don't like to boast and are often accused of cutting down people who do dare to succeed. Other cultures don't have such qualms.

Gender also plays a role. I've read several articles recently about how men are better at promoting themselves than women. They're more likely to put themselves forward than woman for jobs - even if they're not as qualified for them.

Some suggest women shy away from being seen as arrogant or aggressive, while men are happy to play the alpha male.

Whatever the case, those who self-promote are often more successful than self-effacing people.  

(It's well documented males get paid more on average than females).

It may be a case of  "fake it till you make it" but, if you're constantly talking of how great you are, odds are someone will believe it and give you a shot.

Some of the most famous people in the world have achieved their glory not solely from their achievements, but because they convinced the world they were the best.

One of Muhammad Ali's most famous quotes was: "I am the greatest. I said that even before I knew I was."

Others are still trying to convince the world they're someone to be noticed - Sally Ridge, anyone?

I think that's what the difference between acceptable self-promotion and shallow self-adulation really comes down to.

Owning true achievement, like Ali did, is one thing.  

Creating dubious achievements to impress, like that woman in the Bahamas did, is quite another.

But what do you think? Do you self promote or shy away from it? Do you think it's a gender thing, a cultural thing, or a personal thing?

Comment below, email me at anna.turner@press.co.nz or follow me on Twitter.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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