Boasting like a boss

I was facilitating my Find your Flavour – Circling Leadership Training recently and something interesting occurred. I asked the participants to name their super power or what they thought they were good at. All of a sudden the atmosphere in the room went heavy and a lot of resistance emerged. It took quite some time being with the resistance – which was thick – and the underlying tenderness, until one by one, people started speaking up. And even then it was hesitant and it really took time for people to get into it.

This experience had me realise – again – that collectively we are shit at boasting, in other words owning our power and speaking highly of ourselves. We are somehow well versed in owning our flaws, but pretty bad in owning our shine.

My experience growing up Western Europe is that as soon as I boasted about myself when I was younger, it would be met with a “yeah, yeah you’re all that”, or “look who’s excited about herself” or something along those lines. I think I mentioned in a previous newsletter all the sayings we have in Dutch warning us about not being bigger, brighter or stronger than average.

I believe we have to learn how to boast: how to be full of ourselves in a good way and stop making ourselves smaller than we actually are.

And I am taken back to a memory of the man who planted this seed in me: my Shaolin Kungfu teacher Darryl, who is, as a proper Kungfu teacher should be, wholly Scottish. In the process of teaching us the high-level Shaolin arts he also proceeded to teach us all about the healing powers of good whisky.

Hence, one evening after a shared meal, the bottles of excellent whisky that Darryl had brought came to table. And with it a challenge. “I want you all to boast about something you are really good at – and only then will you get your next glass”. Suffice to say we started off really shit. “Uhm, I think I’m alright at..” “Wrong!” Darryl would shout with a big smile and slight puzzlement in his eyes (apparently Scots are really good at boasting), gearing us up to do better. “I am quite good at…” “Wrong!” Again. “I am good at..” “Wrong! Really own it!” and then I remember shouting “I am fucking awesome at connecting with people, being with them in their world, I have a huge heart and love massively!” (I confess I made that up just now because I cannot for the life of me remember what I said. I notice owning it still feels vulnerable).

“Yes!!” Darryl shouted, “That is a boast! Whisky earned” and the whole table roared approval. On to the next one. We got quite drunk that night, but I will never forget it. It was fucking excellent.

I learned something then: how freeing it is to fully own what I am good at, to essentially own who I am.

It was beautiful and liberating. It set me up differently and I started to become less afraid of owning my shine.

To this day it can still be scary to go there, but I am simply unwilling to and tired of keeping myself small and not owning my shine. Because only owning my flaws is not really owning my full self: it is a partial truth.

And I truly believe we owe the world to show up fully. Shine and all.


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Coach, trainer & lover of all things human and relational. Supporting you in finding a deeper connection to yourself & others, so you can truly lead, wherever you are.

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