The dilemma of self-promotion

Tonight, after posting the participant’s review of my workshop this morning, I see that there are no comments on the blog post and no “Likes” or comments on the Facebook post. My first thought is “people thought it was obnoxious.” Self-promotion can be a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t proposition. You want to win people over, but you risk turning them off in the process. I don’t know if I ever strike the right balance when it comes to talking about my accomplishments or promoting my work. Lately, I fear that some of my status updates have been boldface brags; e.g., “New blog post: Rave Review for my Vague Language Workshop http://bit.ly/zWrno” (tweet), “I’m happy that 24 people came to my workshop in Phoenix, five of them all the way from Yuma and four of them all the way from Tucson.” (tweet), and “New blog post: Speak & Spell II a Successful Workshop http://bit.ly/171bC9” (tweet), especially the fact that I shared my teacher evaluation scores. Ugh.

What may or may not be apparent is that I have felt shame and failure in my life, and there have been a few times I doubted I’d ever achieve anything. When I do manage to do something good, my feelings of past failure and inefficacy drive me to shout my achievements from the rooftops. “See! I’m not a complete failure! I DID something!”

Perhaps it is the fact that there have been so many times in my life when I have felt paralyzed into inaction. I’ve wanted to do many things that I didn’t do because I didn’t believe in myself. Now, when I finally do things that I’ve only been dreaming of doing for years, I feel… well… vindicated! Especially when other people didn’t believe in me, either. It’s like, “How do you like me now?!” Well, maybe not very much, I fear.

What good does it do to shove my success in the faces of people who doubted me? Are they really going to “like me now”? Or are they just going to resent me for rubbing it in their faces that I succeeded in spite of them? My fear is that they are going to resent me as much as I resent them. Resentment begets resentment. The thing to do is forgive everyone for everything, starting with myself.

Will I ever be good enough so that I can stop proving myself to people? Will it ever be enough just to be? Well, sure, but I’d still want to do something. There’s a time to be and a time to do. Maybe if I can master being, then I can be better with doing. Right now, doing is like, “Wow!” A miracle!” (Though, I wonder if that will ever change, for what are being and doing but miracles?)

Another consideration is there may be others who have done what I’ve done and not had the same level of success. Am I hurting them by touting my success? That is not my intention, but I fear it may be a consequence. Then again, there’s that whole thing about, “Who are you not to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?” I would like to think that when I let my own light shine, I give other people permission to do the same (re: Marianne Williamson’s book A Return to Love).

My best intentions, when I get past the neurotic ego stuff, are to promote the work for the good of others. The workshops I’m doing are designed to help interpreters become better at serving their clients and taking care of themselves. I would like to believe that the work is worth people’s time, and so I promote it so that people can benefit from it. And the truth is that I want to teach, and I can’t teach without students.

An actor cannot perform without an audience. The same is true of any artist or creator of any kind. We create what we do because of our creative impulse. There is nothing to be ashamed of about the creative impulse, and there is nothing wrong with admitting that I am a performer who needs an audience. Yes, I need to say something, and yes, I need you to listen. The tricky part is how to charm you into granting me an audience and then entertain you so you feel it was worth your time.

The best self-promotion is really not self-promotion; it is promotion of one’s work. It is a plea to “let me entertain you” so we can all “have a real good time” (to quote Sondheim). I may be ashamed of the way my ego gets in the way, but I’m working on seeing the greater good beyond myself. In my future promotions, I will be cognizant of the issues I’ve raised here and try to make my statements the kind that promote my work without building myself up or tearing anybody down.

Author: Daniel Greene

I facilitate communication between Deaf and hearing people, and I teach people American Sign Language (ASL) and interpreting. Apart from doing the work I love, my greatest joys are family & friends, entertainment, food, photography, and travel.

6 thoughts on “The dilemma of self-promotion”

  1. I was looking at your blog cuz I like it. πŸ™‚ You know, there are times when people’s updates are kind of overdone, and I think we all succumb to overshare-itis on occasion (I posted my breast exam results, which may in fact be TMI, but in my defense I was trying to reming women to get checked). But IMO things like facebook are all about sharing your happy moments — and your achievements are some of the happiest, right? I think it’s possible for your happiness to come across to some people as bragging, but I think only by those who haven’t taken the risks you have in order to earn those achievements. Perhaps people who have taken those risks and not been able to achieve the same level of success might feel slightly…I don’t know, envious? But I doubt they’d really be anything other than happy for you, because they know exactly what went into your achievement. But keep in mind that, well, for example, I have more than two hundred fb friends, and I just can’t get in there to comment on every post (or even catch them all, even the ones you are proudest of). And some people read them and just aren’t big on the commenting thing. And some people only have fb to play games. Some people follow twitter as a one-way thing (I have a twitter and check it for grins and giggles but I NEVER tweet myself). So I guess my point, in a roundabout way, is that just because nobody gave you any feedback doesn’t mean they weren’t proud of you (I izπŸ™‚ ) and even the few who are jealous are jealous of something real. You’re awesome. I have a hard time sometimes with the whole wanting recognition for my achievements, and I truly understand where you are coming from with the past and overcoming those feelings, believe me. But don’t forget that a well-lived life is the best revenge. πŸ™‚ You’re getting your revenge every day. I’m proud of ya, man. πŸ˜€

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  2. Daniel, face it; you are simply brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous. Do not apologize for that. By acknowleging the above, you are not a bad person. On the contrary; you are cool! You make me smile when I see your youtube videos. I would like to press the “like” button when I watch them.πŸ™‚

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  3. Well said Daniel. There are so many fine line, grey areas that we dance in all aspects of life. As usual you have given us all a deeper glimpse into who you are and your perspective of the world. Thanks for being so open. There are more people than you know learning from your leadership, experience and bravery to put your SELF out there. We are in a new age of communication. The words “facebook”, “blog”, “tweet” didn’t exist a few short years ago. With the flurry coming at us, we have to be selective. With this said, someone reading what may seem like a boastful post, must be genuinely interested in what is happening with you and your life. This, like any other media is a choice on the part of the reader. They are choosing to read your status or blog because they want to know where you are and what you are up to. Lending support in down times and celebrating with you in up times. Don’t stop, or even slow down. Carry the Daniel Greene flag proudly. If some don’t want to watch your parade, so be it. But others of us are watching you march, and cheering loudly.

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