Last year was the absolute worst, right? Hashtag dumpster fire, good riddance and all that. It’s a story we all want to close forever, right?

But what if it wasn’t all bad? What if (hushed tones) you actually had a good year in business or your personal life? 

Awkward, right? 

Well, it doesn’t have to be. 

There are ways to share good news without coming across as tone-deaf, insensitive or braggy. And they don’t just apply when the world’s going to hell. 

Here in the Maritimes, our self-deprecation and modesty culture can make us extremely uncomfortable with anything that feels self-promotional. And for us women who are encouraged to deflect compliments and play down our wins, it’s even more challenging. 

But you’re not doing anyone any favours by hiding your light.  Here are a few things to think about when you’ve got a success story to share. 

We need good news and stories. 

I’ll spare you the laundry list of depressing headlines. You’re living through it; you know what a stressful and disheartening time this is. And while every generation has its issues, we are in a unique moment as the second deadly wave of a global pandemic meets the violent and amoral end of a historically corrupt president’s administration.  

It’s heavy. And now, almost a year into COVID-19, it’s a real grind. 

In all this doom and gloom, we need signs of life. We need to shift our focus from the negative big-picture to individual stories of achievement. 

You can make people feel better because you are living proof that something good can come out of this challenging time. And your energy, your drive is infectious. It may even help inspire and motivate others. 

Go beyond what to why and how.

  • Did you have record sales last year? 
  • Launched a sizzling new project or product? 
  • Landed the client of your dreams? 
  • Enjoyed a new level of closeness to your family? 
  • Finally ran that marathon that’d been a long-standing fitness goal? 

That is awesome. Congratulations. 

Now go deeper. Why does this win or milestone matter to you, your company, your community? And how did you get there? 

Success is the culmination of all the decisions, the hard work, and the adversity you faced along the way. So show us the bumps, the bruises. Give us specific, telling details to bring them to life. 

Kate

What did you have to overcome to succeed? This is the crux of your story. The journey is where your meaning resides. Success is the culmination of all the decisions, the hard work, and the adversity you faced along the way. So show us the bumps, the bruises. Give us specific, telling details to bring them to life. 

Small wins are beautiful.  

Too many people think the only stories worth telling are epic in scope. The six-figure deal. That time you overcame life-threatening adversity. Or the founder who survived cancer and started the multimillion-dollar business of her dreams. 

It doesn’t need to be so grand. This year, just getting dressed in “hard pants,” as I saw someone hilariously refer to them on Twitter, is an achievement. 

So don’t diminish or discount the value of what you’ve accomplished by getting hung up on scope and scale.  

Modest success is worth celebrating, too. 

Share the kudos.

Even if you’re a business of one, your success relies at least in part and probably largely on others. So tell us about the people who were part of your achievement. 

Maybe it’s your team members who went the extra mile while home-schooling and working from the corner of their kitchen table. Perhaps it’s your Mom or Dad or partner or pal who encouraged you when your energy was flagging. Maybe it’s the client who took a chance or the collaborator who helped you make something fantastic.   

When you make it about the people, you invite emotional connection. 

Skip THE humble braG.

Social media is rife with humble bragging. You know, those superficially “aw, shucks” posts that use false modesty or complaint to draw our attention to how amazing someone’s life is. 

Not only is it transparent, but it’s also an ineffective form of self-presentation. A working paper published by a team at Harvard Business School found that humble-bragging backfires because it is seen as insincere.

A straight story, brimming with telling details, is the way to go. 

Keep adding chapters to your story.

Success is rarely one-and-done. It’s an unfolding story, an ongoing development. 

So don’t just put out one post or piece of content and stop. Keep building the narrative, showing us the ups and downs along the way. 

My challenge to you for this year is to write about your successes. Share them as often as you can. And celebrate the successes of others. Like, comment upon and share others’ good news–it’s infectious. And go ahead and comment below with your best success in 2020 so we can celebrate it together!