It’s Not About You

It is more annoying to watch local television these days with advertisements of government officials popping in between your TV news and favorite telenovelas. Sure, they call it “advocacy” even though you hardly get any meaningful or inspirational message that moves you to act. Instead, what comes to mind is this: “Oh, he/she is running in the 2016 elections.”

I don’t see why any self-respecting individual would want to flaunt his or her so-called accomplishments to the public when it is nothing but doing one’s job. It is as if they are not being paid to do it. Or it is something over and beyond their job description. Besides, it only makes you think they are doing what they are supposed to be doing in the first place so they get recognition and praise.

Nathan Hangen, co-founder of Beyond Blogging, said: “I’ve found it just doesn’t pay to crow too much about what I’ve accomplished. Sure, I celebrate when things go well. But I’ve found that talking too much about my achievements leads not only to criticism, but to disappointment.”

Because there’s always going to be someone who’s done more or worked harder.

Hangen differentiates self-promotion from self-adulation. He defines self-promotion as the “art of spreading ideas, concepts, and a greater vision” while self-adulation is “just the promotion of accomplishments, deeds that have already been done.”

Yes, Vice-President Jojo Binay and DILG Secretary Mar Roxas, enumerating how many schools and houses and water systems your offices (not even you personally) have built is kind of self-adulation. And it’s not as if you did them all by yourself. I’m sure you got a lot of help from many people.

When you promote ideas, you give people something to cheer for. If you communicate a clear vision, people will be drawn to support it and be inspired to support you. When it is a good vision it will make people feel good about themselves. But if it’s just a flaunting of your accomplishments, that will not make them feel good. If anything, it will just piss people off and make them think you are bragging.

And what is up with digging up your glory days and rags-to-riches story? You were top of your class decades ago, so what? You caught a big break to the top, so what does that got to do with anything?

We want to be inspired, not impressed, by you. We don’t care how special or outstanding you are. What we care about is your vision and how that can make our lives better. We want you to make us feel good about ourselves, about being part of this country, about being Filipinos. We want you to talk about us and what we can do to help realize a better Philippines.

Nobody wants to support and work with a self-interested, self-absorbed, self-serving self-promoter. So next time you spend millions of pesos on “advocacy” ads to dazzle us, just remember it’s not about you.

First appeared on Mindanao Times, May 28, 2015