Do you feel comfortable tooting your own horn?


In our era of consumerism everything seems to be a matter of sale, including employment. Job hunters are often expected to “sell, sell and sell themselves” with self-confidence considered as one of the key selling points. 

As Broadside points out on her blog, you’ve got to have “the brass-knuckled self-confidence” or “fake successfully and project consistently… to meet the right people, say the right things, answer with the requisite ballsiness… Anyone modest or self-deprecating is quickly and easily trampled by the brazen, who will become your boss.” You are expected to be “chest-beating and telling everyone how amaaaaaaaaaazing you are.”

why do you fail at Job Interviews


I thought about that while scanning environment for interesting opportunities. Would I feel comfortable tooting — or blaring — my own horn?

Well, if I was desperate for a job to feed my children and that was the only way of getting a job, then yes, I would. I would act, I would toot, I would blare all the horns. Luckily, I’m not that desperate. I do have a choice and I choose intellectual humility.


What is ‘intellectual humility’ you may ask? The following definition provided by the  Thrive Center for Human Development appeals to me the most: “Intellectual humility has to do with understanding that you don’t know everything, that there is more to learn, that you don’t use your knowledge or expertise as a way to get advantage over others and that, in discussions with others, you are respectful, listening closely to what the other has to say in order to learn something.”


From ancient times intellectual humility has been seen as foundational to knowledge itself. Intellectual humility depends on recognizing that one should not claim more than one actually knows and acknowledges the vast areas of unknown. “To know, is to know that you know nothing”, in the words of Socrates (470-399BC)


Voltaire (1694 – 1778) – the most widely-read of the Enlightenment spokesmen – followed that tradition of intellectual humility: “The more we think, the more we realize that we know nothing.”


Einstein followed this ancient tradition with his famous formula of knowledge: “More the Knowledge Lesser the Ego, Lesser the Knowledge More the Ego”.


 Psychology provides an interesting insight into intellectual humility and its opposite – intellectual arrogance. According to psychological research, human beings are notoriously disposed to over-estimate their intellectual strengths and under-estimate their weaknesses; indeed, the evidence is clear that there is a strong tendency even to under-estimate our liability to such biases!

Some clinicians have argued that intellectual arrogance is necessary for maintaining mental health as the intellectually humble, who see themselves and their condition with unmitigated clarity, are more susceptible to forms of depression, for example.  Does that psychological ‘wiring’ however means that intellectual humility has no place in the workforce?


Intellectual humility is not only associated with deeper understanding and knowledge. According to the  Thrive Center for Human Development, evidence indicates correlations between intellectual humility and important morally salient traits such as a willingness to forgive others, a lack of aggression, and helpfulness. Moreover, psychologists have discovered traits and behaviors associated with intellectual humility that facilitate learning, personal growth, and social interaction.


Do you feel comfortable tooting your own horn?
Would you hire a tooting horn?


The power of storytelling in the world obsessed with data

“Stories tell us of what we already knew and forgot, and remind us of what we haven’t yet imagined.”

Anne Watson

From Emotive Storytelling

For thousands years telling stories has been one of our most fundamental communication methods. The rise of big data however shifted focus on metrics undercutting the power of storytelling and leaving off the agenda those things that can not be measured. Is storytelling a dying art form then?

To answer that question, lets have a deeper look at data-driven decision making. Decision making is lying across a broad spectrum. At one end of that spectrum are operational decisions, which are generally highly structured, routine, short-term oriented and increasingly embodied in sophisticated software applications. At the other end of the spectrum are strategic decisions. These are usually taken by high levels of management as they set the long-term directions and policies of a business, government or other organizations. They tend to be complex, and unstructured because of the uncertainty and risks that generally accompany longer term decisions. In between are many kinds of decisions, including non-routine ones in response to new or unforeseen circumstances beyond the scope of operational processes, and tactical decisions dealing with the necessary adjustments required to implement longer term strategies.

Given their structured nature, data analysis have long been applied to automate routine, day-to-day operational decisions, such as logistics and inventory management, personalized marketing offers and recommendations, and fraud detection in financial transactions. Beyond automated operational decisions, however, there are many situations where data alone might not be enough. As an example, strategic decisions aimed at shaping the future by setting the long term directions and policies of an organization, often cannot be ferreted out from the available data. In complex matters, what begins to matter more than mere data is the ability to place these facts in context and to deliver them with emotional impact. When dealing with complexity, “narrative imagining” or storytelling can become a powerful instrument of thought as well as a key communication tool.

As cognitive scientist Mark Turner points out, “most of our experiences, our knowledge and our thinking is organized as stories”. Narrative helps us make sense of a world that is rapidly changing as it can be focused on the next generation of change, not just an extrapolation of the present. Stories fuel innovation. They hold the power to transform listeners; to take listeners on a journey that changes how they think, feel or act. Stories can elicit emotional connections that make them a very powerful persuasion tool. Studies also show that we are wired to remember stories much more than mere data, facts, and figures. While mere numbers and graphs often kill a presentation’s soul turning into an insomnia relief for the listeners, stories have the power of transforming presented data into knowledge eagerly absorbed by the audience.

Not surprisingly,  legendary vizier‘s daughter Scheherazade has chosen the power of storytelling  in an effort to save the lives of thousands of women. After 1,001 nights, having been made a wiser and kinder man by Scheherazade and her 1,000 tales, the king not only spared her life, but made her his queen.

scheherazadeFrom Scheherazade 


A sense of curiosity…

“A sense of curiosity is nature’s original school of education.”

Smiley Blanton

From Stay passionately curious all your life

” Children are curious by nature. It begins the moment those little eyes open to this great big world. As babies they use their five senses to explore objects and we go crazy do our best to make sure nothing inappropriate makes its way into their mouths. As toddlers, more of the same except now they’re mobile and can wreck more havoc explore their environment with abundant curiosity. They can now ask “why” and they will do so over and over again.

Then…they become preschoolers and school aged and the questions are unrelenting. Though it can be exasperating at times, take comfort. Your child has a thirst for knowledge. One, that if we can continue to nurture, will serve them well throughout their lives.

So, what are some simple everyday things we can do to foster and encourage this passion for knowledge?

  • Turn everyday errands into an adventure. Seriously, all you have to do is call it an adventure and your kids will think it is too. Believe me the questions will come naturally so be prepared: “Does cantaloupe grow on trees?” “How does all this food get here and why do we need to buy it?” Oy…make sure you drink lots of coffee before this so-called adventure
  • Get outside, take a nature walk and let the questions fly! Get down on their level, take your time, and explore with them. They want to take that roly poly home? Okay, great. The snake…uh…no.
  • Write down their questions and investigate together. Whether it’s your trusty friend Google or a trip to the library, find the answers. I am constantly surprised by how much I don’t know. I’m learning or rather, re-learning so much.
  • Read, read, and read some more. I love books and I hope to instill this in my children too. Now as they are getting older, I will ask them questions about what might happen in a particular story. Their answers always surprise me and they get more creative each time.
  • Plant a garden together. It can be just about anything. A lone tomato plant, some herbs, or a flower of their choice. They will love to see what it takes to make it grow.
  • Let them be free. What I mean by this is, let them play independently. Let them explore without too many restrictions when feasible. Just avert your eyes, take a deep breath and let the mud fly. They can satisfy their curiosity on how vacuums work while helping you clean up….

Have a blast exploring the world with your curious child…it may just reignite your own passion for knowledge.”

From Nurturing Your Child’s Curiosity

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