"Instead of bragging about your personal achievements, find a way to spotlight someone else's work." - Jeffrey Kudisch, speaking on walking the fine line between confidence and arrogance during a job interview.
I recently mentioned in this newsletter that confidence, but not over confidence, is important to being able to perform your act. Several years ago I wrote about how your confidence affects your audience's enjoyment of your performance. They want you to succeed. If you are confident they will believe that you will succeed and relax so they enjoy what you do. Confidence is also important in your relationships with clients and other entertainers. People are attracted to those who are confident.
Arrogance pushes others away because they feel you think you are better than everybody else. Confidence causes people to relax, but arrogance puts them on edge because they feel they have to defend themselves. The biggest problem arrogance causes in variety arts is people who do not respect time limits. If they run over their allotted time somebody else has to shorten what they planned to do. People who do not respect time limits are saying they think what they do is more important than what anybody else could possibly do.
How does spotlighting somebody else demonstrate your confidence? It shows that you are secure enough in your achievements not to be threatened by those of others. It also demonstrates that you work well with others. (That was a quality that we were graded on when I was in elementary school.) It proves that you care about others and want to make them feel good, which are important qualities for success as an entertainer.
What you praise others for is actually an expression of what is important to you. For example, if you praise somebody for their commitment to continuing education you are saying that you think continuing your education is important. Your praise reveals to others who you are. Since it appears to be less self-serving the praise that you give others has more credibility than statements that you make about yourself.
It took me a while to learn the value of spotlighting others instead of bragging about my achievements when writing for variety arts magazines. One of my Laugh-Makers Magazine articles described my experience appearing in the 100th Tournament of Roses Parade. I got absolutely no feedback on that article. I later realized that was because while it was a thrilling experience to me, nobody else cared that I had been in the parade. They probably would never have the same opportunity. The articles that I have gotten the most positive feedback on have all been ones where I focused on other people. In my own reading I tend to quickly skim over the brag articles and carefully read those profiling somebody else. For example, I always read Patti "Dimples" Koopmans' World Clown Association Competition Director Column in Clowning Around because she ends by profiling one of the organization's members.
The best person of all to focus on is the reader or person speaking to you. After Greg Wood read my Creativity for Entertainers book trilogy he commented, "Volume Three convinced me that you were creative. The first two volumes convinced me that I am creative." That means I was more successful in writing the first two volumes.
When somebody comments on one of my performances, I frequently respond by talking about how good the audience was. That puts the spotlight on them, and I really mean it. The audience plays an important role in my interactive performance style. A great performance is always the result of a great audience.
How can you spotlight the work of somebody else? How can you focus on others when you write for a variety arts publication? How can you focus on the reader? When somebody speaks to you, how can you focus the spotlight back on them?