Why Are You Hedging Your Bets?

There’s a part in my workshops, when I’m helping people to define their personal brand, where I ask the question, “What are you great at?”

To clarify what I mean, I get attendees to think about themselves in relation to their team or co-workers and to single out the thing they know they do better than everyone else.

(I point out I’m not asking them to think they’re better than everyone else, full stop. I’m asking them what skill or strength they have where they beat others hands down – acknowledging there’ll be a different skill or strength that others beat them at.)

It’s not bragging

Regardless of their specific area of aptitude, do you know what pretty much everyone starts their reply with?

“I think I’m quite good at…[insert skill or strength here].”

To which I take great delight in asking, “Well, are you good at that or not?”

As facetious as that might sound, my question brings the person up short and they realise they need to quit or commit. By which I mean, they either need to say:

“You know, on second thoughts, I’m not actually that good at that.” (Which very, very rarely happens.)


“Yes, I am good at that.” (To which I get to reply, “Fantastic – so why are you hedging your bets?)

Ditch “I think” and “I’m quite”

I then get the person to say the same sentence again, but begin it instead with, “I’m good at…[skill or strength]” Or if I’m really pushing their personal brand envelope, “I’m great at…[skill or strength]”.

Despite their worries, people don’t laugh in their face. In fact, the usual response is, “That sounds perfectly OK to me.”

So how often are you hedging your bets? What do you downplay to the point that you’re doing yourself a disservice? And what’s happened when you have blown your trumpet a little harder?

There’s a comment box below just waiting to have your answer.

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2 responses to “Why Are You Hedging Your Bets?”

  1. Helen Wormald says:

    Hi Jennifer, Oh to be brave. The more you inspire others the more they will inspire others, how cool would it be to be a room of people who know what they are good at and happy to share their wisdom of how they got there. Being brave means sometimes getting it wrong, but its ok because its made you better.

    • Jennifer Holloway says:

      I definitely wish people would be braver – they’d be doing themselves so much more justice that is well-deserved.

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