Actions Speak Louder Than Tweets

The small man gossips. The average man lets him. The great man stays silent and allows what is said of him to make him greater still.
— Stephen Mansfield

This story is a couple of months old.  I still think about it every once in a while. 

I was at a grand opening of a store in Philadelphia when I was offered a mimosa.  I turned it down, but for some reason it made me think.  I pulled out my phone and saw the date. 

Two days earlier was my 5 year sobriety anniversary.  I didn’t even remember.  This day used to be a big deal to me, but now it’s the same as any other day.  I didn’t write a Facebook status, I didn’t tweet.  I didn’t even tell anyone.  I texted my wife and asked her if I was right, or if I had forgotten the date.

A couple years ago this date might have meant a lot to me.  It was a signifier that I was holding steady on my path, and that my hard work had begun to take root.  It was the proof that leading a disciplined life led to a happy life.  .

Nowadays not so much.  I have already done the work, and I am just reaping the benefits.  The discipline and habits are not something I practice, they are a part of me.  Something like this is cool, but nothing to brag about.   The longer I remain sober the more I hate being congratulated for being sober.  This clip nails it on the head:

Now imagine if I had written some sappy, preachy Facebook status about “the hard road I’ve travelled” or some other platitude laden drivel.  I could have amassed a few hundred likes.  A dozen or so people would have commented “Congratulations!” or “#inspiring”.  What good would it have done me?

I would probably get a temporary confidence boost from all the praise, but that would not have lasted.  True confidence comes from action, not bragging.  My confidence should come from the 5 years of silent work, not the one day of public celebration.

I see far too many people bragging about minor accomplishments in attempt to seek praise.  Far too many signals of virtue, far too few acts of virtue.  This is not how you build confidence, and I don’t believe its how an adult should conduct themselves.  Confidence is slowly built by following the right course of action.  It is derived from right decisions.  Confidence comes from inside you, not from someone else.

I choose to live my life privately.  I do not believe your personal life is a marketing tool.  I believe the lessons you learn in silence can be and should be taught.  If you have a message you should spread it, if you can benefit others you should do it.   I do not believe in exploiting every moment of grief, struggle or success for attention.  You will not be judged by how many followers you have, you will be judged by how you live your life and treat those around you.   

You cannot rely on faint praise and “likes” to build your confidence.  These are quick fixes that temporarily balloon your ego but provide no real benefit.  Your confidence should come from your accomplishments and the hard work you put in every day.   

It’s very easy and very common for people to share nearly every minute of their day.  We have Facebook to tell the world how great we are, Instagram to show the world how great we are and twitter to summarize how great we are.  This is shallow and uninspiring. Our acts of kindness or the lessons we teach do not result in such quick praise, but their effects last much longer.  Are you chasing a quick ego fix or are you putting in the work to build true confidence?