I am so proud of myself! I’m not sorry.

I was on a call with a client yesterday, and she was trying to tell me that she almost doubled her sales over quota last month.


But she didn’t just say, “I made 190% of quota last month!”


She stammered the following sentence fragments first:

  • “I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging, but…”
  • “I mean, I’m really good at what I do, but…”
  • “You know, it’s just the first month of my new job and all, but…”


I am her coach. I am the person to whom it is safe to say almost anything. Yet, she still felt the need to temper the news of her success.


Although this is the most recent example, my conversation with her is not at all unique or infrequent in my work with clients.


Are there gender norms, religious beliefs, and socio-economic forces at work here? Most likely, but that’s not what this post is about.


Part of being productive is the ability to recognize when you have done well! How are you going to repeat the good behaviors when you are scared to talk about them?


I am beyond proud of myself right now.


I was hired to participate in a documentary called, Dear {first_name}: A business case against digital pollution. The film was released on YouTube. It is amazing! It looks like a Netflix documentary.


A digital communication disruptor, BombBomb, engaged experts, salespeople, and executives to talk about the effects of unwanted emails. Please watch it! It illustrates a point I have been trying to make for the past 15 years – email is out of control.


Not only did they beautifully edit my contributions into the final documentary, but they also released a separate video of my interview – just me and my thoughts on the email problem.



Watching my full interview, I had to take deep breaths. I wanted to criticize my appearance – like really, really wanted to. In fact, it is hard NOT to outline my physical flaws as I write this post. This is yet another way we try to diminish our successes.




I was awesome. I was engaging, insightful, and I knew my stuff. I was a total rock star in this video. Yay, me!


What is this so hard, though???


Appreciative Inquiry


In a prior blog post, I mentioned an organizational development methodology called Appreciative Inquiry. I learned about it in the late ‘90s. To summarize and oversimplify the approach, you…


  1. Look for, value, and appreciate what works in your organization
  2. Envision the possibilities that can emerge from these best practices
  3. Innovate the organization by building on these good things


Contrast Appreciative Inquiry with the traditional problem-solving approach in organizations where you…


  1. Identify a flaw
  2. Analyze its causes
  3. Brainstorm solutions
  4. Implement a plan to fix it


Appreciative Inquiry is not mind blowing to you, I’m sure. Strengths-based development is huge right now. Gratitude is huge right now. Positive Psychology is huge right now. These are all wonderful approaches that remind us we are not simply “flaws in need of fixing.”


However, the fact that we humans need to be continually reminded that we are not sludge is annoying.


I completely agree with:

  • Continuous improvement…
  • Physician, heal thyself…
  • When you know better, do better…


But we must also give ourselves permission to say things like: “I am doing better!”, “I am fantastic!”, “I totally ROCKED that.”


And we can say those things to other people. Without caveats. Without apologies.


So, people, for the record, “I totally rocked this documentary.”


Check out my new training offerings! 

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Dr. Melissa GratiasMelissa Gratias (pronounced “Gracious”) used to think that productivity was a result of working long hours. And, she worked a lot of hours. Then, she learned that productivity is a skill set, not a personality trait. Now, Melissa is a productivity expert who coaches and trains other businesspeople to be more focused, balanced, and effective. She is a prolific writer and speaker who travels the world helping people change how they work and improve how they live. Contact her at getproductive@melissagratias.com or 912-417-2505. Sign up to receive her productivity tips via email.


  1. Seana Turner

    Congratulations on this awesome interview. You SHOULD be pleased with what you did, and proud of your accomplishment. I think there is a difference between celebrating an achievement and being haughty. It’s a line.

    I heard a similar talk once about calling ourselves experts. Just because we don’t know more than anyone on the planet on a topic doesn’t men we are not an expert. I agree this seems to be harder for women, but I agree that we will be energized to try new things if we can be thankful and pleased when we have reached our goals!

    • Melissa Gratias, Ph.D.

      Excellent tie-in, Seana. There are so many ways that our unrealistic standards can affect how we view (and talk about) ourselves.

  2. Lucy Kelly

    Way to go, Melissa! Appreciative Inquiry reminds me of something I heard and tried to remember when my kids were little: Catch them being good. Sometimes that wasn’t immediately easy, but it was such a good reminder to focus and build on strengths.

    • Melissa Gratias, Ph.D.

      Absolutely! Good leadership and good parenting result from similar mindsets.

  3. Sabrina Quairoli

    Congratulations on this interview. I will check it out. I am in awe of how confident you are.

    • Melissa Gratias, Ph.D.

      Thank you, Sabrina. If I blog about confidence, then I must be confident! Deep breath…deep breath…deep breath…

  4. Linda Samuels

    You ARE a Rock Star, Melissa! Congratulations on this amazing video and for sharing your heart and wisdom in such an authentic way. I also appreciate the inspiring way you modeled sharing your accomplishments.

    It reminds me of some advice my mom gave me when I was a kid. When I received a compliment, any compliment, I had a lot of trouble receiving it. I would make excuses and diminish it in some way. But my mom taught me that all you need to do is to say two words as graciously as possible… “Thank you.” The period is key. I think it relates to your ability to share your accomplishments. Being able to accept a compliment and share your wins in a straightforward, genuine way are essential life skills.

    • Melissa Gratias, Ph.D.

      Thank you…period! You mom sounds very wise.

  5. Diane N Quintana

    Wow! How wonderful for you! I love this term “appreciative inquiry”. As a former teacher I can totally relate to what Lucy Kelly said about catching her children being good. We always want to compliment behaviors that we want to see repeated. This expression reminds us to look at what is already successful and build on that. Thank you for this and KUDOs for this great interview.

    • Melissa Gratias, Ph.D.

      I appreciate you, Diane!

  6. Julie Bestry

    Many years (OK, almost two decades) ago at a NAPO conference, Judith Briles taught us, a room 99% full of women, to stop discounting praise and to learn to say, “Thank you for recognizing my magnificence.” I have never forgotten that. I think I need to learn more about the elements of appreciative inquiry, because I’m definitely inclined toward a “what’s broken, why, how can we fix it?” methodology. I tend to give little-to-no credence to what works. I’m hearing Don Draper’s voice from that famed Mad Men episode, “The Suitcase,” when Peggy berates him for never saying thank you for her advertising ideas and he shouts, “That’s what the money’s for!” Too often, we assume that what is good about us is supposed to be, and we give ourselves no praise for that. Bravo for this post and your documentary and the bonus video!

    I recognize your magnificence, Melissa!

  7. Karen Carawan

    That was a great little documentary and you were great! Human interaction is SO important and being able to convey that humanity through an email is key! Your emails are one of the few that I continue to enjoy receiving and reading. I will go and dig it out of my junk mail folder to read it! (algorithims, argh!)

    your articles feel like I am having a conversation with you – it feels very real. You have mastered that skill exceptionally well. I continue to find inspiration and a giggle or two when I receive your articles.

    Yep, you are awesome! and thanks for encouraging us to tell each other that!


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