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Read more Cheryl Clemons



Stories we can all learn


Bragging and the empathy gap

Brag posts on social media are one of the

double-edged swords of modern life. We all

know someone who only shows us their best

life, shares a constant stream of achievements

or serially posts pictures of their award-winning


The sharer or 'self-promoter' may receive a

short-term motivation boost through the

articulation of their success and the immediate

reward of likes. Everyone else is likely to

experience a mix - to varying degrees - of

admiration, joy, envy, low self-esteem or


When asked, sharers generally overestimate

how much their audience will be happy for

them by a whopping 200%. Irene Scopelliti, a

senior marketing lecturer at Cass Business

School, puts this emotional miscalibration

down to the empathy gap.

Now I do think it's really important to share

success stories for a number of reasons, not

least because of the need to amplify voices

less heard, and for everyone to see 'people

like us' achieving goals that resonate. This can

often only be achieved if we go beyond our

close friends and family to a wider network.

It is perfectly reasonable to share

achievements as part of the mix of what makes

us who we are.

But, if we only see the output, success or

impact and we don't truly understand what it's

taken to get there, how truly inspiring is it? This

is equally important in the workplace.

Effort shock

In the brilliant article How 'The Karate Kid'

ruined the modern world, editor David Wong

blames humanity's demise on a classic film


Does this sound familiar? The main character

is bad at something but after a series of

impactful interventions and a short training

montage they become an expert. As David

says, "We have a vague idea in our head of

the 'price' of certain accomplishments, how

difficult it should be to get a degree, or

succeed at a job, or stay in shape, or raise a

kid, or build a house. And that vague idea is

almost always catastrophically wrong."

The result of this is 'effort shock', a feeling

we've probably all felt at some point in our




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