Tall Poppy Syndrome (TPS)
is a term commonly used in Australia. It refers to the expectation that poppies should grow together. If one grows too tall, it gets cut down to size immediately.
In real life, what happens is humans are terrified to be seen or identified as a ‘Tall Poppy.’ So they overdo it in the humility department and try to appear to be as humble and self-deprecating as possible. Sadly, excellence or superiority in a particular field somehow represents a rebuff to ideas of equality.
I bet you are wondering why on earth I am throwing such information at you. Well, I was a guest on a podcast in Australia, and after the interview, she asked me if I knew what Tall Poppy Syndrome is. I did not know.
However, I am very familiar with refrains like, ‘Thanks, it was nothing.’ ‘If I can do it, anyone can’. ‘What do you mean that is special? I’ve been doing that all my life.’
Plus, I bet you, too, are very familiar with these phrases.
And if we are really honest, most of us have said some form of these because we were taught early to stay humble and not call attention to ourselves.
Frankly, I was surprised Aussie men played this game. I have never met a man from North America or the rest of the world who didn’t stand tall about his (sometimes fictitious) abilities.
I can also attest that I have never met a woman from Canada (myself included), Europe, and Asia who didn’t downplay their talents and gifts. The only country I am aware of where women actively call out their skills, talents, gifts and abilities is the USA. And strangely, it is an ability most of the rest of us simultaneously admire and despise.
Yet, it doesn’t have to be that way
I think it is high time we stand up and recognize that what we carry in our DNA is special. Each one of us is brilliant with at least one exceptional talent. And just because WE CAN, does not mean EVERYONE else can too.
I think it is high time we shelve some of that damned fake modesty and proudly acknowledge our gifts.
Our success does not come from what we do for a living, how much we get paid, or even what we create. Our success comes from our lived experience, our ability to impact our world, and our drive, focus and persistence to make it all better.
Each one of us contributes individually. Each one of us is worthy of admiration and compliments. We need to stop with the self-deprecation and change our behaviour —
- Accept the accolades – gracefully and graciously,
- Acknowledge our accomplishments, and
- Stand in and own our power.
High achievers can and should stand out in the fields of mediocrity. It took me several decades to learn how to drop the humility and simply graciously and gratefully accept. I learned a few things along the way. If you are interested, let me shorten your own path.
Don’t let Tall Poppy Syndrome get in the way of your success!