“Simply the best” was one of Gordon Ramsay’s desert island discs.
He picked it because he said it was the song Glasgow Rangers ran out to, but given his towering self-opinion, it’s easy to imagine him singing a few bars to himself, eyes half-closed, as he sweats an onion or scorches another crème brulee.
The self-help industry is huge on selling useless books and courses helping people be their “best” selves.
Likewise, in a vast range of professional advice of the How To Get On In Life variety, there is no shortage of encouragement for people to sell themselves as the perfect candidate for jobs, relationships and even as their very own best friend.
But even if life has bestowed the equivalent of three Michelin stars on you, resist the temptation to let everyone know about it directly, for the following reasons:
It destroys your credibility
However accurate the words of self-praise that leave your mouth are, all people will hear is “boaster”.
And in many instances, it’s not for you to say whether you’re the best or not.
Muhammad Ali managed to get away with his “I am the greatest” schtick not because he was, but because he was so charming.
Kanye West’s “I am the number one human being in music,” though, tends to provoke more of a surly “I’ll be the judge of that,” than a “Yes you are, Kanye. Yes you are.”
It leads to distrust
Superlatives are generally asserted as fact, but often without supporting evidence. Currently hogging the bed where superlative usage is concerned is President Trump, a man who once described a building he had reinforced in New York as ““the stiffest building in the city.”
After a life in business making such assertions largely unchecked, the eagerness of reporters to now fact check his claims has made that mini-field one of the few growth areas in journalism.
“Somebody said…” is no longer working out for him as a reliable source.
It illustrates an embarrassing lack of self-awareness
People who like to associate themselves with superlatives usually limit their number one-ness to aspects of success, yet are unable to apply the same precise measurement to aspects of failure.
Football fans are a good example. When things are going badly it’s “YOU’RE f***ing useless *add any team here*.”
When things are going well, then it’s “WE”RE by far the greatest team, the world has ever seen.”
People think there’s something wrong with you
One of Saint Peacock’s favourite mantras is “The bigger the front, the bigger the back,” from Stephan Grosz’s superb book, The Examined Life. It means the more someone cranks up the emotion, the language and the indignation in the making of a point, the more likely there is that something other than principle is lurking in the background.
As Time magazine wrote of Donald Trump, “Contented people, well-grounded people, people at ease inside their skin, just don’t behave the way [he] does.”
This, after all is the person who said this during the 2016 presidential campaign, “I’m very highly educated. I know words, I know the best words. But there’s no better word than stupid.”
What’s the matter with him?