By Charles Sasaki, Dean of Arts & Sciences, University of Hawai‘i – Kapi‘olani Community College
When I was younger, from time to time, something would happen that would cause my dad to spring off the couch to offer me yet another bit of unsolicited and generally unwanted advice. That advice ranged from just straight out bad (“better to have a major that you don’t like than to be undeclared” to moderately useful (“the deep end of the pool is better for beginners.”)
And there was some advice which simply mystified me. Dad’s new favorite was, “You gotta toot your own horn, cuz no one’s gonna toot it for you.” All of my cousins heard their parents offer lessons like, “speak only when spoken to” and seemingly every other Japanese kid was warned against drawing unnecessary attention to themselves.
No, not me. I got something about a horn tooting. Dad’s advice was so puzzling. But apparently he was worried because some kid at school took credit for one of my ideas and that made its way back to my parents.
As it turns out, the horn tooting was actually useful advice – not for band, but for other times! Dad was actually teaching me fundamental self-advocacy skills. Dad wanted me to speak up for myself, to be present, and to be heard. And the only way to be understood was to engage in dialogue. Though he’s been gone for many years, I’ve finally come to understand that sharing with people in a non-boastful way about the good work that you do helps them to recognize your hard work and understand your potential for growth. In school, it shows fellow students your capacity to lead and it shows professors that you care, are eager to engage, and interested in enhancing your base of knowledge. Outside of school, I’ve found that speaking up positions you for advancement, professional growth, and promotions.