It ain’t bragging if you can back it up.

It ain’t bragging if you can back it up. – Dizzy Dean

A top member of the Gas House Gang, this guy could talk, but he backed it up.

As a top member of the Gas House Gang, this guy could talk, but he could back it up.

What does that mean?
As there is pride, there is also confidence. And with pride, there can be a good and useful version of confidence, as well as an unhelpful version.

In the case of this quote, the old term bragging is used to denote the less helpful version of confidence. Bragging is when a person talks about what they can do, rather than do it.

The quote states that if you can do it, and most especially when you do, it isn’t bragging. It is more a prediction, based on expectations and past performance.

In short, the quote is saying that if you can do it, you can talk about it. If not, keep your mouth shut. It is short and sweet, and easy to understand.

Why is limiting what you say to what you can do important?  
Besides avoiding embarrassment and possible fights, you mean? Well, there is also the damage to your reputation and character, if you become a habitual braggart. Bragging, which is when you can’t back up your words with actions to match, is a form of lying, mixed with an unhealthy amount of ego or pride.

Do you like being around people who say things, but don’t do them? Is it much fun to listen to someone lie about things? Is it fun to hang around them or do things with them? Do you want to be that person, or do you think it would be better to stick to talking about what you can do?

It doesn’t mean that every time you mention something, you have to immediately go out and do it. In the case of the quote, he was talking about the number of baseball games he and his brother would win over the course of a season. They beat the stated mark by almost 10%. That’s backing it up, right?

What it does mean is keep an eye on your mouth, and to not let it write checks you can’t cash, right? In short, don’t say stupid things, don’t make stuff up, and be sure you can do what you say you can do, because at some point, someone will request you prove that you can.

Where can I apply this in my life?
That would depend on how often you stretch the truth regarding what you are able to do, and how far you stretch it when you do. The less often you do it, and the less stretching you do, the less this quote applies to you. If you do it regularly, and really stretch it, you need to figure out why, and the quit it.

This is generally something I don’t have any issues with, as I am generally not talkative in nature. Short answers, not getting all that involved. I also have a tendency to hedge my bets, saying things like “I’ll try that, and I hope to manage to accomplish (something).” Not really bragging, eh?

One of the better ways to reduce bragging is to use the opposite, humility. If you can be humble, and not stretch the truth too far, it is far easier to keep from bragging. Self control helps as well. Sometimes that will mean a little less to drink, to prevent your mouth from getting you in trouble.

Perhaps taking your time, and considering more carefully what you are about to say will help. How often is a brag the result of a case of someone letting their mouth get ahead of their brain? It isn’t always the easiest thing to do, but if you can slow the pace of your interaction, you might buy yourself a little time. Reflect, then speak, right?

Sometimes you can use a fake brag in such a way as to be humorous. In High School, several of us were learning to play golf, and one of the older guys was bragging and complaining about his score. His score was far higher than he was saying, but I wanted to call attention to it in a funny manner.

I said I shot a 72. He said I was bragging, among other things. I replied that was on the back half of the course. It was also far closer to both of our scores than his bragging was. It got a laugh and I didn’t have to worry about being beat up. And in the process, I managed to make my point.

We’ve talked about the down side of the quote, when you say more than you can actually do. Now I would like you to consider the opposite. What can you do, and do really well? What could you say which would sound like a brag, but that you would easily be able to accomplish?

It doesn’t hurt to boast a little about your abilities, when they are appropriate to the conversation. Just be sure you can back up your words with deeds. Amaze and dazzle people with your abilities, not your empty words and lies.

From: Twitter, @BaseballQuotes1
confirmed at : second entry (from an interview before the ’34 season, when he predicted he and his brother would win 45 games – they won 49 games! – see
Photo by Bryce Edwards

Happy Birthday to Dizzy (Jay Hanna) Dean, born 16 January, 1910.

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