There’s this harmless little game I like to play whenever I meet career professionals – that gives me great insight into their sense of self-worth and value in the workplace or their chosen field. I suppose I’m pushing their buttons a little when I do it, but the intention isn’t to annoy or taunt them. I prefer to think that I’m gently challenging them to perform a kind of mental ‘audit’ of their professional contribution.
Care to play the game with me?
Okay, I’ll start…
“I’m damn good at the work I do!”
You flinched just then didn’t you?
I’m willing to bet that my statement made you feel slightly uncomfortable. You thought that it sounded boastful, conceited and arrogant, yes?
Almost everybody I test that statement on has a similar reaction.
Isn’t that interesting?
Okay, so perhaps it’s an audacious thing to say, but I don’t think my remark is pompous or self-congratulatory. I’ve been in this business for enough years to know how the quality and output of my work compares. I don’t claim to be the best, but I am very good at what I do. I don’t feel entitled or irreplaceable. I’m not resting on my laurels either. I’ve worked very hard for all that I’ve achieved – and continue to grow and push myself. And I’m rather proud of that. Of course, I don’t go around blabbing it all the time, but I’m not uncomfortable with saying any of it either. And sometimes it warrants saying.
And yet, so many of us are uncomfortable with asserting ourselves – and asking for what we want or feel we deserve.
We’re programmed not to blow our own trumpets and laud our own achievements – and to some degree I understand the need for that sort of restraint and etiquette. But when it comes to work there’s a danger with this kind of forced modesty and renunciation.
How convenient it must be for companies and employers to have their hard-working, accomplished and dedicated staff voluntarily underplay their value, contribution and worth? Sounds like an environment that’s conducive to exploitation, oppression and imbalance to me.
I get that no-one likes a braggart, but there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging your strengths, skills and accomplishments – and reminding yourself of your value. Even if you don’t feel as comfortable about announcing it as I did at the beginning of this post, it’s important to keep the thought at the forefront of your mind.
Know your own worth.
That’s my wish for you.
And be wary of those who wish you otherwise.