Know Your Worth

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.



Author: Imraan Vagar

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  1. When you say “I’m damn good at the work I do!”, it’s not just what you say. It’s also how you say it. There’s an Afrikaans saying “Papier is geduldig” (Literally translated: Paper is tolerant.)

    You get people who use words as weapons. If they said that to me I’d probably have some snarky comeback like “I get it. You are … (Their name)” I won’t need a sarcasm sign either, they’ll get it.

    Since I know a little bit about you, and your work, why would I flinch? I think it’s great. Someone who is as competent as you at what s/he does has every right to say that, and be assertive and confident. Never apologize for what you do right and what you do well.

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    • Indeed! Thank you Henri.

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  2. I like this post, some brilliant reflections that more people would do well to consider and try to act on. I’m happy to stumble across your blog, we met a long time ago when we were both very young in Durban, you probably won’t remember, it’s such a pleasure to see you’ve enjoyed so much success in your life, and that you’re using that to help others with a reflective space like this. Wishing you well, Imraan.

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    • Stephen John Bradley? Of course I remember you! Is the email addy you submitted correct? I’d love to swap stories.

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