Much has been written recently about the re-evaluation of work as we emerge from COVID. Many workers are going back to work but only with higher wages. Many workers have decided that they like working remotely and are seeking a position that supports it. Nearly everyone is re-evaluating what work means to them and how they want to do it moving forward. Businesses are just beginning to understand and adapt to what the new work environment looks like. It is likely that many will have blended environments. During this transition time, how do you position yourself to stay at your current employer or position yourself to be an attractive candidate for re-hire if you leave? While there are things you can do, there is also a common pitfall – not owning all of who we are and what we bring to the table. By owning it all, you present yourself as a complete candidate regardless of the path you choose. Here are some common things you can do.
When we don’t ‘own them all’, it hobbles us, like tying one hand behind our backs. This is especially true if our jobs depend upon our making judgment calls. Or, especially true when we need to promote ourselves for a new assignment or a new job. Not fully acknowledging ourselves for our accomplishments chips away at our self-esteem – we take jobs we can already do, we make safe decisions, we don’t stretch, and then we find ourselves underemployed and dissatisfied. There is an opportunity, in this work environment, to really stretch and get what we want. And we can’t let ourselves get in the way.
The first part is practical – update your resume. This should be both a document and a process. The document is the output but the process should assist and support in bringing all of your ‘worth’ to the table. People tend to undersell themselves when presenting their credentials for advancement, employment, and on a resume. This gets more complicated when we talk about our mistakes vs. our successes. Nearly everyone owns a mistake or a failure. But, if asked about their accomplishments, the answer gets more squishy. Many people own their accomplishments but not to the same level as their failures. You frequently hear ‘well, the results were really delivered by the team’, ‘the results didn’t necessarily happen just due to me’, and ‘the company supported me well, they deserve the credit’. In other words, people willingly owned their mistakes – but held their accomplishments and results at arms length – they were not ‘owning them all’.
So, why don’t we ‘own them all’? Owning all of our accomplishments may require a hard look at what we were taught growing up. Many of us were taught to accept full responsibility for our mistakes, but to be humble about our accomplishments. In my family, the phrase was ‘don’t toot your own horn’. If you did, you were labeled arrogant, too big for your britches, or even haughty. So, we learned to downplay our accomplishments – ‘aw shucks, twasn’t nothing’ became a pattern of behavior – both personally and professionally. Maybe that worked professionally when managers knew what all of their subordinates did, but times have changed. Today, fewer and fewer managers know the details of how work below them is done. So, we must be able to give a fair, balanced – and complete – view of our performance. That means that we have to ‘own them all’ – all of the accomplishments and results, just like we own our mistakes.
‘Owning them all’ takes new behaviors and practice – most people’s self-esteem is years behind where they are actually performing today. The first step is to catch up! Follow these steps to get started:
- Make a list of all of your accomplishments from the last 5 years.
- Think about how you feel about this accomplishment – this might be one feeling, multiple, or conflicting feelings. Integrating an accomplishment into your self-esteem is an emotional exercise, not a logical one, so let the feelings out.
- Stop apologizing for your accomplishments. When someone compliments you on results or an accomplishment, the correct response is ‘Thank-you’. All of the self-deprecating, diversionary words must be stopped – just say ‘thank-you’. Then, bask in the pride and sense of accomplishment! Let it completely soak in and build your confidence and your self-esteem.
- Feature these accomplishments in your resume – people are interested in what you have done. But to consider you for advancement or hiring into a new position, they care what results you have produced. They care about your accomplishments.
Changing your behaviors and fully acknowledging yourself for your accomplishments will support you. Abraham Maslow said, “What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself.” Let the change in awareness start with owning your full list of accomplishments. ‘Owning them all’ enables you to feel, to your soul, where you add unique value to a conversation, an assignment, a position, and to the table. Once you ‘own them all’, you’ll walk taller and stand straighter, have more confidence, and be able to risk more and achieve more. Lastly, you’ll be saying ‘yes, I have made mistakes and I have had successes – they are all mine and I bring them all to the table’.
As you move forward, don’t hesitate to call or write. We are here to listen, coach, and make recommendations to support you in reaching your goals.