For the New Year – Respect Yourself First
Happy 2012! This year I’m committed to bringing you even more great content on the blog (I’ve got some really useful marketing tips and goal-setting help for you coming up this month). I’m kicking off the New Year with a post that I’ve been giddy about since November. Ted Coiné is a business leader with books, blogs and a Twitter following of more than 100,000 people. But, more than that, he’s a really nice guy. I first chatted with Ted on Twitter (even with 100,000 followers, he finds the time to reply, retweet and engage) and got the courage to ask him to contribute a post to my blog. I was delighted when he agreed and we arranged for him to be the first post of the New Year.
So, to get this year off on the right foot and to bring your business into 2012 with a BANG, follow this great advice from Ted.
For several months now, I’ve been working with a success coach. My goal is simple: I want to help more people. More specifically, I’ve noticed a thing or two about how business is radically changing from a 20th- to a 21st-Century framework, and I aspire to ease that transition for the benefit of workers and the leaders who (should) love them.
But this guest post is all about you, not me. It’s all about your personal development, not necessarily your leadership skills. So how does my success coach affect you in any way?
She busted me, that’s how. “Ted,” she said. “Self-deprecating is one thing, but I notice you frequently belittle yourself – that’s past humility; it’s counter-productive. It’s holding you back. You’ve got to stop.”
Ouch! But this is why I pay her.
She gave me some examples. One in particular should illustrate what she meant. I talk about the company I founded as “little.” I guess I do that so as not to come across as a blow-hard. I also talk about Coiné Language School as “little” because I work with a lot of enterprise leaders – folks whose annual budget makes my firm’s best year look like a rounding error.
Here’s the thing, though: that’s counter-productive language. I have a lot to be proud of with my school. We helped a lot of students – a whole lot, and in a life-altering way! We employed some of the most talented teachers in the Boston area and paid them much, much better than our competitors. We also treated them more respectfully than other employers. We spoiled our customers rotten. We helped make those businesses, our customers, more profitable. Oh, and we made some substantial profits ourselves. I guess I did pretty well for a guy who, a few years before, had been making $15 an hour part time.
There’s nothing “little” about any of this. So, according to my coach, I need to be more respectful of myself.
Which brings us to you: I’ll bet you need to be more respectful of yourself, just like me. Are you beating yourself up? Belittling yourself? Not giving yourself credit where credit is due? Are you a kick-ass parent, but because you’re “just” a stay-at-home mom or dad, you’re apologetic about your work? Cut it out! Are you “just” in an entry-level job, even though your resume qualifies you for upper management? Shut up – you’re employed! Right now, that’s something to be proud of. And chances are, your previous work experience makes you really, really good at what you’re doing now. There’s no “just” to being awesome at what you do, no matter how much that work pays or what position you occupy on an org chart.
Maybe you are “successful” by our culture’s stupidly-narrow standards, yet – like me – you’re still belittling yourself all the time. That’s enough!
Or perhaps you’re just starting your career. In school you studied all the great minds, solved the world’s problems with your peers and professors; had a phenomenal internship or two where you were really able to show your stuff. Now you find that hiring managers or prospective clients grossly undervalue your talents. We’ve all been there and it’s tough on all of us, though many folks seem to forget it just as soon as they ease into their thirties. Let your confidence be your armor. Protect yourself from outside and also, more importantly, from within!
I’m working hard to get over this flaw of self-disparagement, just as I worked hard to get over my “ums” and “ahhs” when I was new to speaking. It’s going to take a lot of effort, but at least I’m aware now of the problem. How about you? Are you kicking your own ass unnecessarily? Take it from me – no, take it from my coach: that isn’t cute and it isn’t productive. Let’s get over it. Together.
*Please Note: When it comes to my career, I should have a guy follow me around at all times with a sign: “Do not try this at home!” My career has been a lot like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. I wouldn’t wish 3/4 of it on my worst enemy. (Yes, I was just self-deprecating. I’m gonna leave it, though. As I said, this is a work in progress.)
A little more about me: I’m a business heretic. Happily-former CEO. Author & Speaker on 21st-Century Leadership. Visit my new blog. Follow me on Twitter. Say Hi – after all, isn’t that what “social” media is all about?