I am not sure why there is conflict between self-awareness and humbleness. The reality of it is that we receive conflicting messages all the time on these two areas: Stay humble = Put others first, don’t talk about yourself too much, do your work and you will be noticed (eventually). Self-awareness = Know yourself, know your weaknesses, think before you speak (or email), know what you bring to the table, etc. However, we refuse to say that self-awareness and staying humble can in fact show up in knowing and articulating your worth, speaking up for yourself and others, putting YOURSELF first because in doing so you are in fact better able to help others. Maybe we need to go back and understand the meaning of humbleness, especially in the workplace.
Dictionary.com defines humbleness as:
The quality or state of being modest and lacking in pride or arrogance: We need to teach a
different kind of leadership, one where humbleness is more important than confidence.
The quality or state of being or feeling low in rank, importance, status, worth, etc: We
observed the humbleness of the local homes, but also the hard-working ethic of the people
who lived in them.
Even these definitions give off the sense that humbleness = less than and less than somehow is a good thing. The first example shows how engrained this idea this is in our culture. When humbleness is more important than confidence, who is the one taking risks, who will pose the provocative ideas, who will move the needle forward with passion and vigor if that can be construed as the opposite of humbleness, arrogance? When did being confident become a bad thing?
So what can we do. In order to balance the scale between humbleness, self-awareness (including articulating your worth) and not coming across as arrogant, consider these:
So, how are you showing up today? I propose we start showing up confidently self-aware and mindfulinstead of humble.
You have been wronged. You know it. You feel it. You are angry. All very valid feelings. Now, what are you going to do about it? Life is full of ups and downs. Bad things happen. Things out of your control happen. Other’s perceptions may affect you negatively. For years……. And then, you need to move on. Here’s why:
One of my favorite workplace culture definitions comes from toolbox.com. This HR organization defines workplace culture as:
“……the cumulative effect that leadership practices, employee behavior, workplace amenities, and organizational policies create on a worker/internal stakeholder. It can be measured as either positive or negative work culture.”
I am sure you have heard this before “it’s important that you fit in.” Whether at work or on social circles, “fitting in” and being accepted seems to be the golden carrot. Yet we hear conflicting messages all the time! The current voices in diversity, inclusion and equity are shouting from the rooftops “be your authentic self!” And yet, you still hear whispers that maybe you are too boisterous, too direct, too quiet, too emotional, too much of “you” and not enough of someone that “fits into the culture” or better yet “represents the shared values of the organization.”
We all know this quote, usually attributed to Alexander Graham Bell, “when a door closes, another opens. But the full quote is much deeper than this:
“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so
regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has
opened for us.” (emphasis added)
You know you’ve done this. As much as you can think that you have moved on, sometimes you look back and think about the “what if.” What if I would have said it/done it differently. What if I would have gotten that job/opportunity/made that change. Here’s the thing. Once the door is closed the question is, “are you through the door or still standing in the same room?”. I want to propose to you that when a door closes we are facing it from the other side and we are staring at it instead of turning around and looking into what the future holds. You are not trapped. Its’s just that you are still not facing the right direction.
So why don’t we turn around? I would argue that the main reason is tied to those “what ifs” we long for. Think about it. Even if you get what you most want you still wonder what else could be out there. When you feel like the door has been slammed in your face you stare at it and go through an exercise of self-evaluation, maybe blame yourself or others, then go through the grieving process. All this while not turning around to see what’s ahead.
Here’s my suggestion, take a moment and breathe, then do think about your “what if.” But only stay here for a designated period of time. This time will vary based on how you feel. Do put a timer on it because this will be key in your ability to move forward. Once your “time out” has elapsed, turn around and see what’s ahead. Maybe that slammed door is a huge favor that gives you the closure (punt intended) to move away from that part of our life and into the next path. Windows are even better. A window opens lets you fly!!! So don’t think “well it was not a door but I’ll take the window.” In my experience when a window open your are being gifted the ability fly into a future that is brighter and better only if you stop staring at that door next to the window.
So, what door knob are you still trying to twist open? Time to let go and look around you. Greater things are meant for you than what’s behind that door.
When you think about it, most inter-relational events happen not in a vacuum but as the culmination of a series of smaller occurrences. A lot of the time the series of events happens almost imperceptibly. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
Who’s in your network? We have talked about those that influence, connect and support us. But are those folks in your network all from the same or similar background, same level and or the same company that you work for? Here’s the thing, you are not maximizing your network or its power if its comprised of the same type of people.
For example: Imagine if one day you decide that you want to become a consultant in your area of expertise. Who would you reach out to that has already paved some of the way, done the work to start up or has a clear line of sight at some of the hurdles? If you haven’t added people with entrepreneurial spirit and experience in your network then you will be starting from scratch. Now let's push this example a little further. Maybe you do not want to go the entrepreneurial route. Do you think you could benefit from the experiences of someone who has started a business or two, has developed his or her own product and is able to articulate value because that is what drives their business? When put into this context I am sure you are saying “of course!!!” yet I wonder (and you should too) have you built those relationships already?
I debated for a while on posting something about what’s going on in America these past couple of weeks. Here’s the thing: this is not news to me. This is the culmination of thousands of events that have now brought us to a tipping point. The question now is: where do we go from here?
Lead with compassion: Trust that you won’t ever really know another person’s experience but that your commitment to supporting each other through this shift is necessary.
Listen with a quiet mind so you can hear the words and the pain: You can’t have compassion if you don’t take the time to listen and learn. Not just to the cries of people of color suffering but to the cries of our white brothers and sisters trying to make sense of this. We all have a hand in why our country is suffering right now. We ALL have a duty to listen. We ALL have a duty to not blame or point fingers but to embrace each other, forgive and heal.
Here’s my point: We can all talk over each other and say our peace about what’s right and wrong but if we can’t be quiet, listen and know that people are coming from a place of truth, for them, based on their experiences, we will NEVER move on.
If you are a leader pay attention. People are watching and listening to what you say and do. That is a heavy weight to carry. But it’s yours so use your voice wisely, lead from a platform of compassion and be the first to shut up and listen. People will follow your lead.
So: How are you dealing with all of this?
It’s Saturday. What are you up to? I know, it’s still #quarantine2020 for a lot of us. Not a lot to do, see, experience…….Really? I wonder……I made a choice to invest in myself this weekend by taking a weekend long virtual conference on how to develop virtual events. I know!!! All weekend…on Zoom! I bet you are thinking, is it worth it since we are on Zoom/Skype/Virtual all week. My question to you is: are YOU WORTH IT????
Seriously. Taking time for self development should be one of the more energizing things you do. As we start getting back to the world, giving not just self care, but self development time to yourself is key to re-entering an event changing world. The key word is giving. This is a gift to yourself and its just as important that you give to you as it is to give to others.
So- What’s your self development for today? Are you trying something new? Taking a new risk? Learning something outside your comfort zone? Get to it people! no better time than the present.