One of the things I don’t talk about much is my lack of... well, let’s call it bravado. That’s a nice enough word I suppose.
Pretty simply I don’t talk trash. I’m the guy that firmly believes that if you score a touchdown you hand the ball to the official, act like you’ve been there before and you plan on coming back again soon.
But what I’m learning as I begin to really break down some of my lack of professional success is that this can be a problem.
People ask me, “what do you do?”
“Oh, I work at the library.”
A long time ago, I got invited to an impromptu lunch with the then library director.
“What do you do Jim?”
“Oh, I work in Order Division.” (for all of 4 months)
“Yes, I know. But, what do you do?”
I don’t remember what I stammered out after that. I do, you know - stuff, I do my job. I earn my keep, but here’s the thing...
Even today, I just don’t think there’s anything all that remarkable about what I do.
“But Jim, think of the lives you’ve touched. Think of the impact you’ve had. 25 years is a long time. You don’t JUST work at the library.”
Or, I just took the easy road out and figured “Eh, I have a job. That’s good enough.”
“Jim you take difficult situations and turn them into learning opportunities.”
Really? Because I’m just trying to be helpful and keep things simple.
“Jim, you explain computers in a way that anyone could use one, and learn more about them.”
Really? Because I’m just teaching you the way I would want to be taught.
“Jim, think about the work you do with The MJB Foundation, the children and families you help.”
Okay, that’s something, but I also feel very selfish sometimes because in reality that’s just me keeping my daughter’s memory and spirit alive.
“Jim, you are a wonderful father, a terrific husband.”
Um, thanks I guess but as a father I’m just trying to keep things simple for my kids so they don’t hate their childhood, their teen years, so they’re prepared to go out into the world with values I think are important.
As a husband, I just try to remember that I married my best friend. Life happens and friends work through things to be better friends.
Last Sunday I went to an interview seminar / workshop and I learned unequivocally that the majority of my answers suck.
I had 2 watershed moments.
I talked about having once run my own kitchen table company doing end-user computer support for individuals.
Someone in the workshop said - “Don’t belittle that, (although Kitchen Table Company is kind of a buzzword right now more than anything) you’re an entrepreneur. Highlight that.”
Um, okay - But I feel like I kind of gave up on that, defeated by one customer who just wanted me to do it for her (sometimes the money is not worth it), plus the extra time away from home and Windows ME. (Not a pretty story, trust me.)
Okay, so those are some examples and I realize that my critics are spot on.
I do indeed suck at selling myself, at being confident. Some might say that while I’m confident in my work I still lack some level of self esteem.
So I posted something about that on my Facebook and Twitter status.
“Learning that while I know what I do, I don't sell it very well at all. This may not surprise everyone...”There were several responses, but these two particularly struck me:
You didn't used to sell it very well. Start today doing something different...
Now that u know what u weren't doing well- DO IT! Don't dwell on it just change it.
I’m trying. I promise I’m trying. I’m not dwelling. I am learning. I’m being proactive, i.e. attending workshops, hiring job coaches, things like that. I’ve put in 12 hour days every day this week and included some (building) confidence work if you will.
It’s not as easy as it sounds in those replies, but I know it’s not impossible.
Here’s hoping anyway...