In some roles, it’s easy to define your win. If you’re a sales rep, for example, or a runner.
In others, success is harder to measure. Just ask a pastor or a social worker. But in any job, what looks like success from the outside may not feel like success from the inside.
Think of your role models in your field. (I hope at least a couple come to mind easily). What have they done that makes them admirable to you?
The irony is that if you did those same things, you may not feel like any more of a rock star than you do right now. Or than you are right now! Even in the face of very compelling evidence that might convince others that you are excelling, your subjective experience is likely different than that on many days.
So here’s my challenge for you: specifically what evidence would it take to convince you that you are doing a great job? I wonder if that evidence began to stack up, would it be enough to shift your current belief about your own level of effectiveness?
Are you getting a sense that this isn’t a purely rational game we’re playing?
This hit home for me recently when a friend sent me a photo of an article in Real Simple magazine with my name in it. I’m not a big magazine reader, but if someone had told me in my 30s that I’d be featured in a Real Simple article, for something other than a before and after of my messy house and crazy schedule, I would have been both doubtful and delighted. It’s the only magazine I’ve ever subscribed to, and I’d still choose to pick it up when heading on vacation. Fast forward 20 years and here I am. One of my first thoughts? “Yes, but if it weren’t for that COVID dip in the spring, next month I would have hit my growth target I set for my business three years ago.” See how easily we discount our own success, and shift our metrics to suit the story we’re telling ourselves anyway?
So this is an invitation for all of us to be a bit more gracious with ourselves, but also more concrete. What would you need to see to convince yourself you’re on the right track?
When you see glimpses of that evidence, like the leaves just starting to turn in the fall, believe that the full rainbow of colour is on its way. Celebrate it. And surround yourself with others who will likely spot it before you do.
*In case you’re interested, here is the book that the Real Simple article comes from.