Conrad is an accomplished professional, a responsible family man and a respected member of society.
Lots of high-performing achievers show up at my doorstep for a myriad of personal development solutions. They believe that their challenges are work-related, other -people-related, money-related, or are brought by other causes.
I have found one common denominator: an undeveloped self-image. When Conrad first reached out to me for help, he was well aware that he was already an over-achiever yet he felt one challenge holding him back more than he was willing to let continue.
He has a high-stress job that involves lots of travel and time away from his young family. He makes a lot more money than he thought he would at his ripe age of 42 but he also knows that his family is quickly getting accustomed to his long and frequent absence.
Conrad is at a crossroads he must decide to navigate in the best possible way. There have been other opportunities that he could have explored but the universe seems to conspire against him.
Employment agencies, and head-hunters seek him out frequently. He definitely is well qualified for the open positions but it never quite goes beyond the interview stage and he is beginning to think that he is self-sabotaging in a way that he can’t quite put a finger on.
So, we re-enact an interview and there it is. We quickly go from a very comfortable conversation about the challenge to a rather sweaty question and answer session. He simply doesn’t take pressure in his personal interactions very well. How can this be when he already is in a high-stress job he is great at, he asks.
I smile with practised understanding. The stress related to his work is impersonal. It involves code-writing and getting computer systems to “talk” to each other. Rarely does he need to deal with people. At interviews, he is way out of his waters and his reactions do not position him well or support his goal of grabbing one of the attractive opportunities presented.
He feels like a caged animal and his animal instincts kick right in. He immediately goes on “flight mode”. You can imagine interviewing a fairly senior professional who seems to be looking for the nearest exit. He seems uneasy, shifty and hurried; certainly not the confident professional who would be an asset to any organisation. His impressive credentials and wealth of experience in the various multi-cultural environments simply do not help.
Conrad, like most people is not used to being in the spotlight.
While there, he is uncomfortable about highlighting his academic and professional accomplishments. Why, you might wonder. One word: conditioning.
In a nutshell, Conrad is wired to think that speaking in glowing terms about himself is tantamount to arrogance. He wants to be seen as a humble and teachable resource. Noble.
However, his socialisation is holding him back from opportunities. I hail his family, his religious subscription and the strict discipline instilled in him during his schooling.
He must allow himself the much-needed permission to embrace himself and project himself in the way that is sure to yield the outcomes he yearns in his life.
Mum, dad, his headmaster and whoever else do not lead his life. He does. He has got to chart his own way starting with his self-image. Conrad must begin to see and believe in himself as the intelligent, experienced, and successful sought-after resource that he is before he can project this to any interviewer if he is to land the opportunity of his dreams.
The opportunity that will allow him more time to grow with his young family while engaged in the work that he loves, adding value in alignment with his passion. Everyone without exception is entitled to this.
While we are on your rights, you’re entitled to be as humble as you want. However, if your understanding of humility stands in the way of your opportunities, you’re not humble.
You’re precariously bordering on ignorance. Get this, right. If others do not see you as happy, knowledgeable joyous and eager about your value, they take that as the very same way you will approach your work. Anyone wants to work with those who are proud to be who they are, which translates to them doing work that they themselves, and others, can be proud of.
Understand that pride is an accomplished sense of attachment to your strengths, abilities and achievements. It is self-appreciation. The law of appreciation decrees that what you appreciate, appreciates in value.
We have got to permit ourselves to acknowledge, believe in and appreciate ourselves enough to be comfortable while selling yourselves. If we don’t toot our own horns, no one else will.
The writer is an expert on attitude and human potential.