Editor’s note: guest post by Arvind Devalia.
Okay, so feeling like you suck is something you’re not supposed to talk about, right?
You’re supposed to stay positive. You’re supposed to be confident. You’re supposed to sweep your insecurities under the rug, and forget they’re there.
But it’s hard.
You’re working twice as hard as everyone else, and yet it seems like you get half as much done. You’re twice as smart, and yet it seems like your ideas get half the attention. You’re twice as loyal to your company, and yet it seems like your boss doesn’t even know you exist half the time.
No one ever says you suck, no, but you’re starting to wonder if that’s what everyone thinks. And it really, really bothers you.So what do you do?
I felt like this a few years ago and it wasn’t a great place to be.
There I was, a cocky young man with the world seemingly at my feet and an exciting career ahead of me. And when I was passed over for promotion and a pay rise yet again, it really upset me. To put it mildly.
Luckily, around this time I had a chance meeting with an Irish entrepreneur in a bar that changed my outlook.
It turned out that he was a property tycoon visiting from Dublin. And for two hours, he shared some enthralling tales about his business life.
Indeed, he was my first ever “coach,” well before I knew of such a profession.
I told him how I felt undervalued and unappreciated at my workplace.
He looked me in the eye and said that he was going to share his story of how he started off in his business career. And if I chose to learn the lesson from his story, it could change my life. And it did.
He told me his story about how when he was starting off, he had to present his case to three senior bank managers for further funding for his property investment business.
He had been full of trepidation as his future business and indeed his livelihood depended on getting favourable funding.
As he sat in front of the three bank managers, he had a sudden realisation – THEY needed him and his business even more than he needed them!
This was a time of economic boom and banks were beginning to open up their coffers and willing to take more chances on up and coming businesses. After all, the bankers were greedy opportunists and they had clearly sensed an opportunity of a sound investment.
Immediately, in the Irishman’s mind, his whole game plan changed and he presented his business case with a lot of panache and confidence. In the end, he walked away with more funding and at better rates than he had hoped for.
The rest was history and on the back of the money he received after that meeting, he had gone on to create a very successful, multimillion pound business.
So my very first ever “coach” and mentor shared this life-changing lesson with me.
Never underestimate yourself and your ability
That evening, I walked home with an extra zip in my step and a new fire burning in me. That fire of self-belief has been there ever since.
Men often become what they believe themselves to be. If I believe I cannot do something, it makes me incapable of doing it. When I believe I can, I acquire the ability to do it even if I didn’t have it in the beginning.’ ~Mahatma Gandhi.
I believe in myself – and I truly also believe in you and your ability to do anything you want, if you want it badly enough.
No one has the right to tell you that you suck and you are not good enough.
The Irishman’s advice isn’t just applicable to entrepreneurs and business transactions, but your own life as well. Here’s how to make everyone (including yourself) see and appreciate your true value:
1. YOU are unique
You are unique and you have many wonderful qualities.
Now you may be thinking – who? Me?
Look back at your life, your heritage and your family background. Think about your education and all your special life experiences that have brought you to where you are today and made you the person you are.
To illustrate my point, look at where I have come from. Born in Kenya to Indian parents, I have lived in the UK most of my life.
My values and life philosophy have evolved from many different cultures, whilst my work life has taken me to an oil company, a bank and a Chinese food multinational. And oh, there was a stint of being a dot com paper millionaire.
I am truly unique – and so are you. And that uniqueness gives you a perspective that just can’t be found anywhere else. It’s why most of the hardest problems are solved by people outside the group originally struggling with them. It’s why diversity isn’t just a buzzword, but a key element in creativity and problem-solving.
Embrace your unique perspective and watch the admiration grow around you.
2. YOU are Smart
Sadly, most people rely on meaningless values like test scores and school grades to determine their own intelligence.
But those tests and courses only measure a very tiny fraction of the knowledge of the world.
Look at your hobbies and interests outside of your work – and you will see just how competent and capable you are already.
Can you blow a didgeridoo? Do you dance salsa or tango? Speak three languages fluently? Maybe you run marathons on the weekend? Can you walk into a room full of strangers and be the life and soul of the party?
Well, there you are! There are umpteen things you can do in your social and work life that no one else can–and those skills are no more or less valuable than the ability to do complex maths.
Worried you’ll be the only one with that perspective?
Try out a broader definition of intelligence by complimenting others on their demonstrations of “unusual” intelligence. Eventually those around you will do the same.
3. YOU already add value to everyone around you
Just by being you, you are adding something to the world.
Some people are very helpful and always kind. Others make you laugh and make your day lighter. And there’s the person who is always taking charge and making things happen.
Each person in your life adds something to those around them, whether it through their creativity, compassion or cheerfulness. It is in their nature to be like this.
In the same way, you too are bringing that little extra special-ness in the world.
4. YOU are just getting started
Can you see how you too can now set the world alight?
You may ask – where do I start?
Well, the place to start is from exactly where you are at now!
Before you contemplate handing in your resignation, begin to look for ways and means of adding even more value to all those around you–inside and outside of work.
Leadership is an attitude and not tied to your corporate level. Or even your social status.
But one also doesn’t become a leader in a day. Remember that the people you look up to were once where you are now.
What often distinguishes the leaders is a willingness to keep learning and growing, without devaluing who they are today.
So go ahead, breathe your fire and find your swagger. Strut your stuff. Shout from the gallows about how good you are and how good you are going to become.
More importantly, believe it.
Arvind Devalia is a coach, author and blogger who helps you make it happen in your life and in the world. Arvind struts his stuff here.