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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.

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35 Responses to The Shocking Truth About Why You Suck: You Don’t!

  1. Thanks Jennifer for giving me this opportunity for “strutting” and sharing my thoughts.

    My vision is that all your readers get to see just how powerful and capable they are – and that they set the world alight.

    The world today needs more leaders – and where else to start than from exactly where we all are today?

    • Thank you, Arvind! We all start at the beginning and our progress is a big part of the fulfillment we experience. We focus so much solely on impact, when overcoming challenges by our own pluck, intellect and determination is equally important to how we feel about our work.

    • On
    • June 28, 2011 at 8:10 am
    • Sailaja
    • Said...

    Wonderful. Well written in simple terms. Thanks Arvind.

  2. Hi Jenn & Arvind,
    I loved this powerful and inspiring post Arvind. I’m feeling quite “pumped up” after reading it too.
    I’ve never had anyone tell me (at least to my face) that I suck at anything so, perhaps I’ve led a blessed life up until now. I do completely believe in the quote you shared from Gandhi. We are creating our reality with our thoughts 100 percent of the time. Reality is nothing more than mankind’s shared collective thoughts, in other words – we are all dreaming the same dream. We can and do become exactly what we believe in this life. Believe it and you will achieve it!

    • Angela, I am so glad that you are now “pumped” up after reading this post.

      Unlike you, I have had someone tell me more than once that I suck. And that’s when Gandhi intervened with his wisdom:-)

      Now that you are fired up, I look forward to reading even more of your inspiring articles.

    • On
    • June 28, 2011 at 8:40 am
    • Linda
    • Said...

    Hi Arvind–

    Love your outlook and enthusiasm for helping others. This may be a bit off-subject, but everything from your title (very clever and catchy) to your story reminded me of a comment that a psychotherapist made on another psychotherapist’s blog. He compared therapy and coaching, and was rather negative and derisive towards the coaches. I responded that many coaches are successful b/c they hustle, utilize creativity, market very well, and aren’t held back by the fear of failure in the way many therapists seem to be. In short, they don’t lack swagger….

    In the end, who really cares as long as you’re helping someone to get unstuck, and find their inner leader,and move forward, right?

    Hehe! I know a couple people with “unusual” intelligence who need some complimenting.

    Thanks for adding value to my day:).

    • Hi Linda,

      Great to connect with you here. Thanks for all your wonderful feedback. Like you, I particularly liked the catchy title:-)

      Coaching and therapy have been compared and contrasted for many years now – ever since “coaching” became an accepted profession.

      I am a bit biased, but coaches are certainly all of the things you mention above. Yes – we hustle, use our creativity and get out there with our marketing. If anything, fear of failure drives us on. And we have swagger!

      The simplest way I explain the difference between coaching and therapy is that coaching is all about moving forward, rather than looking back into our past and “fixing” something.

      As you say at the end of the day it’s about making a difference to our clients – quite often people who have tried everything else and now just want to move forward.

      Onwards and upwards..

      Linda, thanks again for your valued feedback.

  3. While I don’t feel like I “suck” there are times when, given my age, my peers look down on me. I do appreciate your message and agree completely that it starts with me, my feelings about myself and my own value and that I need to remind myself of these things daily. I also believe that it is important to remind others of their value and abilities. So far, I’m really good at this, but I have a great network. I have extended it to include you. Thank you for the inspirational message. I look forward to the next :-)

    Patricia Carrigan
    Author Antiserum

    • Patricia, I just checked out your blog and learned just how young you are!

      From your opening comment I half expected to find someone much older who thought they were “past it”.

      As you said, it all starts with you and your feelings about yourself and your value.

      YOU literally have a whole life ahead of you – and don’t ever let your peers look down on you. With all your zest and energy, you can do almost anything you put your mind to:-)

      And yes, do continue to remind others too of their value and their abilities. The world needs more young teachers and leaders like you.

      Good luck,Patricia.

  4. Arvind, congratulations on your guest post here! :)

    I like your emphasis on the fact that, once you realize your gifts + abilities are NEEDED, you can go forth with greater confidence.

    Amazing how one person’s confidence was gifted to you…and now you’ve gifted that ‘fire’ to others.

    • Caroline, thanks! I am only following the trailblazing path you set:-)

      What you picked up is key – this inner knowing and acceptance that we are valuable and that our gifts & abilities are needed.

      It’s almost criminal not to share our gifts with the world when there is so much good one can do.

      Caroline, good luck with spreading your own fire. You do some amazing work and I just know there is so much more to come from you.

      PS Is it really only about 20 hours since I discovered you and the inspirational work you do!?

  5. I think they need to teach this in schools – can you imagine how this would change things – if young kids really felt this deeply. Thanks Arvind a great reminder of how miraculous human beings – and indeed all beings – truly are :)

    • Davide, I am just imagining what the world would be like if children were instilled from a young age with high self-esteem and confidence.

      But then again perhaps we all do need to experience our own lessons as we go through life.

      And indeed, people are truly miraculous human beings, regardless of whether or not anyone around them thinks they suck.

    • On
    • June 28, 2011 at 9:41 am
    • Stacey
    • Said...

    At first, when I read your story of talking with a successful businessman just as you were grappling with feelings of self-worth, I thought you were lucky.

    But now I see it as great example of what Randy Pausch meant when he said, “Luck is where preparation meets opportunity.”

    You were willing to hear your new friend’s lesson and *act* on it – and that makes all the difference.

    The upshot for me is that we really do all have a unique story to share. We need to get over our “sucky” feelings because if they hold us back, our story doesn’t get heard, and that is a disservice to the people who *need* to hear it.

    Of course, it’s often quite challenging to communicate one’s gift in a way that others can hear it. But you’ve done an excellent job in this post. Thanks so much, Arvind!

    • Stacey, thanks for your considered feedback.

      It may be a cliche but “luck” is all about making it happen for yourself:-)

      What I have learnt is that we are offered lessons everyday, but it’s really about grasping the meaning of these lessons and then applying them in our daily life.

      We all have unique lives, with our own particular challenges and experiences. It’s up to us to rise above all else and let our light shine as best as we can.

      Of course, along the way we must try and enjoy the journey, hard as it may feel at times.

  6. OMG, Arvind. What a simple yet powerful message. I actually had this moment of realization when I read your story about the Irish man. I know I’ve learned this lesson before, but man, it clearly hadn’t sunk in 100%.

    They need you just as much as you need them (or even more!) I love that!!! Thank you Jennifer for publishing this.

    Hugs all around,

    • Melody, I am so glad that my message resonated with you.

      The people to whom we aspire to be of service and deliver some value to, need us just as much as we need them, if not more.

      This is actually a key life lesson which once applied opens up so many doors in our life.

      Happy manifesting, Melody:-)

    • On
    • June 28, 2011 at 3:36 pm
    • Larry Warrenfeltz
    • Said...

    I always say that optimists and pessimists are both right. They both get what they expect.

    • Larry, so true. You get what you expect.

      It’s when the pessimistic people around you try and dowse your own fire that it becomes a challenge.

      The trick is to be aware of your own strenghts and not to let the negativity of those around you get you down too.

    • On
    • June 28, 2011 at 6:04 pm
    • Georges
    • Said...

    Excellent article Arvind. My grandmother lived til the age of 101. When asked about the secret of her longevity, she always used to reply: ‘attitude’. It’s all about attitude.

    • Georges, thanks. Your grandmother has clearly passed on some of her values to you:-)

  7. I had similar experiences several times in my career when I realized that I knew as well as anyone else what needed to be done and how to do it. What my superiors really wanted was for me to handle it. So I did. No one will believe in us if we don’t believe in ourselves! Great article!

    • Galen, it’s only when we rise up to the plate and show others (and our selves) what we are capable of that we get to grow.

      Great that you took on the challenge again and again and handled it each time:-)

    • On
    • June 30, 2011 at 2:49 am
    • Kavit Haria
    • Said...

    Hey Arvind,

    What a powerful article. For me, it’s simple: if you’re adding value, you can NEVER suck. Each and every one of us is tremendously wise, spiritual and filled with a lot of ideas and knowledge that in one way or another can help someone else. If we’re helping someone else, there’s no way you can suck. Whether you help one person or one thousand persons, it doesn’t matter.

    And naturally – helping thousands of people is simply about finding a formula that works for one person and multiplying it 1,000 times with effective systems and procedures. Blogging, articles, books, etc are just an example.

    Arvind – YOU rock!


    • Kavit, thanks for your feedback and good to see you here.

      You are so right – if you are adding value, then you don’t suck! It’s so profoundly simple.

      You have also nicely summed up the principle behind spreading one’s work and message to a much wider audience. If it works for one person, then it can work for 1,000s. We just have to figure out a way of getting our work out to a much bigger and wider audience.

      Thanks Kavit for your kind endorsement. From the time I have known you, you are certainly someone who has always shared and spread their wisdom. Keep it up.

  8. Pingback: Link Love 7/1/11 | Cordelia Calls It Quits

    • On
    • July 1, 2011 at 2:35 pm
    • Matt R
    • Said...

    This is a powerful post. We all are worthy. We all have something to share to others. The problem comes when there are comparisons or a lack of recognition. When you know you’re doing your unique thing, whether or not a few or many people see that, then you should be proud.

    VALUE = DOING YOUR UNIQUE THING, NO MATTER HOW MANY PEOPLE ACKNOWLEDGE IT. As long as you do, that’s all that matters.

    • Matt, I love your definition of value – doing your unique thing no matter how many people acknowledge or indeed don’t acknowledge it.

      Reminds me of a quote from Marianne Williamson – something about following your heart and the maserati will show up when it’s supposed to:-)

      I know that one of my own challenges has been comparing myself with others and then feeling bad for having not having “achieved” as much as them. But now I know that in my own way, I am indeed adding value to so many people.

      Thanks Matt for your input.

  9. Arvind,
    I agree whole heartedly! Its hard for us to imagine that right now, as we are, we are already good enough and that our work in life is to share our uniqueness and talents for the good of others. One of my mentors said ” if it’s worth doing – its worth doing badly — JUST DO IT!” Get on with be helpful to the world by sharing you talents. We are sooo self-interested and ego-concerned as a culture, but we can decide to NOT be if we wish. Such a waste of energy, really…. :)

  10. “Leadership is an attitude and not tied to your corporate level. Or even your social status.”

    I really like that viewpoint. We can be leaders in all aspects of our life, even outside of our workplace. I love your positive attitude. It’s very contagious.

    • Well, I can’t take credit for this particular positive attitude (this is a guest post from Arvind Devalia), other than recognizing his ability to inspire and motivate, which he is really good at. He even got me to jump on a trampoline when we met in person–talk about contagious!

    • On
    • September 27, 2011 at 4:07 pm
    • Alma
    • Said...

    This article is on point with what I’m going through. I have to let my uniqueness out. Instead of hiding it.

    • On
    • September 27, 2011 at 4:11 pm
    • Alma
    • Said...

    Oh, and I think what makes this article interesting is that in reading the comments, I saw that Arvind wrote that he too, has experienced some sort self-doubt. That is what gives value to what he is saying.

    • On
    • April 11, 2012 at 5:32 am
    • Anil Machado
    • Said...

    This is a wonderful article. Good work. I am impressed