Do you spend a lot of time and energy thinking about the areas where you struggle? When you run into something that doesn’t come naturally to you, does it send you down a tailspin of self-criticism and worry?
As human beings, it’s normal for us to be good at some things and bad at others, and yet, when we run into our weaknesses in a professional setting, we seem to forget this. We often hold ourselves to very high, superhuman standards that we wouldn’t hold ourselves to in other situations.
So what gives?
Well, the workplace is a place where we’re expected to show excellence. From the pressure to construct the perfect shiny resume to the tendency to avoid any open discussion about our struggles and vulnerabilities, the professional world often tells us (in subtle and often unintentional ways) that our flaws might not be welcome.
Now, this isn’t to say that we shouldn’t be aiming to do our best work. It’s actually the very opposite – our best work comes about when we are ACCEPTING of the quirks and flaws that make us human. When we accept the entire package of who we are, both the good and the bad, this is when we begin to build GENUINE confidence. And genuine confidence is what gives us the fuel and the resilience to do our best work and overcome obstacles.
And so in embracing our weaknesses, we are actually helping ourselves become strong. Our humanity is defined by how unique and diverse we are as humans, and this uniqueness includes our good parts and our bad parts. As human beings, we are a little bit of everything, and denying the normalcy of our flaws keeps us in a state of perfectionistic fear that actually makes it harder for us to perform our best.
So what should you do about your struggles and weaknesses? For one, stop worrying about them or hiding from them. In doing so, you reinforce the story that these things make you ‘bad,’ and that they need to be hidden. In being open and gentle with yourself, you reinforce the much more empowering belief that you are inherently valuable just as you are, flaws and all.
And second, be mindful of the fact that the professional world hasn’t quite figured out how to balance compassionate dialogue about where we struggle with the need for top performance. I personally believe that these things go hand in hand, but it’s rare to see this idea in action in the professional world. So just start by accepting yourself inwardly, and reminding yourself that the working world isn’t always ‘real.’ It’s a place where everyone projects their ‘best selves,’ and this can skew our perception of what is and isn’t normal and acceptable.
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