Thursday, September 26, 2019

Why We Downplay Our Strengths

I remain terrible at accepting complements.

I remain terrible at valuing the things I have successfully done.

My internal monologue often says “Well, yeah, but….”

If I did it…it couldn’t be that big of a deal.

Subtext: If I can do it, most anyone else can do it…better.

Most of the smartest people I know have some version of this monologue going through their head.

It’s a particularly insidious form of impostor syndrome.

It totally devalues TO MYSELF the things I have successfully done, any accomplishments I may have had, and evidence that I am capable of providing value to others.

I’ve been lucky the past couple of years. I am surrounded by highly accomplished friends who are familiar with these voices and recognize when it is happening with others. They are helping me realize that I am devaluing my strengths, my accomplishments, my experience – for no good reason.

They are helping me realize that there ARE things I do that not only come easy to me, but also can help others.

The struggle can be real, but we don’t need to struggle all the time to provide value and get things done.

It’s a lesson that requires significant reinforcement for this stubborn student.


HBR: Why Talented People Don’t Use Their Strengths (freemium article) – Whitney Johnson’s exploration into how we downplay what comes easily to us and the fears that come up when we are asked to play to our strengths when it feels like other things are more highly valued.

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