On a recent episode of 30 Rock, it’s time for Tina Fey’s (aka Liz Lemon’s) high school reunion. Like many of us, she doesn’t plan on attending. What could this formerly shy, quiet, mumbling nerd look forward to at a reunion anyway?
Later she discovers she was really the school bully who’d left her classmates in tears and with psychiatrist bills. What a misguided perception Fey had of herself!
And so it is with you and me. Sometimes, we exaggerate our positive qualities. What about the self-proclaimed “good listener” who won’t shut up? Then there are the singers (Bikini Girl, William Hung, etc.) in the preliminary weed-out stages of American Idol who think they’re God’s gift to the stage.
What’s worse is when we refuse to accept our positive qualities to the point where our growth is stymied.
Consider these two ways of speaking and living:
“I’m naturally a bad speaker.” vs. “I am working to improve my speaking.”
“I don’t know too much about X.” vs. “I’m learning a little bit more about X every day.”
When I first started working full time, I beat myself up every day. Because I saw the “truth.” I saw that I wasn’t perfect, and I wished I already knew what I was having to learn. I didn’t know that learning was OK and expected.
A few months later I learned, the truth was, I was pretty good at what I had been doing. But I just didn’t see it at the time.
Minor bad experiences can be a black cloud blocking the sun. I think the key is to let your thoughts be productive by dwelling on your new goals and intentions.
So how do you know when you’re good at something?
Should we find credibility in ourselves based on when others compliment us? Or should we find credibility in ourselves without relying on what others think?
What if someone who compliments you is just being nice? I think it’s not even worth worrying about as long as you do your part to continually improve.
There truly is a sense of freedom when you understand a personal quality that holds you (or others) back and when you can accept it and work to break it.