Are You Guilty of Taking Your Excellence For Granted?

By Judith Sherven, Ph.D.
NABBW’s Associate for Healthy Relationships

Perhaps…

  • You did well in school with practically no effort.Judith Scherven
  • You’ve always been well-liked, even in grammar school.
  • You’ve aced every employment interview you’ve ever had.
  • Your people skills feel like second nature and people have always come to you for help.
  • You receive praise from your manager but it doesn’t mean much because you’ve always been able to perform well.
  • You enjoy your work because using your best skills is a real pleasure so you don’t need others to compliment you or assure you of your value.

So, what’s the problem?

When you take your excellence for granted, not only do you invite others—both colleagues and superiors—to take you for granted, but you fail to understand what you are worth to the company, and where you actually stand in promotional value and leadership capacity.

You may think that consciously holding your excellence as valuable and asserting it in the way you behave in meetings and on the job every day is “playing politics” or “kissing up.” Yet, if you can’t function from within a grounded sense of personal value, it will make it difficult to navigate the world of business in a way that will be personally satisfying. And one way to assess how well you hold your own excellence with value is to examine how well you receive recognition in the form of praise and compliments.

Many managers deprive their direct reports of the recognition they need in order to know where they stand and to feel fulfilled because they personally derive satisfaction from their own strong work ethic and unconsciously expect that from others. And since they are content with working with near invisibility within the company, feeling like, “It’s OK, I don’t really need any personal recognition,” they unconsciously assume everyone is much like they are, thereby remaining insensitive to the needs of their team members for praise and reward (whether accolades from the CEO or bonuses or coverage in the company newsletter or local paper).

For example, several years ago a young manager sought us out because he was shocked and disturbed that one of his most outstanding employees had given notice.

Since his employee had been paid well, was given considerable freedom on the job, and had been promoted twice in the previous three years, our client could see no reason for job dissatisfaction.

Yet, when we asked if he had ever personally praised or thanked his employee for outstanding performance, he said, “I paid him very well, no need to fawn all over somebody.”

When we asked why he associated praise and appreciation with “fawning” he didn’t know right off. All he could say was, “I never thought about it, it just feels unnecessary, almost forced.”

But when we went probing for the unconscious forces that were driving his perspective, and asked him what he remembered about how his own excellence was treated by his parents, after a bit of thought he said, “You know, all I can remember is that my father told me when I was pretty young, ‘Don’t look to your mother or me for praise or compliments, because you can never count on other people’s opinion of how you are doing, you have to count on yourself. And besides most compliments are like gooey cake frosting with artificial coloring added in to make it even more difficult to know what’s really being said.\'”

When we pointed out how demanding and distrusting his father had been, and how he’d taken it in as “gospel”—he began to see what a sad message he’d been raised with. But after he was willing to concede that he’d never questioned the “wisdom” of what had been handed down to him he was actually available to begin to question what all he’d missed out on in his own career and what a sterile atmosphere he insisted on for his team members.

Once he could break through his Unconscious Allegiance to his father’s teachings, and the Unconscious Forbiddance to own and celebrate his own excellence, he gradually became available to openly and thoughtfully honor his team members’ stand-out results and abilities. And little by little his team members began thanking him for a much more vital work environment, even creating an atmosphere of greater support among and between themselves as well.

So, any time you catch yourself fluffing off compliments or ignoring the respect your team may show you, beware the many costs of taking your excellence for granted!

Judith Sherven, PhD and her husband Jim Sniechowski, PhD have developed a penetrating perspective on people’s resistance to success, which they call The Fear of Being Fabuloustm. Recognizing the power of unconscious programming to always outweigh conscious desires, they assert that no one is ever failing—they are always succeeding. The question is, at what? To learn about how this played out in the life of Whitney Houston, check out “What Really Killed Whitney Houston?”

Currently working as consultants on retainer to LinkedIn providing executive coaching, leadership training and consulting as well as working with private clients around the world, they continually prove that when unconscious beliefs are brought to the surface, the barriers to greater success and leadership presence begin to fade away. They call it Overcoming the Fear of Being Fabulous.

This post appeared on LinkedIn. Follow Judith on LinkedIn.