When I was young, the messaging that I heard over and over when I hadn’t achieved perfection was, “you need to work harder”, “you have to try harder, give it your best”, and “you need to prove to other people that you’re good enough, that you’re the best, that you’re worth it.” This messaging often seemed out of place because I WAS working hard, and giving it my best, however, my beat-up self-esteem didn’t quite believe I was worth it or god enough. Because I am also a fierce competitor who likes being first, this kind of messaging created a default belief – when I meet a hurdle, the way to get over that hurdle is to muscle it out.
In my professional arena, I spent years proving my worth of a Director and eventually Chief Learning Officer role. I built an entire department, I went back to school while working full time, I accepted when someone who had no experience was hired to be the manager of the team I built without even an interview and I trained them to do the job, I created strategic solutions to major organizational problems saving millions of dollars a year and I still didn’t get the job I was aiming for.
Within my emotional intelligence profile, my stress tolerance is well developed. This, combined with default messaging of ‘try harder’ allows me to take each punch directly on the chin, dust myself off, and keep working. Prove myself.
The fact was, based on the language I had heard so many times, I believed my value ceiling was low and I was behaving in a way that was reinforcing that to others.
TA-DA! Emotional Intelligence growth.
The practices and strategies under self-regard provided a framework for me to begin to raise my value ceiling. I watched myself like a hawk, paying attention to physical cues of overload (my body starts to get sore from my workouts which is uncommon for me unless I’m on overload) and internal dialogue that sounded anything like “try harder”. When either of these manifestations appeared, I would grab a blank piece of paper and outline my strengths and weaknesses. I would also reach to trusted colleagues and ask their opinions of what was happening.
He is extracting every bit that he can from his current role in order to achieve his long term goal. He knows his value ceiling…and it’s not in the current job he has.
Just today, I had a chance meeting with a Manager that has been to development workshops that I’ve led. He just got a promotion and I asked him about school (his long term goal is to be a doctor). He described that he continues to aim for this goal and has 2 years within his plan to accomplish it. That it is better for him to apply as a professional applicant than an academic applicant and to do so requires he has 4 years’ experience plus professional references. He is using the education allowance program to continue the learning under his long term goals. He is extracting every bit that he can from his current role in order to achieve his long term goal. He knows his value ceiling…and it’s not in the current job he has.
Here’s the final lesson.
Knowing your value ceiling will allow you to;
1. Strive for excellence in the role that you have and that you are doing well.
2. When given the opportunity for the next level, do so by growing your skills, knowledge, and emotional intelligence through courses, mentoring, coaching.
3. When ‘capped’ with no further opportunity made available, make a decision to leave to find external opportunities that will see your worth in alignment to how you do.