The Desk

December 28, 2010

Career Tip: Display the Awards

Filed under: Career Advancement,Career Tips,Newsletter — Yvonne LaRose @ 11:37 PM
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The Kennedy Center Honors are on tonight. I’ll admit it for each of us. The thoughts emerged spontaneously and could not be suppressed. (Aren’t you glad there are writers and career coaches like me who can admit the thoughts for those who wouldn’t dare admit them?)

“I’ve done a lot of work; toiled against odds; overcome insurmountable circumstances; come from humble beginnings. Why can’t I be acknowledged for what I’ve done?”

First, there’s scale. People like Oprah, Bill T. Jones, and the other honorees for tonight and award shows throughout time, are about the ones who have publicity agents of some sort who go about trumpeting the accomplishments as well as making those times when they fell on their faces look like a prat fall done for effect. The publicity agent gets paid for bringing attention to the right things and milking the incident for as long as necessary to put a halo on the celebrity. That’s scale. The celebrities (and politicians) are the bigger than life entities. They need the time to focus on their principle endeavors while some specialist puts a twist on the various acts to play up their importance to the ones who count, be that agents, producers, publishers, hiring managers.

Uh, hiring managers? Yes, and co-workers and on and on. That’s where scale comes in. We who do not walk on clouds still need agents of some sort. Those people who trumpet our accomplishments for us to the ones who count – co-workers, managers and supervisors, friends and associates. And we need to have the gumption to trumpet a few of those for our own selves (mind you, not all of them). There, it’s helpful to have certificates and plaques and trophies that attest to our accomplishments. Then we can put them on the mantle, the dining room sideboard, the walls, inside linen closets.

Wait a minute! Did I say “linen closet?” Yes, I did. There’s the story of the woman who had awards, degrees, certificates, trophies, of all manner for numerous accomplishments. And these were only a few of the ones she’d earned. (Emphasis on the word “earned,” please.) The reason she put them inside the closet was because she was aware of how uncomfortable they made her family and friends when they saw them. She didn’t want to create jealousy or envy (such horrible emotions) and she didn’t want to embarrass the people who were special to her. Earning each one took a lot of work in order to merit it but she never spoke of the work and merely brushed off any references to the awards if anyone became aware of them.

Then a day came when she sat in the closet and looked at all of those awards staring at her, accusing her of neglect. It wasn’t neglect of the awards. They were properly perma-plaqued, framed, or whatever else was appropriate. The bronze pieces were polished on a regular basis. But that day, she looked at the awards and realized she was hiding the awards and also hiding her accomplishments.

How could she rise to the heights she deserved if she literally hid everything she’d done to deserve, to earn, the next step in her life and the limelight and the accolades that she merited. It was time for her to come out of the closet with the awards.

With that type of disclosure, however, comes a new responsibility. That is the fierceness to stand up for yourself in the heat of pressure and attempts to make you feel unsure of yourself. That is the time to draw on the inner knowledge of all the steps that led to that moment in time of the crisis, the testing of the leader (of whatever level) and know with a certainty that you are extremely capable. You know the answer or at least how to find it. You have the confidence to follow it through.

Make certain some of your accomplishments are listed on your resume – the ones that pertain to the position you seek. Make certain your agent (be it your supervisor, best friends, social network) promotes some of your coups (so you don’t have to do it for yourself and sound like a braggart). Remember to reciprocate at appropriate times.

Most importantly, stop putting your awards in the closet. Display them!

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