Tell me about your achievements.
When I ask clients to think of their top ten achievements often they find it hard. Many don't recognise that they have any, even when I say you should value your achievements.
Most start by saying that they don’t have that many achievements, and even when they mutter their way through them, inserting lots of just, only, quite good, to underplay whatever they are telling me, there is often a discomfort in actually feeling proud of what they have done. It is so important that you value your achievements.
Everyone has achievements, and they all deserve praise - from the person who has achieved them as well as the person listening. Many of the amazing achievements that have been told to me are not considered very special by those relating them. Often it is in general conversation that little gems are dropped, shining jewels whose value has not been appreciated.
One lady, Marianne, was coming to see me, and she telephoned the night before to say she couldn't come, because she had no achievements. I asked her to think throughout her life, and jot down things that she had done during that time. I explained that it was important that you value your achievements.
When it came to the telling, she was an amazing lady. She had cared for her younger siblings from the age of 16 when her mother died. In her forties she still cared for one younger brother, who suffered from a mental disorder. But as she said, 'that wasn't an achievement; anyone would have done the same.'
She regularly visited a mental hospital, to spend time with patients who had no visitors. She explained that she would just get them a cup of tea, sit holding their hand, and chatting, but 'that wasn’t an achievement, because anyone would do the same.'
Marianne worked as a librarian in a university library. When asked to elaborate on her duties she told me that she was often asked to find research material for lecturers and professors, and if the information was not available from her own library she had contacts throughout the UK and abroad, who could help her.
She also used the internet to find what she was looking for. When I told her that what she was doing was research, she laughed, and said,' no, I'm just a librarian'.
On a voluntary basis she also worked for a charity, where she had been given training so that she could give advice and support. She very much enjoyed the work, and found it fulfilling.
It would have been her dream to work in a paid capacity for the organisation, but when I asked what was stopping her, she said 'I'm not good enough to do that, so I wouldn't ever ask'.
During our conversation, I mentioned that the charity must be always on the lookout for volunteers, and she agreed, but added that because of the nature of the work, they had to be very careful about who they employed.
I asked how she had got the job, and she told me about the selection process. When I enquired how many people applied, she told me they had interviewed sixty, and when asked how many had been taken on, she said one, herself. But that wasn’t an achievement! She was just lucky.
I suggested that she approach the charity and ask if there were any paid posts coming up. After working on her belief system, and accepting that it was possible for her to do the job, she did ask. There was nothing going at that time, but when funding became available later that year she applied for and got the job. That was an achievement.
Modesty is the best policy.
Most people, when asked about their achievements give an abbreviated answer, without actually detailing the situation, the actions taken and the result. I usually need to probe to find out what the motivator was for them to achieve. What trigger was used? For some it ‘just needed to be done’, for others, ‘I always wanted to’ , ‘It was something I always dreamed of’ or ‘Everyone said I couldn’t so I wanted to prove them wrong.’
Try this for yourself.
It can be a very useful exercise to write down your achievements. I would usually be asking for ten. Try to find ten of your own. I want you to value your achievements.
Once you have written them down think back to why you did what you did, what motivated you, what risks did you have to take, what fears did you have to overcome, and how can you find that same successful trigger for something else which you want to do in the future.
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