You feel untouchable – everything is going well, opportunities are being presented to you and everyone knows it. STOP RIGHT THERE.
Everyone knows it? One of the most interesting lessons I’ve learned in my relatively short life is that nobody likes a braggart, an “I’m soooo busy” type of person that they are now too good for others. After all, they don’t have time now, do they, because they are so much in demand?
In one of my former jobs while attending graduate school, I was working as a legal assistant and office manager. The assumption by those who reigned over the office assistants found it challenging to believe we had ideas, thoughts, feelings or achievements and successes of our own. They were too busy expounding on their own worth and wealth of opportunities. There was also another set. The set that was happy in their lot as legal secretaries and none too pleased that I wasn’t. It was not a place, where, even among my own co-workers, stories of my successes were welcomed. Many times, this was not the result of jealousy, but a simple matter of angering very kind individuals that enjoyed their position who were put off by my distaste of the same position.
I never forgot the lessons I learned in that job. Today, I share my successes with those that care, not those who are trapped by close physical proximities (ie. uncontrolled circumstances) and have to pretend to care. I also know that, while I may be extremely excited about what I’m doing, there are always others doing more – and often doing it without the need for acknowledgement.
There are some truly amazing professionals (and we’ve all met someone like this) that have accomplished and contributed so much to our profession, and yet are the most humble and down-to-earth individuals we have ever known. They ask questions, understanding that they still have much to learn.
An attitude of superiority and contempt for others only takes you so far. At some point, the opportunities will run dry and no one will want to work with you. More importantly, no one who used to care will listen.
While I think all of us can reflect on moments when we were so excited by an event or opportunity that we ran around telling everyone and enjoyed the “big head” moment for a while, we can also remember taking a step back and feeling a little embarrassed by our behaviour – especially if it resulted in a “know it all” attitude resulting in hurt feelings.
I will never forget how very small I was made to feel at times in my former work as a legal secretary. Because I chose not to share the fact that I’d published or was earning an MLIS, those “know it alls” knew nothing at all.
Whether you’re a manager, co-worker or friend, it is important to remember that being humble is also a virtue. We are all, unfortunately, replaceable and, eventually, forgettable, whether or not we like to think so. If you are doing well in your career, there is no need to hide it, but there is a need to remember that it is how you deal with your successes that determines if you’re a professional.