What would need to happen for you to give yourself permission to feel valued at work regardless of what other people think? If that’s a stumper, or your brain just exploded, here are four insights you can use to feel more valued at work.
The worst thing my dad could ever say to me was “I’m disappointed in you”. That would take all the wind out of me.
I would feel so guilty for hurting my dad. And to be honest, I think that was his intention.
But that strategy also had some unintended consequences. I began to believe I was less valued when I do bad things. I don’t think my dad actually loved me any less, but when you’re a kid, you worry about that stuff.
You think “I need to be good so [my dad] loves me again.”
The same thing happens with your teachers, friends, and other authority figures… you get praise when you do “good things” and disappointment when you do “bad things”. And since you want your teachers, friends, and authority figures to like you, you worry about what they think.
You learned to determine your value based on your accomplishments and what other people think about you.
Fast forward 20 or 30 years, and you’re still operating based on those lessons, especially at work.
One of the common complaints I hear from clients when we first start together is, “I’m not valued at work.” And I get why that’s important because when you’re not consistently valued, you don’t feel like you’re doing your job well enough.
But the real problem isn’t that other people don’t value you. It’s that you need other people to value you to feel valuable.
It’s like your own opinion isn’t credible enough. You’ll give some random boss or peer or authority figure more credibility on your value than you’ll give yourself… like they know better than you.
Granted, they may have a more developed skill set in a specific area, but does that automatically mean they get a bigger say than you on your own value?
What would need to happen for you to give yourself permission to value yourself regardless of what other people think?
If that’s a stumper, or your brain just exploded, here are four insights you can use to value yourself more.
1: Your work and your worth are two separate things.
Often, people determine their own “worth” based on what they accomplish at “work”. And so it’s normal to think those things are linked. But they’re not. At least, they don’t have to be.
Your worth is who you are. Your work is what you do. Who you are doesn’t lose value because you didn’t deliver your sales objective.
Think of your worth as your house. It’s always there. You can make improvements to it over time, but you’re just building on something that’s already beautiful with a great foundation.
Your work is the things in your house; furniture, food, toys, clothes, etc. And those things are flexible. You might like them today and then decide they don’t serve you anymore. Or you might break something, burn the food, or stain the clothes. But the house stands. And you can repair the furniture or order takeout or send something to cleaners. And the house is still standing.
My point is your value is constant. What happens at work is incidental.
2: Everything adds value.
Even though work is incidental, I want to offer that no matter what happens, it ADDS to your value. Whaaaat?
Let’s say you don’t get assigned the juicy project you wanted. And then you make that mean that you weren’t good enough for the job. And the truth is the other person was deemed a better fit… but does that mean you’re less valued at work?
When you answer yes, you shut down. You take it personally. Maybe you move onto anger and blame.
And what you can’t do when you’re stuck in self-judgment, anger, and blame is be a leader. And a leader in this case would want to understand where the problem is so they can deal with it.
A leader would use the incident to add value to their abilities in the short term, and equity to their overall value in the long term.
No matter what happens at work, or what the situation is, there is always an opportunity to add value.
I’m not saying don’t be disappointed you didn’t get the assignment. Of course, you’re disappointed. But rather than making it personal, ask yourself; how can I make this work FOR me?
3: Look for your value.
This is a fun exercise. Have you ever just written down all the valuable things about you? It might be hard at first.
I had a client the other day who could only come up with two things at first. She said she was smart. And she was good with numbers. After about 3-4 suggestions from me and literally 3 minutes, she had a 20-item list of things she personally and professionally believed were valuable about her.
But even if we just stuck with the two items she came up with; I’m smart and good with numbers, those are both constants. Even if she makes a mistake, it doesn’t make her not smart. In fact, when she allows it, it makes her smarter!
Being smart and good with numbers is part of her foundational value. Nothing incidental can take that away from her – even if she screwed up the numbers (which she wouldn’t!)
So give it a try… and if you’re having a hard time building your list, ask some people who love you and are invested in you. It’s always a great place for conversation to have
4: Act as if you’re valued at work by everyone.
Sometimes we worry if we’re valued by the people whose opinions we value. And that worry can lead to less leaderly behaviors like not sharing an important opinion, not listening, jumping to conclusions, taking something personally… etc.
But what if you simply assumed all these people valued you? What if you took the worry and wonder off the table and just decided, of course, they value me?
Sometimes we think someone doesn’t value us, and they do. We think someone’s mad at us, and they’re not. We think someone must think they’re better than us, and they think the same about us.
We can’t predict for certainty what people think. And we can’t control it either.
So why not just decide everyone values you? What would that allow you to do next time you don’t get the juicy assignment?
Bottom line: Your value is always there and is determined by you.
Your work is there as a tool to help you build your value over time. No one incident can take away your value. Once it’s there, you always have it. You’re probably just not aware of it.