I don’t believe in coincidences. Yesterday was the third time in a week that a person I coach spoke of the frustration of not being recognized by bosses or peers as having strong potential. If this is the reality they all share, it must be in the air, so time for a blog post!
In all three conversations, we played with the following notions: a) What does the perception of others have to do with your potential? It is a question that took all three by surprise. They thought about it and came to the conclusion that they were letting others dictate not only their present state of frustration, but also create blocks on their horizons. I didn’t take long for two of them to argue back that they lived in an environment that had rules about promotions through competitions, and so on. My next questions then was: b) What is making you choose to stay in this environment that has decided that you are junior and not senior, or senior and not executive material, or executive but not senior executive etc.? Another pause. One of them remarked on how she had deferred for too long to other people’s assessment of her competence. Even people she didn’t see as competent but who happened to be sitting higher up in the hierarchy. Another commented on the many individuals she knew with fewer diplomas, less experience, fewer skills who were working to their full potential, and started wondering out loud what was stopping her from doing just that!
Two spoke of the obstacles in their way: gender, age, ethnicity, family circumstances, lack of networks etc. Yes, many of these elements can be obstacles to your full expression in certain environments. And…what are you choosing now, moment by moment? For many there are a dozen reasons to stay where they are — from years of pensionable service, to financial commitments, to the current state of the job market etc. We spoke of the difference in your outlook when you choose to stay because of reasons you deem valid, and when you feel you have to stay and resent every minute of it. What happens then to the quality of your life?
What I notice over and over again, and discussed with each of them is the fact that we human beings don’t seem to realize that we are creating much of our reality. Let’s look at how we can create differently. Next up for conversation is to challenge the perception we have that there is an ‘outside’ of us and an ‘inside of us’.
They each have homework to do, while I will continue to ponder why all three showed up with this question in my own life…