Cheerleading Yourself and Your Team
Recognizing and Acknowledging Your Positive Results
Most of us, both personally and professionally, are nice guys. Do you believe that? Most of us are hard workers who pull our own weight, and are rather humble about our competencies and contributions (and assume that humility is the right way to think about ourselves). Whether or not you believe these two statements apply to most people, at work and elsewhere, this much is true...there are many people, individually, and on work teams, who do not give themselves the credit they deserve. An over abundant dose of humility does not serve individuals, their teams, nor their organizations, well. A little self-cheerleading, and embracing of bragging rights, helps fuel you for whatever comes next.
How do you feel about yourself and your contributions? How does your work team feel about its contributions? Are you giving yourself/your team, enough credit? Take time out to respond to these statements (I've presented them to you from the individual's perspective, but most of these statements could easily be modified for team introspection).
To help you spot potential attitudinal and behavioural trends, use a scoring mechanism of:
0 for not true, 1 for somewhat true, 2 for mostly true, 3 for true
- I keep my focus on end results, not along-the-way activities.
- I generally have a positive and hopeful attitude. I am optimistic by nature.
- I easily express and believe in my ideas and opinions.
- I go after what I want, rather than sitting around waiting for things to come to me.
- I write out personal and professional goals and plan a strategy for achieving them.
- If I believe in something, I'm like a dog with a bone! I persist until I get the results I want.
- I often think that others/other teams/departments are better than I am.
- I feel annoyed and embarrassed when I can't deliver a perfect product or result.
- I feel bad if I do not receive the acknowledgement and credit I deserve.
- I don't give my self proper credit for my talents, efforts and competencies.
- I feel vulnerable to others/other department's opinions and comments.
- I consciously choose to adapt my communication style to suit others.
- I am comfortable revealing to others the truth about who I am and what I stand for.
- I am comfortable and relaxed with strangers, socially and professionally, too.
- I am not afraid of verbal confrontations (either personal or professional ones).
- I usually let the needs of other people/teams/departments/come before mine.
- I take responsibility for my mistakes, and for the things I do that work out poorly.
- I usually feel angry and resentful when I lose to another.
- I am positive and open to new things .
- I am receptive to, and gregarious with, my work colleagues and clients.
- I accept the mistakes of others without needing to make them feel wrong about it.
- I am inclined to put myself down for my perceived failings and shortcomings.
- It's easier for me to discuss my flaws than my positive qualities, talents and traits.
- I'm often self-righteous and judgmental of others.
- I like myself.
Quick! Review any trends you see in your responses. What patterns have you noticed in those statements you scored with a 2 or 3, or with a 0? Sometimes you have to look a little harder to get that 'aha!' that leads the way to important insights into your thinking and behaviour. This exercise gives you a snapshot style hit of how you currently see yourself/your team. There isn't any right or wrong about your score. The statements do, however, give you an opportunity to examine to what extent, right now, you feel inner or outer controlled; are you on your own side, or are you your own worst enemy? To what extent is your thinking about yourself/your team helping or hindering the results you desire?
In my conference keynotes I often share a comic drawing of an out of shape fellow (in a T shirt, in boxer shorts, with hair stumble on his legs), standing in front of a full length mirror. He is posing in classic muscle flexing form, with a big, toothy grin of self-congratulating pride on his face, as he gazes at the beauty of his reflection in the mirror. The trouble is...the reflected image he sees bouncing back at him is that of a "Mr. Universe or Charles Atlas"! It is true that some people, and some teams (and perhaps even some whole organizations) think they are in better "shape" than they really are, but, for the most part, more people more likely do not see what good shape they're in! This other side of the "bad shape-good shape" fence is so nicely captured in another comic, which illustrates an ancient Macedonian mother yelling at her forlorn looking, cowering, grown-up son, saying, "And another thing...I want you to be more assertive! I'm tired of everyone calling you Alexander the Pretty Good!" He wasn't supposed to be Alexander the "Pretty Good"...he was Alexander the GREAT! So what are you? So what is your team? department? So-so? Pretty good? Or Great?
Many people can sing the praises of others, but not very well about themselves. For example, right now, and placing one minute on the clock:
List 10 specific and positive traits about yourself. Make at least one of them something about your physical form...from the neck down!
Was this quickie exercise easy for you, or rough going? Whether you're in senior management or a frontline employee, you may be surprised (or maybe not!) by how many people have a difficult time coming up with 10 positive personal attributes in 60 seconds...and the mandatory attribute, about the physical form, is often the hardest of all! Why is that? We know ourselves better than anyone else...so why do we, in such large numbers, have a difficult time identifying 10 terrific traits? Are we worried that we'll be perceived as arrogant? conceited? boastful? Is it boasting if you are merely acknowledging what you know you bring to the table? If we can't, individually or as a team, practice acknowledging ourselves in safe environments, how are we ever going to develop our courage to speak up about our qualities when we are seriously called upon to do so? (for example, the next time you go for a job interview, for that plum of a promotion you really want so bad you can taste it, or the next time your department must justify why it should receive the requested budget dollars, or why it should continue to exist at all!).
To concretely recognize some of your own terrific results, try this "Alexander the GREAT!" exercise, on a personal level, and also with your team, at your next team meeting:
Ask yourself/your team these questions:
- What is one positive result that I currently have in my life/my work/on my team?
- What did I/we have to risk to achieve that result?
- What did I/we have to believe that I/we could do to achieve this result?
Here's my own example, that conveniently spans my personal and professional life:
One result I have in my personal and professional life is: I've been working a free-lance, professional speaking business for many years.
I had to risk: a regular pay cheque, ability to meet monthly fixed bills and expenses, job security, company pension plan, regular hours of work, day-to-day interaction with the same family of workplace colleagues, feelings of isolation, self-promotion.
I had to believe that I could: make an inspiring and concrete difference in the personal and professional lives of people from a diversity of industries and organizations, effectively make first contact with my clients by phone, email and other means, earn a respectable full-time living as a self-employed, professional speaker and workshop facilitator (and pay the bills!), achieve my personal definition of success within the first 3 to 5 years.
You know that you have miles to go before you sleep, and that every time you achieve some desired result you'll probably shoot for a new one, but recognize the inspiration and energy that you can produce for yourself by acknowledging some of your terrific results along the way. Perhaps the following quotes will help inspire you to cheerlead both yourself, and your team:
If I am not for myself, who will be? Pirke Avot
I am better than my reputation. Friedrich von Schiller
Self-reverance, self-knowledge, self-control-- these three alone lead to sovereign power. Alfred, Lord Tennyson
There is no greater delight than to be conscious of sincerity on self-examination. Mencius
Individuals and work teams must practice less humility and more objective acknowledgement of their positive qualities and contributions. Practice now...before you need to seriously go to the wall to represent yourself or your team's performance.
What are your positive results? What did you have to risk and believe? Are you better today because of it? Take a chance, before the summer vacations scatter the energy, by making the balance of June the time to consciously cheerlead yourself and your team.