Janet Walkow Christine Jacobs

Know Your Fans

It is often easier to internalize negative things said to you or general negative treatment than accept positive thoughts.  I have had several positions over my long career with peers or rivals whose insults went right to my core.  And, they made me doubt myself.  It was then tough to dig out from the emotional lows that this brought about.

You need to have extremely strong self image, bordering on conceit, to combat some of these episodes. For the best results, you need to know who your fans are and let them bring a dose of reality.

What’s Valued

I worked with a woman with strong technical skills and a superior sense of doing the right thing.  She would never give you a political answer but could always be relied upon for an honest consult.  I valued her judgment.  She recently worked in an organization that did not value her direct honesty.  They wanted her to walk a fine ethical line on some issues that made this woman uncomfortable.

Rather than reward her for providing solid well-reasoned analysis, this woman was told that she was not creative or capable.  After hearing this several times she began to distrust her own abilities and knowledge.  This type of self-doubt doesn’t then inhabit only your view of your work abilities but can take over your whole self image.  I have been there and it hurts.

Rely on Your Fans

The answer?  You need to know your fan base.  You need to have people in your life who can remind you of your skills and past successes; people who appreciates your skills and talents.  When you are at your lowest points, you need to be able to go to those fans to have them remind you how of your strengths.

Do you remember the Peter Principle that says that we all rise to our levels of incompetence in an organization?  If your ego is not strong enough, the insults of others may make you think that you hit this feared point.  Maybe yes, but do not just trust yourself.  Develop your own fan base. And let them cheer you on.

Christine Jacobs is an experienced corporate executive and a co-founder of Leading Women. Read her full bio.

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