I’ve had three extremely thought-provoking conversations in the last two days, and all three were with co-workers I admire. Each conversation turned quickly to a discussion about the utilization of our skills, talents and abilities, and how and where we might best wish to use them moving forward.
At some point in each of the three, it was interesting how we complimented each other, and freely provided positive feedback. This feedback came in statements of what we admire in each other, the impact of the person on our shared clients we have witnessed, and in all three, things turned to what we surmised motivated each other, and that we might possibly be more in the future than we are in the present.
These conversations were most pleasant to be a part of because they got past the everyday conversations about the weather, how people are doing, what’s in the news etc. and got deeper into meaningful conversations each was ready and willing to engage in. And while these conversations provided external credibility and validation, I want to turn to internal validation in this post.
Internal validation with respect to employment, comes when you know you are in the right job. Whether you are at the top of the organization or on the front-line dealing directly with the customer, you are positioned in a career or occupation that makes maximum use of your talents, education and cumulative experience. In addition to this, you have pride in the work you do and what you accomplish. In short, you’re good and you know it. But this isn’t conceit, and that is critical to understand.
There is no bragging, no ‘look at me I’m Mr. Wonderful” (Miss, Ms. or Mrs. Wonderful works too!) Acknowledging that you are really good at what you do to yourself is such an empowering thing to do, but we so often shy away from denying ourselves this wonderful feeling. Think about it… We all strive to find daily work that pays well and brings us happiness. We are most happy when doing things that challenge us but that we do with competence and achieve positive results. So it’s odd if we finally achieve this goal and then deny ourselves the right to own it and say, “I know I’m good at what I do.”
So internal validation comes when we say to ourselves that we are good at what we do and we actually are on an objective level at the same time. The objective level means that there’s an external accountability that backs up how we feel, which keeps things from be fanciful and delusional. So for example if I thought I was an outstanding Goalkeeper on a sports team, but I constantly give up many goals, the objective information is there that proves I’m not as good as I think I am, and I’m deluding myself to think otherwise.
Now external validation is when those around us provide us with the feedback which reinforces the success we achieve. Comments like, “Good job on that assignment”, “Boy you really handled that problem well” or, “You really have a way with people” are examples of others (the external sources) identifying our successes and providing positive acknowledgement of what we have achieved or done. If you are getting multiple compliments over time for certain abilities, that leads to a reputation, and a reputation becomes your brand as in, “Let’s get Alice in on this, she’s our best option to tackle this situation”.
But here’s an oddity that I find. There are many people around me in my own workplace who deflect praise and external validation. Yet the same people go out of their way to praise, compliment and external validate others they work with. When they receive a compliment from me for example, they deflect it away, and instead of us talking about them, I find in seconds we’re talking about me, or some other person. I’ve actually pointed this out and said, “Hang on a minute, you’re deflecting my compliment. I’m talking about you and what you’ve done.” Then at that point they say, “Oh I’m sorry, you’re right, I should just say thank you.” That’s because of course they are being modest and don’t wish to appear to be self-centered or seeking praise, but that’s another issue altogether and not what’s really happening.
I’m very fortunate in that I feel I’m good at what I do. I’m far from perfect, and I’ve got a great deal more to learn; in fact, I hope I’ve got more to learn than I currently know. What I’ve yet to learn may be easy, difficult, trying, painful, joyful, exhilarating or befuddling. But learn I will and hopefully I’ll not only be better for it, but those whom I serve and whom I work with will also benefit from that learning. And I hope the same is true for you who find yourselves reading this blog.
It would be wonderful if everyone felt internally validated in the work that they do, and this is one of main reasons,the unemployed feel great stress because they want and NEED to feel this same validation. When we work to our strengths, perform our work with enthusiasm and joy, we achieve happiness.
May you find great happiness in what you do, and likewise feel internally validated as you go about your work.