If I’ve learned anything in the work place, it’s that most people simply want recognition for a good day’s work. Pay and promotion are secondary to a simple gesture of a pat on the back or a “well done.“ Yet, why is it that praise is so often lost in the shuffle? When just saying “thank you” is so easy and cost effective, silence often replaces.
I remember going through a rough stage in my career where I felt invisible. Like Ralph Ellison’s protagonist in the Invisible Man, even with 1,369 light bulbs shining brightly around his basement room, he still felt like nobody noticed.
“I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids – and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.” This quote has stuck with me for well over two decades since first reading Mr. Ellison’s 1952 classic in high school.
The conundrum is that even during my most dejected times, when all I wanted to do was give up, I got promoted like clockwork. One would argue that everything is in the mind, and that if the company is promoting me then by default, they are recognizing my work. Yes, to a large extent this is very true. What people don’t realize is that with each promotion comes a higher and higher hurdle to achieve until one day, the hurdle stands 20 feet tall and becomes physically impossible to clear anymore.
The pace of progress has slowed, and I’m left wondering how to continue improving. It’s like making money. Even a multi-millionaire can make an extra buck. It never ends. The pull of other people’s success draws me to create my own. Again, a comparative issue which is hard to avoid. Once you become the manager of the first floor, you begin to wonder what it’s like to be the manager of all ten floors. Pretty soon everybody expects you to keep succeeding and peers no longer praise you because you are expected to win. Here’s when things begin to unravel.
LOOK OUT FOR OTHERS
The solution is to never stop giving. At some point in our careers we have the duty and the power to nurture others. It’s like waking up one day at 35, realizing you’re not the youngest person in the crowd anymore. There’s no novelty or glee in telling others how far you’ve come at such a young age, because you’re just not that young anymore. There’s always a new crop of people coming in, and it’s up to you as the senior person to recognize other people’s efforts openly with no concern of your own. Stop thinking about yourself.
Refuse to not see someone and all their talents. Don’t let them be invisible. Allow them to turn off all their light bulbs except one. All anyone needs is just one.
Readers, have you ever felt invisible in your career, with your friends, or family? What about in the online world if you have a website? If so, how do you cope and make sure you don’t let the feeling of irrelevance keep you down?
Sam @ Financial Samurai – “Slicing Through Money’s Mysteries”