Being Confident in Your Value
Let’s talk shoes. More specifically, let’s talk about shopping for shoes.
I’m not a big shopper. Never have been. But, I have kids. They grow. So, I’m forced to shop.
Most recently, they needed shoes. And, it got me thinking about how confident we are in our shoe size.
What’s your shoe size?
I bet, instantly you knew the answer. Without any doubt. You answered with an 8, or 10, or 12.5. You just knew.
Now, think back to the last time you shopped for shoes. When you were trying on shoes.
What happened when you tried on a pair that didn’t quite fit? Maybe they pinched in the toe, or felt too loose around the heel. Did you try a half size bigger or smaller? Maybe you tried a different shoe altogether.
Now, we don’t know each other, but I know, with near certainty, what you didn’t do. You didn’t question your shoe size. You didn’t criticize your feet. You didn’t do anything other than continue to try on shoes. Until you found a pair that fit.
It’s interesting how we never doubt in ourselves when we shop for shoes. We’ve accepted that not all shoes fit the same. That we have to try them on before we buy. It’s not that we’re wrong about our shoe size, it’s that some shoes run big. Others small.
We certainly aren’t this confident or accepting when it comes to our value as a worker. If we apply for a promotion, or a new job, and we’re rejected. Told we weren’t the best fit. Instantly, we start to question our value. Doubt our abilities.
It’s a horrible, horrible habit. A habit we can’t let today’s students, tomorrow’s workers, develop.
It’s anticipated that careers in the Future of Work will be a series of different jobs. Each one held for only 3-4 years. That means tomorrow’s workers will be doing more applying. More trying. Which, by default, means more rejection.
We can’t afford to let our kids develop the habit of questioning their abilities, doubting their value, each time they face rejection by an employer.
We’ve got to help them develop a mindset that’s more akin to buying shoes — accepting that some shoes just don’t fit. So, we move on to another size, a different pair. Nothing more. Nothing less.
How do we do that? Where do we begin?
I think it starts with changing the way we talk about work, about jobs. Perhaps more specifically, the way we talk about employers.
Generally, we talk about employers as the job creators. The engine of the economy. This places the employer in a position of near reverence. The person to whom we owe great gratitude.
And, from there, we see jobs as being something we should contort ourselves to fit into. We try to make ourselves fit into the employer’s image of the perfect candidate.
Imagine a world in which we contorted our feet into ill-fitting shoes. Where we felt responsible, took the blame. So, we tolerated blisters. Bound our feet.
That’s crazy, right? We would never try remaking ourselves to fit into shoes. So, why do we try so hard to fit into jobs?
We should break that habit. It does nothing but erode confidence in our own value.
I get that jobs are far more important than shoes. That we can’t buy food or pay rent without a job. We can’t even buy shoes without a job. But, I hope there’s an analogy here that helps shape a new way to think about job hunting.
First, we need to recognize that there’s a two-way relationship between employers and workers. That while we need jobs, employers need workers too. That engines are built with many different parts. Including economic engines.
Second, it’s important to remember that there are good employers and bad employers. Good ones are clear about the type of person they need — the skills, the experience, even the attitude. Getting rejected by a good employer simply means you weren’t the best fit for them.
Bad employers aren’t at all clear about what they need. They typically want advanced level skills at entry-level rates. Getting rejected by a bad employer is ok. It would never have been a good fit anyway.
Either way, a job that doesn’t fit is kind of like a shoe that doesn’t fit. Certainly, there’s disappointment. But, our value is not altered. Our abilities need not be doubted. And, there’s not need for contortion.
Rather, we just need to keep looking. Keep trying. And, be absolutely confident in our value. Just as we are in our shoe size. Sure, we all need a job. But, we want one that fits.