“I Can’t (Don’t Deserve To) Take Credit For That!”

I always look for actions and results my clients are responsible for but don’t realize they are due credit. I insist they devote a page or file exclusively for recording accomplishments. They are often surprised when I instruct them to add to the record what seems to them something less than noteworthy. Almost all of them have no regular practice of recognizing their wins. It’s as if credit and recognition is invisible to them. And I argue in a sense it is.

Generally, women are more comfortable taking credit for what goes wrong rather than what goes right. If it’s a screw up, she’s all over it. A success? Must be an accident!

Some men, on the other hand, seem to have a remarkable talent for claiming credit even when the evidence indicates otherwise.  And they are masters of dodging blame. But that is another conversation.

One of my clients is in the process of a job hunt. She already left her previous position so she is feeling some pressure to make progress. We worked up an action plan for her to follow for one week and when she sat down with me the next time she reported that she had not been able to follow it.

“So I didn’t accomplish anything on the plan.” She was downtrodden. On the surface, it seemed dismal. Can’t make progress that way, right? I dug further.

“Let’s look at what you did do.” She had been called to interview in person for a position that is on her list of targets. Her time went to completing the employment application, going thru the interview, a call back interview and additional conversations with contacts from the target organization. Although none of it was on her action plan, what she described was a full few days of responding to this very good opportunity.

“What’s missing here,” I explained to her, “is acknowledging what you HAVE accomplished.” She looked at me as if I was speaking Greek.

We reviewed her written plan. She was genuinely surprised to realize she had accomplished her weekly goal to get one interview. Then I had her write down what she had actually accomplished for the week. Once she had it on paper and saw with her own eyes what she had been doing, her perspective on her progress changed from “Not much” to “A lot.”

It is so important to celebrate your progress. Keep a continuous record of your successes, no matter how small they seem to you. This record serves as a powerful affirmation and demonstration of your ability to achieve worthwhile goals and gives you a visual image of the successes you have already achieved. Reviewing the record frequently feeds your personal motivation, a strong sense of self-confidence in your ability to succeed and encouragement to persevere even when you meet temporary setbacks.

Immediately she was re-energized to work her action plan for the coming week. Hopeful about a possible job offer, she knows it’s only smart to keep working opportunities for the time being. And now she was enthused about doing it.


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