“Tim, here’s a raise.” “Tim, here’s a bonus.” “Tim, your annual performance review is exemplary.” “Tim, you did an excellent job on that project.” “Tim, great job saving that baby from the house that was on fire.”
Ok, that last one may not be entirely true…
But, I struggle to fully accept compliments and pats on the back. When they come my way, I immediately say ‘thank you’, but the truth is that I don’t believe I deserve them. I find myself thinking in those moments thinking things like:
- It went well because of someone else
- It went well, but if they could only see the behind the scenes mess they wouldn’t be saying those things about me
- I wasn’t perfect, in fact I made many mistakes, so I don’t deserve praise
Surprisingly, one of the biggest motivators for me is words of affirmation. I love it when my wife affirms something I’ve done. It makes me want to do it again or do more. The same is true at work. But, when it comes to fully accepting the compliment or affirmation and internalizing it well, I fail. I dismiss it as something that your boss is obligated to tell you.
What happens, instead, is that I focus on all of the things that I do wrong. All of the times that I’ve messed up. The moments when I’ve missed the mark.
The truth that I need to buy into is that I succeed far more than I fail. The compliments that are paid to me are not out of obligation and, in fact, have validity and truth behind them. The times when I hit it out of the park – I should celebrate that and hold on to it as a moment when I shined and did ‘life’ well.
Now, before someone Jesus Jukes me here, I want to be clear that I’m not talking about not being humble. I believe humbleness should be a way of life for us all. We shouldn’t be proud and boastful of our own successes and act as though it was all because of us.
Because, it probably was because others helped to make it successful. And it’s probably true that there is a mess behind the scenes. And none of us are perfect and you probably did make mistakes.
But, you’ve been complimented. You’ve been told you did a good job. You’ve been given the promotion, or the pay increase, or the positive performance review. You’ve saved the baby from the burning house. Take credit, say thank you, and be happy that your best was enough! Celebrate!
Do you struggle with this? Are there certain situations where it’s more difficult to take a compliment?