You Are Enough: How To Stop Feeling Less Than The Masterpiece You Are

You Are Enough: How To Stop Feeling Less Than The Masterpiece You Are

You are enough. 

I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume you’ve heard this expression used in the last few years, but did you believe it? Do you believe it? 

Shakespeare got the idea as evidenced in his line, “To thine own self be true.” And, then in the late 1800s, Oscar Wilde coined the term “Be yourself everyone else is taken.” 

These famed poets got it, but clearly it’s an idea we’ve been fighting for centuries. 

And so the question remains, how do you and I overcome the limiting belief that thine own self is not enough?

From Perfection to Scarcity 

As an infant, despite being the cute button that you were, you probably didn’t showcase any star-quality abilities. For months, your roster of extraordinary talents consisted of crying, pooping, sleeping, and making your momma laugh. Yet, passersby awed over your angelic bundle of pudgy flesh and you were your parents’ pride and joy. You’d not done anything yet, you were celebrated simply for existing. You were perfect just because you were born.

Babies are delightfully perfect examples of a human being, we love them for being fat. For crying. For being angry. For voicing what they want and need. We are born knowing what we need…and being appreciated for that intuition.

So what exactly happens to chip away at our self-worth? Do you remember the day that you officially decided that you weren’t affluent enough, tall enough, plump-lipped enough, light-skinned enough, dark-skinned enough, pointy-nosed enough, funny enough, or intellectual enough or clever enough to be worthy of a joy-FULL human experience?

I don’t remember that day, but I do remember some painful moments along the path. My guess is you do too…

The Subliminal Scale Of Self-Worth 

It’s something everyone does, but you’re probably unaware of how often you do it. You’ve been pressing the figurative record button since childhood. Messages or your interpretations of circumstances that have occurred in your life are used to determine your level of worthiness.

Broken hearts, failed exams, supermodels, missed promotions, and the number of likes on your latest post all takes their toll. One day you feel like you’ve made it, and can live on your mountaintop forever. The next day, one comment or one misstep hurls you back down to the base. Your mind is a constant battlefield – one minute you are enough and the next your insecurities get the best of you.

Each failure you’ve encountered, each accomplishment you’ve achieved is used as ammunition to affirm your self-worth or knock it back. It’s a constant back-and-forth from the You Are Enough column to Something Is Wrong with Me columns. 

Just stepping out of the shower and facing a mirror every day, you are confronted by that nagging voice of judgment. It’s as though a sly, little troll lurks behind the toilet, eager to analyze your reflection. With his clipboard and checklist, he notes the tone of your arms and belly. He pulls a magnifying glass out of his trousers’ pocket to check for new wrinkles and stray grey hairs.

Once the thorough scan is complete, you are declared fit, or (on most days, ugggh) not fit. Outcomes the red stamp of disapproval –  NOT ENOUGH. You vow to make better choices around the sweets in the office lunchroom and to stop by the drug store to pick up an anti-wrinkle serum (or a bottle of hair dye) on the way home

Or maybe you scroll the internet and talk to your boss to see if maybe you should get another certificate, an MBP or a Ph.D., because, despite 20 years of experience, you just don’t know enough. Or do you?

Comparisons: The Root of Self-Doubt and The Enemy of Self-Worth

A substantial list of outside circumstances may have culminated to form your negative self-worth image. However, it’s important to recognize the dominating role your own ego plays in determining how you feel about yourself. 

Your ego, a.k.a. “The Queen of Comparisons” is continually on the lookout for opportunities to make you feel inferior or superior to others. Either way, you’ll want to learn how to silence this beast. She serves no positive purpose. Moreover, each time you fall prey to the need to judge yourself or others, you are drawn farther away from your ability to share peace and joy with not only yourself but with those you love.

Conducting Appraisals Has Consequences

In today’s world, society has created so many parameters by which to measure our importance. Women feel a massive amount of pressure to conform to a certain profile in order to worthy and accepted. You are successful and enough only when you can afford a Louis Vuitton before thirty, be married to the perfect partner who does his share of the housework, all while raising exceptionally gifted kids (who sleep through the night) by your forties and working a job, and be fit like Jennifer Aniston in your fifties.

Sizing yourself and others up to the world’s standards does not leave much room for being human. Basing your values on idealisms meant for romance novels and Hollywood movies, stunts our personal, spiritual, and even professional growth. The consequences of assessing your own value or the significance of others based upon society’s appraisal system are toxic.

You may not realize it, but every time you judge yourself it gets worse: 

  • You come off in a negative light, whether your feelings are of superiority or inferiority
  • You resent others and jealousy surfaces
  • Conversations revolve around gossip
  • You crawl out of bed unmotivated which only reinforces feelings of not being good enough
  • You become the prosecutor and judge of random innocent strangers (and even your real-life Facebook friends) based on exterior qualities or material possessions without knowing the real story behind the person

The ego gains more power and influence each time you let these thoughts and judgments compete for your attention on a daily basis. The signs of an ego in total control may not be obvious. Sometimes they show up as the tendency to shift the responsibility or blame on others, other times to carryout excessive acts to gain notoriety and recognition. The ego can also resort to bitter jealousy when others succeed, a voracious hunger for more or even a resigned form of depression — I should have, could have, if only I’d ______ fill in the blanks. 

As an Amazon affiliate, I make a small commission from any purchases made through affiliate links as found in this blog post.

How to Conquer the Ego’s Urge to Compare

First focus on your own journey. There is always someone smarter and someone less smart that you. Every person has her own unique path, but in the end, all roads lead to the same place.To be blunt we all die.

To be kind, each fellow earthling, no matter how flawless his or her persona appears to be, experiences insecurity, fear, and criticism as you do. Peace comes from letting go of expectations, appreciating others’ talents, nurturing yourself, and living on your terms. 

Elaine Welteroth describes in her New York Times Bestseller, More Than Enough, her arduous pursuit in overcoming self-doubt and breaking traditional barriers. Her inspiring story of an ambitious bi-racial woman climbing the corporate ladder demonstrates how important it is to give yourself space and permission to chart your own course. An example of remaining true to oneself, the author discovers her best life by standing firm on what is right.

Accept imperfections.  As Brene Brown teaches us in the Gifts of Imperfection, seeking out perfection, in fact, holds us back. In spite of our vices, shortcomings, chin whiskers and all (I pulled mine out just last week), you are enough. You have an important gift to offer the world. Don’t let the things you cannot do distract you from the one thing you were born to do. Direct your attention to your strengths and ask for help, or hire a team to compensate in the areas you may be lacking.

Reacquaint yourself with your core values. Regularly reviewing what you value most is a good strategy to keep you centered and on track. This process helps you to recognize and serves as a reminder that all you need, you already have. Remembering this smothers the insatiable desire for more.

Practice being grateful and gracious – avoid gossip. Finding one thing to praise another for cancels the impulse to gossip. Building others up rather than tearing them down triggers a wonderful sense of wellbeing within the soul. Plus, you are a magnet and will always receive back what you’re sending out into the world.

Leave the past in the past. What good comes from holding onto the shame of failed relationships, embarrassing moments, or deferred dreams? Every event and outcome is a chance to learn – a refinement. The situations and conditions that you endure and believe to be setbacks, actually set you up and prepare you for a whole new level. At each stage, you become stronger, wiser, and more of your authentic character emerges. 

What It Means To Be Enough

There is no magical formula for achieving enoughness. You don’t have to lose twenty more pounds or learn to ice a Frozen-themed cake like Suzie’s mom. It’s not about being the founder of a successful business, or the post-nominal initials you grinded for years to earn. The titles, size six jeans, and thriving business are valid goals if they are YOUR goals. However, they do not give you more value as a human being. You are enough simply because you are.

That being said, knowing this truth does not mean you should exempt yourself from ever setting another goal. You do not have to resign from your quest for success, whatever your dream entails. Your journey will continue to shape you and cause you to evolve as a person. But you are now set free from the need to prove to yourself or others that you are worthy. 

Goals are important, but what is most important is what you learn about yourself on the journey.

You can make a mistake, be wounded by someone, or become the wealthiest woman on the planet. Yet not one of these circumstances can reduce or expand your self-worth. Take a moment to let these words sink in – nothing you do or that is done to you can increase or decrease your self-worth. You are enough now and nothing will change that fact.

You ARE enough.

Breathe, Trust, and Most Importantly, Be Kind

As sure as you are alive at this moment, sitting, breathing, and reading this, you are enough. From the moment you were conceived, an intricately crafted seed within your mother’s womb, you were a masterpiece. You are a one-of-a-kind specimen, created with distinctive features, talents, and attributes only you can offer this world. If this is hard to believe, start by understanding that the universe does not make mistakes. 

Just as the law of attraction and the law of gravity are irrefutable, your reason for existence is undeniable. You are a crucial part of the universal equation. Hence, if you believe gravity exists, you must also believe that the universe created you with precision and purpose. 

Next time you hear the familiar soul-sucking voice of condemnation, take a breath, choose to be kind to yourself, and trust the absolute truth that you are enough

You will feel freer, lighter, happier, and when the shit hits the fan, you will bounce back faster and brighter, because you are enough. 

And if you are ready to change careers, go back to work or start your own business, don’t hesitate, because you are enough. Indeed as this article at Power to Fly highlights, you can do pretty much anything you set your mind to, even change your career at any age!

Can Knowing my Strengths Really Help me to live a better life?

Can Knowing my Strengths Really Help me to live a better life?

Can Knowing my Strengths Really Help me to live a better life?

Knowing your strengths gives you insight into how you work and certain tasks come easy, while others rub you the wrong way.

From the perspective of a job search, career planning or even mapping out a career calling, the greatest gift strengths spotting gives you is self-awareness and the ability to craft a value proposition that is attractive to your ideal employer or client.

As an Amazon Associate: I earn from your qualifying purchases. Thank you!

Often times we think of our strengths only from the point of view of our concrete education, skills and experiences. However, our most powerful strengths tend to relate directly back to our natural talents; you may not need a significant amount of skill or training to excel at something that is a natural talent. [Of course, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t put in the effort!]

Your natural strengths illuminate why you end up enjoying certain tasks more than others or why a certain activity might be supper easy whereas it’s a real headache for other folks. Understanding your strengths allows you to leverage them to create a career you love. 

When I leverage my knowledge of strengths to write a resume or LinkedIn profile, my clients often tell me things like: “Reading this is like looking in the mirror!” or “I feel like a new person, confident in what I can do!” 

Insert Awareness Image

Building Awareness from Strengths

In general, knowledge of our natural talents or strengths creates three crucial areas of awareness critical to career success.

PERSPECTIVE

The first is the perspective. Sometimes we have a strength that someone around us sees as a weakness or that they simply don’t understand. From this person’s perspective, often a parent or teacher, you are weird or your “strength” is an anomaly that needs fixing. 

For example, I worked with a client on the autistic spectrum with a strengths in deliberation, analytical and intellection. He’d been underemployed from age 18 to 25 and some people in his past had perceived his ability to focus on solving a problem as extreme — however his dream job was in cybersecurity and he turned out to be the perfect candidate. 

When he got the job, I as the coach got a lot of praise, but the reality is that the client was the perfect fit for his ideal job. What I did is provide him the opportunity to see his personality and interests as strengths and from a new perspective, which gave him the confidence to go after the job he wanted. He went from really feeling down on himself and his potential, to finding a dream career, simply by seeing his talents in a new light. 

Another common mistake that I see clients make is to assume that because a particular strength comes to them so easily — they assume is meaningless or not important. For example, a software engineer that excels at understanding abstract concepts and connecting the dots to create a new solution might not appreciate her skill; however, her peers may have to take multiple steps to grasp an idea she grasped instantaneously. Just because YOU think something is easy, doesn’t mean it’s easy for everyone. And if it is easy for you and you enjoy it — then you need to make this known to your ideal employer! 

Once you know your strengths you can appreciate your uniques combination of talents as a gift, which empowers you to intentionally leverage these to create a life and a career you love!

CONFIDENCE

The ultimate result of seeing our natural talents in a new perspective is the gift of confidence. 

Say you have a strength in strategy. You always see the big picture and come up with solutions, but you doubt your abilities because you think you don’t have enough “experience” or “education” or something else. 

When you read the profile for “strategic” you suddenly see that you’ve got something other people don’t have; this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work on becoming an expert in your field, but it can give you the confidence to speak up for the patterns and the solutions that you see today. 

Recognizing that you are good at something and that you enjoy it is crucial to finding work you love — if you can demonstrate both confidence and joy in what you do — your ideal employer or clients will be knocking down your door to get you. 

Sharing your talents with the world is generous. Keeping it hidden is stingy. 

JOY

Yes. I believe you should enjoy your work. Perspective and confidence work together to deliver you work that you enjoy. And when you enjoy your work you feel joy. Why? Because when you find work that is both appealing to you and that you are good at you can find work that gives you the right mix of “challenge + skill” and this leads to experiencing flow. 

Think about times in your life that you’ve gotten lost in your work or another activity. When you get so engrossed in an activity (not sleep, or Netflix, mind you) that you forget time — this is called flow. And periodic experiences of flow lead to higher rates of satisfaction at work. 

Which brings us back to perspective — sometimes when we have a skilled at a particular line of work it results in promotion after promotion until one day you find yourself in a leadership-seat. 

For some people, this is great, because although they are good engineers or teachers or whatever, they also love to lead, to manage communication and to look at the big picture. 

But for others, it’s awful. 

Earlier this year I worked with a mechanical engineer who’d spent the last three years in management. He was drained and bored. He wanted his old job back and yet every time he applied for a job, he’d get told by the recruiters and hiring managers kept telling him he was “overqualified.” 

My solution? Together we went over his strengths and his goals and we constructed a new professional narrative. His new resume emphasized that he understands how to communicate with and support management, but that he is an engineer at heart. He got a successful bite on his first application with this new resume and in a few months found himself able to move back into a hands-on engineering position that brings him JOY and the opportunity to experience flow. 

He also understands himself better now and so the next time a management position comes knocking, he won’t necessarily feel obliged to take it. He will be prepared to negotiate for a position that fits his strengths and needs. 

UNCOVERING YOUR STRENGTHS 

There are a few different ways to uncover your strengths. I like to use a few different methods with my clients. 

  • Strengths Spotting
  • Strengths Story
  • GallupStrengths 2.0

When used together these three exercises provide a 360 vision of what you are naturally good at, what you enjoy, and what your peers and managers see as your strengths. Together they give you a platform to cultivate the perspective, confidence, and joy discussed in the previous section. 

Strengths 2.0

On the Gallups Strengths Center website they say this: 

“Each CliftonStrengths theme sorts into one of four domains. These domains describe how people and teams use their talents to work with information, make things happen, influence others and build relationships.”

If you’ve taken the [Gallup] CliftonStrengths test before, there is a good chance that you did it at work, because knowing an employee’s strengths has shown to lead to increased workplace engagement.

As an employee, if you know and understand your strengths, you can direct yourself to work in which you readily engage, maintain your motivation, and grow. If your boss or co-workers know your strengths (and their own) you can work together to optimize everyone’s contributions, increase engagement, collaboration and teamwork.

Why is this important:

Positive self-awareness through focusing on our strengths — what we do well — is a huge boost for our self-confidence. We naturally tend to focus on our weaknesses as a guide to what we cannot do or what we should do better. Knowing our natural talents gives us the vocabulary to describe what we do and the inner strength to embrace it.

Let’s use a sailboat analogy: If your professional self as a sailboat, your weaknesses might be compared to small leaks. You need to be aware of fill the leak(s), but if you put all your focus on the leaks, if you forget to put up your sail (your strengths) you’ll never get anywhere!

As is true with our character strengths, needs, and values, skill strengths and values also often overlap. If we value the skill of judgment and consideration, we may very well have strengths in intellection, analytical or strategic. You can think of your Strengths as your way of “doing” and your values as reflective of your way of “being.”

The best way to find our way of “Doing” is to take the Gallup Strengths Finder.

If you can find a hard copy (new) locally, I recommend doing so, as it’s fun and informative to flip through and read the book now and in the future.

You can also order a hard copy or Kindle* edition of Strengths 2.0 on Amazon or at your local book store; don’t buy a used copy as you will want the one-time ACCESS code include in the book to access the test. 

*If you order the Kindle version they will email your access code to the email associated with your Kindle. Make sure to watch your email and request a refund if you don’t receive it in 24-hours or less — it should be sent within a few minutes of your purchase! 

The standard report that comes with your book purchase is all you need to learn from your results. I do not recommend purchasing the more expensive reports as they can be a challenge to interpret without a full coaching session dedicated to the Strengths-Finder. For your purpose and mine, the standard results provide exactly the insight and information we need to tell your story! 

Disclaimer: The above Amazon link is an affiliate link, which means that I will get a portion of the sale. I do not have any other affiliation with Gallup. I use this test because it is informative and highly useful.  

Finding Your Purpose

My Story

My strengths combine together to create an entrepreneurial profile and a mentor or coach profile (surprise!). I am strong on strategy and easily connect the dots, find solutions and understand how to make things better. I am an individualizer and a maximizer. I naturally see what is right and what might be done better. I am strong in communication and discovering a clear understanding of how each individual works. 

In my twenties, I tended to “hop” jobs every 9 to 18 months as I got bored quickly. I’d start out loving a job, but once I’d learned all there was to know, improved a few systems, hired new and better employees, updated training manuals and had everything running smoothly I found myself bored and ready for a new challenge. 

I thought there was something wrong with me. My parents thought I was wishy-washy. 

My parents just wanted me to get a job and stick with it, so they could be confident that I was financially safe and secure. And then I did the Strengths Finder and I realized I needed a job that continued to present me with challenges. I went back to school to work on a master’s degree and got a job as the Executive Director of an International Nonprofit. 

 

That job was amazing. From the day I walked in the door, there were problems to solve, relationships to cultivate and nurture. Every day was new and different. I could have stayed in that job for years, had I not had to make a value-based decision to follow my husband to Europe (I couldn’t take my job with me). 

 

Knowing my strengths and understanding my values has been incredibly powerful because together they give me purpose. Whether it’s working with an NGO or as a career coach, I thrive when I get to help others succeed. Connecting the dots, asking powerful questions, supporting people to find confidence and joy in what they do thrills me. 

In the end, combining my strengths and my values, I am purpose-driven. 

How Can Strengths Help You Tell YOUR Story?

 

Whether you find your life purpose on your own or with the help of a career coach — you will find a deeper meaning in your work. You will feel empowered to choose your path and you will find that many responsibilities in your life now bring you either a greater sense of joy or you find it easier to say “no” to things that do not serve your purpose. 

 

The US Department of Labor has been tracking employee engagement for nearly 20 years and for the last 5 or so, LinkedIn has gotten involved. I won’t bore you with the precise numbers, but what they’ve found is that a good 60 to 80% of employees are not engaged at work. Worldwide Gallup makes the claim that only 13% of employees are engaged — as in 87% might jump ship at any moment for a better opportunity. 

 

And they are not particularly happy — they live for the weekends — and for their life outside work. As someone who has connected my life purpose to my work as a career coach, these results make me sad. However, they also inspire me to help people like you understand how to find and negotiate for a work situation that you love. 

 

Indeed, I find hope in their findings that employers who support employees in leveraging their strengths and job seekers who seek jobs aligned with their strengths fall into the category of ENGAGED and HAPPY employees. 

 

And so, the biggest gift you can give yourself in learning and understanding your strengths is that it can help you turn your job into a career you love and possibly even a calling. If we spend most of our waking hours at work, then we should enjoy and even love our work. 

Life Purpose and Career Coach

 

The connection between knowing our values (read this) and leveraging them alongside our strengths, is a foundational part of why I am a career coach. If you’d asked me at age 20 if I’d be a Career Coach at age 40, I would have laughed. This is because old school career counseling tried to put people in boxes. 

 

For example, it’s possible that towards the end of high school someone asked you to take a career survey that gave you report about possible fields fo work that you might enjoy. 

 

 RIASEC codes or Holland codes were created by a psychologist named John Holland. Supposedly these codes use your personality or psychological profile to tell you what type of job you might enjoy. What they fail to do is to address your values or your strengths. They try to put people in boxes and as a teen, they confused me terribly.

 

My RIASEC is Social Enterprising Investigative (SEI) and I’ve got my old tests in which they said I’d be a good Forest Ranger, Nurse or Attorney.  What? Sure, I love camping and nature, I like to help people and I love a good argument, but every time I tried to throw myself into one of these careers, I came up short. I had ZERO desire.

 

I was also confused by these tests, because the careers that did drive me, didn’t show up on my test (anthropologist, aerospace engineer or urban planner). I ended up studying anthropology and urban planning remains a hobby (in my dream world). 

 

Long story short — if you went to university to study one subject, but ended up in a totally different career or ended up bored, frustrated or un-engaged, don’t give up on career coaching. It’s just likely that you got a career coach who tried to label you. 

 

What I do as a career coach is to help you to understand what makes you tick, so that you can align your goals and career with work that inspires you and then I give you the skills to ask for the salary and benefits you need. 

Career of Life

 

Many career coaches, such as myself, say that we do ‘purpose coaching’ or ‘strengths-coaching.” As you can likely guess by now, this means we use surveys of values, strengths, needs, and interests to help you answer your own career goals. We won’t put you in a box. Frankly, each profession can have a wide variety of psychological profiles, and in fact, it is your strengths profile that dictates your success sometimes more than your “social” profile. 

 

Extroverts and introverts can excel in the same jobs for totally different reasons. The crucial component of your success at work is that what you do brings you personally a sense of meaning and purpose. We are happy at work when we feel useful. When we see that we accomplished something. When we get the opportunity to get lost in the “flow” of the moment. 

 

So, don’t let an old test like the MBTI or the Strong Inventory or your Holland Codes, put you in a BOX. Your life work potential is in your hands and knowing your strengths and your values, what you want and need from your work and your life, is what can bring you confidence and feelings of success. 

 

And so, if you are ready to ditch your fear of failure at work. Or overcome a fear of success (yes, that is a thing) then I invite you to find out about your values and your strengths. To even create a vision board for your ideal life and career. 

 

Insert becoming ou image

BECOMING YOU: Frame it and Claim It

 

As a purpose coach, as a life coach, as a career coach, I invite you to BECOME YOU. Liz Ryan, one of my mentors in the career coaching world says of your work history and your professional narrative “Frame it and claim it.” 

 

What she means is that you are uniquely you and that is what makes you an awesome employee. If you know your strengths and you are confident in your skills, then you can do whatever it is you believe you can do. And when we do things with confidence and joy, when our values are aligned with those of our company or our clients we feel alive. 

 

When we feel alive at work, we do good work. When we love our work, we are motivated to set goals, to achieve, to do more, and to recognize our own success. When this happens we’ve mastered the art of self-awareness, self-compassion, and self-care. We know what we need, what we want and what we can do. 

 

When we make a mistake or fail, we know that at least we tried, and we treat it as a learning experience. All this is part of becoming you. And you are the only person that YOU need to be!

 

Did this article you answers or did it raise questions?

 

Perhaps you are now wondering if you should quit your job or find a new career? 

 

If that’s the case you can take this quiz on Power to Fly. Should I quit my Job? 

 

Or you might read the book “What Color is My Parachute.”

 

Additional Recommended Reading

 

If this article has raised questions that you cannot answer simply by knowing your strengths you may wish to engage a career and human potential coach. Or you might benefit from doing some self-guided coaching and exploration. 

The classic book What Color is Your Parachute is useful for folks at the start of their career and those doing career pivots. It’s recommended reading from many retired military veterans and to those who simply feel “blah” about their current work situation. If you’ve done the work on clarifying your values and your strengths, but you are still unsure what career is right for you, check out this book.