Are you enough?

Josie, who had been searching for her next position for over a year was offered a job on Friday, making July 16 a day of celebration! Over 50, the longer her search went on, the more certain she was that she wasn’t enough…young enough, credentialed enough, talented enough, experienced enough, competitive enough, healthy enough, worthy enough…etc. etc.

Note that last enough: “worthy enough.” While you–especially if you’re in the job-hunt, too–may not say this aloud, feeling “worthy enough” is almost sure to be part of your self-talk. Because, if you really were worthy enough (you figure), they would have recognized it and not let you go; or they would have hired you by now.

Backward thinking, hurtful thinking and harmful thinking.

The voice in your head that tells you that you’re “not enough ___” (fill in the blank) is your ego talking. And your ego has been collecting “here’s the right/good/appropriate way to do things” your whole life. It’s there and collecting “how you must be” so that you fit in to your environments, and into society’s expectations. After all, can’t have a school full of children who don’t raise their hands now, can we? On the assembly line, we couldn’t afford to have workers who were creative cogs now, could we? Or people who didn’t work inside their cubicles because, obviously, no work is getting done!

So, the voice in your head collects stuff in an effort to have you fit in and to make sense of things. Now, get this: since your mind has collected these things over years–from others’ comments, statements and actions–your ego is really OPE: Other People’s Expectations. The ego is a reflection of what you believe others want you to be, and all of the experiences you have collected through life as they fit into those expectations. As humans, we like comfort and what we know (we think) is better than what we don’t!

So consider my client who searched for almost a year. Her self-talk about finding a job comes from her job-search experience over the last 20 or so years.

So, Josie, people who are valuable are hired quickly. Well, actually, they don’t lose their jobs in the first place. So, you must not be valuable since it’s taking so long. Your last manager must have said something bad about you. You knew you couldn’t trust her. You shouldn’t have put her name on that employment form. And, you should have submitted your resume faster. You aren’t the spring chicken you used to be–they probably think you’re too old. Your experience gives you away, you know. If you ever get an interview (and you really screwed up that last telephone interview), they’ll ask you about your last two positions that were less than two years each. Even though they were cutting staff, if you were any good you’d still be in those jobs. In fact, remember that article you read only a few weeks ago: hiring managers don’t even want to interview people who are unemployed because they think you have a performance problem. So they are probably right–you do.


So how do you get to being “enough”?

1. Recognize that self-talk is not usually based on fact, or at least the facts of current reality. So the assumptions and beliefs that are driving our thoughts are likely old or outdated.

2. Practice stopping your automatic thinking, the self-talk that is negative. When you catch yourself doing the “not enough” thinking, say to yourself: “I know that’s not true because…” and complete the sentence with as many answers as you can. Even one answer shows you that your initial thinking, the negative self-talk, is only an assumption and not necessarily true.

Since how we think has a direct connection to what we do, it’s worth learning to work around your ego to get to a place where you will be effective–in your job search or any other situation where you want to move forward.

Self-talk keeps us stuck and ego keeps us small. Be intentional about your thinking and step into being enough. I guarantee you’ll like it there.

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6 Responses

  1. What would be really helpful to all the ‘Josie’s’ out there would be some more positive or affirming articles about people like her actually finding jobs.
    We’ve got an entire political party calling the unemployed spoiled bums, hobo’s, possible drug addicts, lazy, etc. – and then there’s the unending stories about 5 to 20 applicants for every open position.
    An article like http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/13/frustrated-unemployed-wom_n_644834.html (Interviews are like seeking Unicorns)that garnered over 2,000 comments. Those comments were sobering – story after story after story of educated, hard working, people (lots and lots in their 50’s) who’ve done all the right things, sending out upwards of 1500 resumes over 1 – 1-1/2 – 2 years with no response.
    If they’re out there, let’s start hearing the stories of those who are succeeding – how they did it, how long it took. If all we are seeing and hearing is simply affirming all those negative thoughts, maybe they aren’t negative thoughts but reality???

  2. Great suggestion, Marie–we don’t hear–nearly often enough–about people who have succeeded in this changing market.
    Maybe that’s my next post…and, maybe people reading this will post their success!

    That aside, I think people think themselves “not enough” because they are using outdated measures. What I did to get a job ten years ago won’t work today. Fear drives us to where we’re comfortable, and the easiest place to go is to the voice inside our head that puts the blame squarely on us. I’m saying it is our actions or lack of them, not our age or things out of our control, that keep us stuck.

    For example, this thing called “networking” wasn’t something working people thought they needed to do. As long as we worked hard, the organization took care of us. We were connected internally–vertically. Our networks today need to be broad and need to develop over time so they are relationships, not just names on business cards. Even in the face of statistics that continue to say 70% of all positions are found through someone you know (in your network), people will spend 80% plus of their time responding to position openings listed on websites. It’s the negative voice that says–stay comfortable–that gets in the way of the actions that will get to openings not yet published.

    We listen to the negative voice that keeps us trapped in how things used to be, and what used to work. Yes, the openings are fewer, the competition is steeper, positions require skills that are new or upgraded and experience doesn’t count for what it once did. Aligning actions with this reality by aligning our thoughts first is what will create success in today’s market.

  3. I would have to say that the vast majority of people who work for a living are friends with people who work with them or do like things. As a result, when the company you work for downsizes or outsources an organization or division – or just flat out falls apart, your ‘network’ is people who are in a similar boat.

    A persons network may extend into their community – neighbors, people associated with their children, a shared hobby, etc. but only a tiny percentage of those people are going to be willing to extend themselves to assist you when you’re job seeking.

    In a lot of cases it’s similar to any bad thing that befalls a person – you suddenly find out who your real friends are. There are people out there who deem job loss and illness and divorce as something so uncomfortable that they retreat. There’s another – more legitimate – position some people take and that’s the position that they don’t really know your ‘work’ enough to recommend you within the company for which they work. That’s valid – you may be a great person in the neighborhood or church or the local charity event but if someone doesn’t really know what you did in your previous job, what kind of employee (or career owner) you are it could be difficult for them to refer you to someone within their business.

    So what, really, is effective networking?

  4. Effective networking is broadening your “net” of relationships before you need it…and that’s the rub.

    We do have a tendency to isolate ourselves, especially inside whatever organization takes 8-10+ hours of every day. But a true business network is cultivated through select events and groups that provide opportunities to have a business relationship with like-minded people.

    My experience is that I have met any number of people who will refer me or hand-deliver something after we’ve known each other for awhile, after we’ve worked together at professional events, volunteered for a charity or completed community service. These are the people who are in my business network. I’ll keep in touch via phone, email and an occasional lunch or meeting and they do the same. We learn each others’ values and work capabilities over a period of time by connecting in various ways.

    That’s how I would describe an effective network–one that is built and maintained for mutual benefit and cultivated intentionally over time.

  5. Great post, Janine. Thank you.
    Our ego keeps us small and we are loosing the ability to see ourselves with love.

  6. You are so right, Justyna–our egos are our own worst enemies! Thanks for commenting…it’s so good to hear from you!

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