When my daughter started at University I can remember having a conversation with her about how I thought it would suit her because she enjoys working on her own and seems to have no trouble in motivating herself to get her work done.
She is less good at proactively emptying the dishwasher.
What causes her more trouble than anything else is acknowledging her own abilities.
She’s learning to drive at the moment and, from what I can gather, her instructor is impressed with her progress and constantly tells her to have a bit more confidence in what she’s doing.
After a lesson last week she sent me a text,
“I stalled the car three time trying to get out of a junction on a hill today and then nearly ran over a pigeon”
“Hope the pigeon was OK. Other than that drama, how did it go?”
“Sarah said my clutch control is always perfect and then I panic. I saved the pigeon’s life. It was really good”.
I wondered why she’d left the last bit out of her original text.
I can remember telling a colleague of mine once when I worked in the corporate world that I wondered sometimes if I was worth my salary. At that point in my life, I hadn’t realised that sometimes we cease to be valued for what we can do and instead are worth a lot more for what we are able to think.
Several times recently I have had conversations with people who are struggling with some sort of “imposter syndrome” having lost sight of their own unique skills and appearing to believe that everyone else knows as much about what they know as they do.
Compared with the rest of the population it usually doesn’t take all that much to be a relative expert.
But there’s something else which compromises our belief in our own ability even further and that is the link we make between value and achievement.
We hold on for dear life to the skills we have and the things we think that we know because we believe that they in some way make us more valuable human beings. They don’t.
I am not more valuable than you on the basis that I may know something that you don’t. Of course, just writing this doesn’t make everyone believe it, but what if we all did believe it? What if we truly knew that our value as human beings could never go up and could never go down? Imagine the freedom that would give us to just try and do the best we could without fear of failure or demand for success.
Later in the week, my daughter was revising for exams so I sent her a message to see how she was getting on’
“How’s the revising going?”
“Not great. I’m not remembering much.”
“Oh dear. Sorry about that. Is there anything I can do to help?”
“Not really. I just need to remember not to stress because other people are a lot more stupid than me.”