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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Remembering Success

Sometimes, we have a run of days or weeks where we aren't at our best at work. Perhaps layoff rumors are getting us down. Maybe the new boss is a jerk. Maybe the new position you worked for years to get is far more difficult than you expected. In any case, how do you rise up and return to success?

Marshall Goldsmith wrote a piece in Business Week titled, "Self-Confidence and Success." In the piece, he highlights how remembering past successes helps to build self-confidence.

Goldsmith discusses how we build "highlight reels" in our memory. When we are really dragging, we pull that reel out and it gives us a boost.

He cites the following examples: "It might be those five minutes in the executive meeting when you had the floor and nailed the argument you wanted to make. (Who wouldn't run that highlight reel in their head as if it were the Sports Center Play of the Day?) It might be your skillfully crafted memo that the CEO praised and routed to everyone in the company."

However, as we tend to remember only the good things, we also need to keep an honest view of ourselves. In group settings, Wilson points out that most overestimate their contribution. Additionally, we also tend to view ourselves better than our peers. This can be very difficult during review periods when we think we deserve top marks, but in reality, we may only be in the middle of the pack.

Wilson provides an excellent piece of parting advice, "Complete this sentence, "I am success because of…," Then complete this sentence, "I am a success in spite of…." By acknowledging our weaknesses, it makes received negative feedback just a little easier.

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