Accepting a Very Prestigious Award is hard
My first thought when I get a Very Prestigious Award is “it can’t be that prestigious if they gave it to me.”
Then I hide the award on my shelf and never tell anyone about it.
I know I’m not unique in this. It’s not about being unusually humble or impressively non-braggy.
I don’t see this as a virtue. My inner critic—or maybe my inner cynic—is taking over in these moments, and it’s an impediment to my own success.
This week’s Very Prestigious Award: The BookFest
It wasn’t First Place. And it wasn’t Nobel, or Pulitzer, or the National Book Award.
So, should I even feel good about it?
And should I tell anyone about it?
As uncomfortable as this feels, I am saying yes.
I spent a bunch of time on Sunday trying to prove to myself that this Very Prestigious Award is, in fact, very prestigious.
Google’s Bard tells me it is: Bard says that only 5% to 10% of all books entered in this competition receive any award at all. There’s an independent panel of judges. The BookFest event features a plethora of legit speakers and enjoys the sponsorship of many companies.
So, yes. It’s prestigious. Probably. Bard has given me questionable statistics before.
But! I am choosing to feel good about it. I am choosing to tell people about it.
Questioning every success
I did the same thing when two of my poems were selected for publication in an anthology a few months ago.
My first thought was that there couldn’t have been very many entries.
When I found out that more than 150 writers submitted over 800 entries, my inner cynic sat down and shut up, at least for a little bit.
Then I saw the finished book and heard a number of the authors read their work at the launch party. I knew my work was in good company.
When several of those authors made a point of finding me after the reading to say how much they enjoyed my poems, I was finally able to believe.
Wanting to succeed on merit, not bluster
Many of you may be shocked to hear that self-promotion is not in my primary comfort zone.
On the outside, I seem confident, outgoing… even extroverted. A lot of my social media videos and posts are playful and authentic, showing off who I am rather than who I think the world wants me to be.
Still, every time I click “publish” on a post or video, I worry that I’ll look profoundly foolish. I have to actively choose to lean into the vulnerability that comes along with stepping out.
It’s never easy, though it has gotten easier over the years.
I know I’m not the only person who feels this vulnerability. A lot of people I know—fellow coaches, clients, friends, colleagues—are profoundly uncomfortable with self-promotion.
There may be many different reasons for that. But the end result is the same: tremendously competent people go unnoticed amid the noise of hyper-visible self-promoters.
In candid conversations, the lament is common: “I want to succeed on my merits, not on my bluster. I want people to choose me for my quality, not my self-confidence.”
In the end there’s just one opinion that truly matters
Unfortunately, in a world driven by social media, consumerism, and celebrity, people prefer to purchase self-confidence. Whether or not there’s competence to back it up seems far less important.
And for those of us who prefer quiet substance, and who prefer to prove ourselves through our work, the self-promotion game feels distasteful. We feel tarnished even stepping into it.
Which is why, I think, I worry about the legitimacy of every Very Prestigious Award I receive.
Did my work actually rise above? Did I receive the award on merit?
If I can’t definitively prove that’s the case, I am very reluctant to talk about it.
But here’s the truth I often forget when seeking the approval of others: Even if my Very Prestigious Award is little more than a participation trophy, the only real opinion that matters in the end is my own.
Am I proud of together? You bet I am.
Am I excited to be working on its sequel? Hell, yes.
Do I look forward to publishing a new book focused on helping people deal with compassion fatigue? I am excited about it every day.
(I’m looking for additional authors to participate. So click through and check it out!)
And I know that Antoinette and I will put together another fantastic product.
It may even win a Very Prestigious Award.
But even if it doesn’t, we know we will be proud of what we produce because we’ll put everything we have into it.
And that’s what truly matters.
Join us Sunday for our book signing!
Antoinette and I will be signing copies of together this Sunday. Please stop by and say hello even if you have no intention of ever buying the book! We’ll also have copies of our 2024 calendar on hand.
WHEN: October 29, 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.
I can help.
I work with top executives and middle managers to improve their leadership skills, their workplace culture, and the effectiveness of their teams. Also, I help individuals identify and achieve their personal goals. Would you like to become more aware, be more effective, be more empowered, and feel fully prepared for your next steps?
You can help.
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