At an event I recently attended, the program speaker, who was from ComedySportz, asked the audience to pair up with someone else at their table and ask, “What's NOT wrong with your life?" Once the partner responded, the questioner was told to repeat the question over and over after each answer was given. This went on for about 30 seconds, and then we reversed roles. Nervous tittering trickled across the room. It was an unusual question aimed at provoking thought. Personally, I found this exercise incredibly difficult…my brain struggled to provide a new answer, and the funny thing is, I consider myself a positive person, and try not to dwell on the negatives. I have lots of things to be happy about. But why was this question so tough? Most of us could probably tick off (without batting an eye) a list of things you wished you could fix such as: need to clean house more often, lose weight, take that class you never have time for, or find that right person to date. But why is it so easy to rattle off the bad things but when it comes to quickly pinpointing the positives, we are reluctant to mention them? Credit our parents. “Be modest" was drilled into our heads. “Don't boast" is another social rule we've been taught. These are all admirable etiquette tips to follow, but have we also lost something else along the way? Are we afraid to be centered and happy about our accomplishments? One of the biggest concerns I hear from clients is they are wary about claiming any kind of positive contribution at their employer when detailing their accomplishments on their résumé. There is a fine line between being a braggart (ME! ME! ME!) and someone who has positively contributed to society, community, or business. Oftentimes during résumé consultations, someone will tell me, “I haven't really done anything." – which tells me they haven't been able to embrace the value that they have contributed to an organization. Wrong. Everyone contributes something. Case in point: Who is the most important PAID person in any company? (HINT: It's not the CEO) Give up? It's anyone who has the first point of contact with a customer. Without customers, the company is dead in the water. So while the CEO may get paid more, the person on the front line is actually holding the future of the company in the palm of their hand by how they interact with the customer. That's a positive contribution. An important career management tip for everyone (myself included) is to take a deep breath, do an inventory on your positive contributions, and accept being centered on those things without being ashamed. You aren't boasting. You're simply balancing the negatives with positives. Similarly, you need to be in the moment to celebrate the things that aren't wrong with your life. Remembering and cherishing those positive things will help you get through the bad times and give you sustenance to make it out to the other side. Be connected and celebrate the things that are going right…it's okay, and it will help make your life more fulfilling. And believe me, I am thinking a lot about my experience so I can also be in the moment with the things NOT wrong in my life! [This article was originally posted on an earlier date] Dawn Rasmussen is the chief resume designer and president of Pathfinder Writing and Career Services.
August 13, 2011