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“…And the Winner is…YOU!”





Oscar season is among us and yay! I, for one, LOVE the Oscars. Not just the fashion and after-party stories, but the actual movies and ceremony. I rarely have time to watch a ton of movies throughout most of the year (Too Hot to Handle repeats are much more my speed). But I genuinely enjoy Oscar-baity films and performances. Every year, right around November or December, I follow websites like goldderby.com and the Hollywood Reporter to see who is moving up in the ranks (or down), and who (or which film) has the best chance to take home the little gold statue. Who are the dark horses and sure things? Possibly, even weirder: I actually like the movies no one has ever heard of, let alone seen. Power of the Dog? The Lost Daughter? tick…tick…BOOM!? Seen and loved them all. You might be interested to know that when entertainment experts talk about the Oscar race, what they are really referring to is a week’s long, intense, no-holds barred competition. When a person’s name or project is called out on that Sunday night, it usually doesn’t happen by chance. The fate of some past Oscar winners has been determined because of many back-room meetings. Or, how often they show up at countless rubber chicken dinners. Oh, and don’t forget the hand shaking, networking and well-rehearsed elevator speeches. Not so glitzy, huh? Stars! They really are like just us. It’s called campaigning. And like any other campaign, efforts to secure an Oscar can be just as high-profile and organized as a political one. In addition to attending strategic meetings or being seen at pre-planned public outings, entertainers will rally others to support their candidacy. The more the ask feels subtle, the more successful. In other words, they work really hard to try to make it look like they are not actually campaigning. To be sure, there’s definitely an art to it. Them, their managers, and teams are trying to walk a fine line between being earnest about their ambitions and the beliefs in a project or performance, while working to make sure they are not viewed as trying too hard. But make no mistake, they all want it. The Oscar can be the pinnacle of their careers and life’s work. It can change the trajectory of their lives. Their per picture ask (i.e., all about the money, honey) usually increases with a nomination, and most certainly after a win. The quality of scripts they are offered tend to improve. The projects they can get attached to get better. And they are vaulted into history with the other entertainment greats of the past and present. So regardless of their outward posturing, don’t think for a minute that each nominee isn’t going to check the box next to their own names when it’s time for them to vote.

For most of us, receiving an award can be kinda cool. I guess there are some people who hate them. I am not one of them (Aries says what?). For example, I remember when I graduated from sixth grade and they gave kids certificates and awards for things like, “Best Newspaper Article,” (Shout out to the Pebble Press) or “Terrific Teacher’s Helper.” My classmates and I were so proud of receiving these achievements. I know for me personally, I felt like they helped me gain confidence in areas where I didn’t even know people were watching. And I certainly, didn’t know I was even “up” for these awards. It feels good to be noticed in a positive way. Acknowledgement matters. We all work so hard and are unsung heroes in so many aspects of our lives. According to a recent article I read on Bloomberg News, experts predict that in 2022 wages will (finally) rise, but not enough to offset inflation (i.e., we may not feel any relief in our wallets). I little horn-tooting can offset some of those under-appreciated feelings. Waiting for our 4th grade reading teacher to give us that a prize ribbon is futile. Maybe we should shine the spotlight on ourselves.

While it’s equally true that it feels good to be recognized for our work and efforts, I am no stranger to the fact that receiving the aforementioned recognition can also be, extremely anxiety producing. I mean, there are so many pitfalls to gaining attention. For example, what if you were to win ‘Salesperson of the Year,’ and but then your boss and colleagues just expect you to keep producing at some unattainable level? Additionally, it might be ego crushing if one was to receive a ‘best of’ prize one year and then not get it the next. Add to that those pesky feelings of self-doubt and worries of worthiness. What if deep down, we don’t believe we deserved the award? We might feel like a phony or a fraud. Who needs that? After all, we worked really closely with, let’s say, Jimmy in our business department, and it was obvious to everyone that he totally knocked his sales numbers out of the park. Maybe he should have won. And he wanted the award. He told us! Ugh, it would be so much better if they gave the award to someone else. It’s exhausting. Therefore, it’s not uncommon for us to just not try. Stay in our lanes. Head down. Keep moving forward. Living a good life is supposed to be life’s best revenge, right? Who needs those troublesome accolades?

The American culture has taught us to be humble and value that modesty in others. That message can be shouted even louder along traditional gender lines. We are a country of people that are supposed to take pride in ourselves for a quiet, inner strength and determination. Part of learning more about ourselves, means accepting our flaws. Yes – that’s true. But I think it’s high time we shed the American ideal of humble pie until we die, and start playing up our positive traits. We are not all one big pile of mistakes and undesirable characteristics. We ARE good at sales, darn it! Or writing. Or speaking. Or event organizing. Everyone has a gift. Recently, a group of some friends and I were talking about a local educator that we all agreed should be nominated for ‘Teacher of the Year’ in our county. We all think she is fantastic. We’re in awe of her work ethic and the empathy she exhibits when working with students. And then…the conversation tapered off. Did any of us organize to get the ball rolling and organize the logistics required to actually submit an application on behalf of this professional? Who knows? I can’t confirm on behalf of the others. The reality is that there are probably many people that exist on the fringes of our life that are privately cheerleading us on the sidelines. Yet, we are all busy, distracted and knee deep in our own lives. Carving out time to give those in our lives the props they deserve, falls somewhere between 23 and 24 on our list of 26 things we need to complete in a day. Sad, but true.

I would like to propose a (maybe) radical solution. Why not nominate yourself for things?! Seriously. I know what you’re thinking. Okay, I don’t totally know. But you are probably mulling this over and have determined that this is one of the more ‘out-there’ ideas you’ve heard. You might be replaying some version of this dialogue in your head. Like, how is an award special if I volunteer myself for it? I want others to recognize me and my achievements. If I were to go ahead with this, there’s no way I won’t feel like an egotistical jerk. Besides, if I do “win,” it would be embarrassing. I could be taking the award from another more deserving individual – like Jimmy from sales! Humor me for a minute. No one really knows “us” better than we know ourselves. Right? So, by taking a chance and throwing our hat in the ring, we may end up with a well-deserved recognition from our colleagues, peers, neighbors or friends after all. There are probably not many Oscar award winners (or their handlers) that regret the time they sat through countless promo events, dinners and hand shaking, in order to emerge as the victor in their category. And that’s because they understand that the accolade validates the commitment and sacrifices they’ve made to their craft. Talking themselves up (or their project) is not only good practice, it is the ultimate investment in themselves. Might there be a company or professional recognition that you think it could be cool to receive? What about a hobby or passion project that you secretly (or not so secretly) know you have some skills at? What about your volunteer work? My point is that there is likely an honor that would not only look good on your resume, it’d give you some pretty cool bragging rights too. Not only that, but there is an excellent chance that an acknowledgement would feel pretty good as well. Expending energy to value yourself will never be a waste.

If there is one thing I have learned in recent months, it’s that while the strong do survive, there is a low return on investment from society when you are strong and silent about it. Think about it: the expectation for the more resilient among us is that we (especially women during the pandemic) are supposed to keep going, working, multitasking, giving, helping, spreading ourselves thin, losing sleep, putting our needs and our health last, all so we can wake up and do it all over again tomorrow. If you slip a bit, instead of offer helping, those around us wonder what’s wrong. After all, they aren’t used to seeing us at less than 150%. We are encouraged to walk it off, drink a Red Bull (do they even still make those?), and get back on that horse. But I believe we value the wrong things most times and it’s annoying to constantly see those on a bad track, get rewarded just because they know how to game the system. Why not turn the tide? Each of us possess a trait, talent or skill that we rock, and it’s time we accept the fact that we ARE deserving. All of us are good, maybe even great, at something. Maybe it’s a hidden talent, a strong work ethic, excellent organizational skills, or some project management abilities that deserve to have a spotlight shined on them. I would even argue this is even more important for those of us that are currently unemployed by choice or circumstance. Because the hustlers in this group probably give even more to so many, and are reliably and consistently counted on to be the glue that holds our families and communities together. Why couldn’t you be ‘Oregonian of the Year’ or ‘Best Shelter Furry Friend’? That’s right, there is no reason. You do more than you think you do and should start reframing your accomplishments in that way.

Back to the above mentioned ‘Debbie Downer’ voice in your head telling you to wait for someone else to notice you and your efforts. Just let you inner Debbie know this: all of those private thoughts and nagging insecurities aren’t actually based on facts. These are the ‘pull-yourself-from-your-bootstraps’ ingrained beliefs that we’ve received consciously and subconsciously over the years. In actuality, we tell ourselves these things in order to keep us on the hamster wheel of hard work, while hoping that the hard work, in and of itself, will be fulfilling enough for us to keep going. Let’s clear a few things up, shall we? Number 1: Recognitions of any kind are typically given out based on clearly defined metrics and debated on by knowledgeable members of a committee. Therefore…pssst! - it really doesn’t matter who nominates whom. At the end of the day, the honor is still decided based on merit, talent, skill, sales, tastiest cake recipe, or whatever. Your work, any unsung hero efforts, the times you’ve gone above and beyond while off the clock, important volunteer work you engaged in, etc. will be measured against similar achievements of other deserving individuals. Besides, who knows? The others up for consideration may have nominated themselves too {wink}. Which leads me to…


Number 2: There is no reason to be embarrassed. Most award recipients are not asked who nominated them. Why? Because it essentially doesn’t matter. There’s nothing to feel ashamed about. If you win, you can rest assured that you earned it. As mentioned under #1, it’s not uncommon for people to select themselves for an honor. It happens all the time. In fact, most entry instructions include language confirm this very commonly accepted aspect of the process. In other words, should you decide to enter a submission on behalf of yourself, that act will not be weighted as a negative (or positive) factor when determining if, or whether or not the honor is ultimately bestowed. In other words, you won’t be penalized should you decide to tap yourself for consideration.


Number 3: If you don’t win, what’s the harm? {crickets…} That’s right, there isn’t any. So, what? You tried and it didn’t work out. Big deal, life goes on. Again, no one even has to know you took the shot if you don’t want them to. As you know from other blog posts and content here, I am all about learning how to be braver, and I personally think an exercise like this one is an easy lay-up we can try to help strengthen our mettle muscle. It’s a way to be a bit gutsy, but with the pressure off. Even better? After the process, you’ll learned more about yourself, practiced answering that could serve us well later, and have gotten through a hurdle and will likely feel even more prepared for an unexpected test in the future.


Like it or not, as we get older it can be more difficult to get noticed. But our experiences make us more seasoned. We likely have a ton of acquired wisdom and achieved pretty important things. It’s vital to make sure that even while we are on our crazy-life hamster wheel, we make it a point to always be thinking and plotting the next steps of our professional and personal development. Take charge of your life and career. Make no mistake: no one else will prioritize you with the same amount of care you need and deserve. Even more true, often our organizational leadership can be…lacking. We trust and rely on the fact that they will be honest partners, and that they are all in to help us grow and learn. The reality is often very different. Most supervisors landed their positions due to their institutional knowledge or degree. Ideally, a good manager should feel like more of a mentor to us. Maybe you’ve heard of the Great Resignation of 2021? There have been numerous studies that help explain why so many of us are throwing up deuces and walking out the door. One of the main reasons an employee quits a job is because of a bad boss. According to Inc.com, 63% of workers that are looking to leave their job within the next 12 months, are solely thinking of doing so because their manager lacked the appropriate levels of expertise. In other words, the well-known saying is true: people quit bosses, not jobs.


My point is that we may not be able to rely on our supervisors, or others that we think that know us best, to support us in our development and help us think about the answer to the question, “where do we see yourself in the next 5 years?” However, while it is important to remain confident in yourself in the aspects of your career it can be difficult when there’s a lack of vision from leadership in our organizations. Likewise, even if you are not employed in a traditional sense, you never know what is around the corner for you and your family. A bonus of this exercise? Kids get to see their parents as more than ‘Mom’ or ‘Dad.’ In case you forgot, you are also a human being. You have aspirations, dreams and desires that are important and meaningful too. It good for them to see us try and succeed. Or try and fail. Valuable lessons can be learned and communicated (i.e., think of it as a good parenting practice). They might also learn firsthand how awesome it is to have belief in yourself (just don’t expect them to, like, tell you how cool it is). And isn’t this what we want - strong, capable and confident individuals that are leading the charge for future generations? We’re all familiar with social media and other ‘hey look at me,’ aspects of today’s world. So why not shine a spotlight for a meaningful reason? I am not saying it will be easy or feel super comfortable at first to pick up that bullhorn to open yourself up and let others know about your talents. But waiting for the empathic, all knowing, unicorn manager to do it for you could be a fool’s errand. Again, there is really no downside to taking that shot yourself. I am totally here for it. Just remember to name check forwardBravely in your acceptance speech.


- "We're In This Together"

Robin

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