On my way to work this morning, I found myself behind a truck as I tried to ease my way onto the LIE. In a large sign on the back of the truck were the words “If you can’t see my mirrors, I can’t see you”. I’ve probably seen this sign thousand of times, but this morning, it struck my a little differently. As those who are familiar with how my mind works, I often process the world through metaphors (or, as one friend likes to call them, “Christaphors”). Suddenly, this matter of fact phrase of caution took on a different meaning as I started to think about how it applied to work…and my latest blog post was born.
Of course, if you could see the inner workings of my blog, you’d notice quite a few unfinished posts just sitting there waiting to be returned to. It was entirely possible that the same fate would have fallen upon this post as well…that is until later in the day I saw (and shared) this article from Fast Company on Mastering the Art of Self-Promotion and the timing was just too perfect. For those who have read my blog or interacted with me on a semi-regular basis, you know one of the areas I have recognized I need to work on is the idea of being my own “PR person”. I am a great supporter of others, and I find any opportunity I can to share the work and accomplishments of the people in my circles. Unfortunately, I do quite the opposite with my own achievements.
Watching others who seemingly have no hesitation “tooting their own horn” has always made me uncomfortable. I’d like to pretend that’s because of some sense of noble humility, but my level of self-awareness pushes me to admit it’s more because I have such a difficult time doing it myself. I could write a novel when asked to author a letter of recommendation, but I labor to put together a short paragraph to document my own work. It hasn’t been until recently that I have been able to recognize that self-advocacy is as important a professional skill as budgeting, resource management, or supervision.
“If you can’t see my mirrors, I can’t see you”. If we aren’t making ourselves known to others, how do we expect them to see us? Too often we can get caught playing the martyr…pining over how we are never noticed and our work isn’t appreciated. But what have we done to make our work known? How are we sharing our accomplishments and touting our achievements? When your office is holding a program or event, make sure you’re the one doing the inviting. When you have the stage, own it – use it to your full advantage. When someone in your office does something noteworthy – share it! You can still make sure people get the credit they deserve while also reminding people of your connection to the individual or the work that has been done.
We cannot always take for granted that our good work will be enough to get us noticed. We need to be comfortable with saying “this is what I’ve done, I want you to know about it, and I’m proud of it”. We cannot assume that at some point we’ll be spotted in the rearview mirror. Locate the mirror, see yourself in it, and smile and wave. Because, remember, objects in the mirror may appear closer than they are…