How to Accept Yourself: Promotions, Happiness, and Living in Your Zone of Genius

If you feel like you’ve been toiling away in a dead-end job, you might feel like you’re living your own version of Groundhog’s Day. You do the same things over and over with no change whatsoever. No growth. No progress.

Then the new fiscal year starts and you begin the whole journey again, with an annual review that ends with a dangled carrot. A promise of growth and development that never really comes.


I’ll tell you a personal story...

It was about five years into my retail experience that I figured out that the development promise was just a poster in the back room. Despite the corporate commitment to growth, for a handful of reasons (usually payroll restrictions or personnel limitations), the development was not feasible.

I didn’t blame my employers. I could understand the limitations. I understood that it was a resource issue, not a deliberate attempt to keep me at the same level. But I still wasn’t happy just treading water. I felt like I’d outgrown my job. I wanted to do more.

I have big dreams and I’m an idealist. Staying at the same level my whole life is not an option. I finally came to the realization that if I wanted to move up, I would need to take charge of my own growth. No one cared for my development more than me.

Even after that decision, I would still occasionally bump into a glass ceiling. It was frustrating and disheartening for years until I had my next breakthrough.

Things began shifting in a major way once I stopped pushing and started an attitude of acceptance. And I’m not talking about just accepting the status quo and never making waves. Uh-uh. Not at all.

I’m talking about accepting myself. Learning to create language around how my soft skills interact with the rest of the team and a daily practice of self-appreciation.

When I stopped to learn more about my natural skillsets, soft skills, and figured out how they benefited my team, the entire game changed. This new way of thinking started with honesty, vulnerability, and a spirit of collaboration. Not only has it been a game-changer in my professional image, it has fundamentally shifted my personal life, too.

Take Credit. Stop Qualifying

I have always gotten along with my boss. But after a few years at one particular company, I discovered that I was mistaking pleasant encounters for growth. I thought because I didn’t make waves, showed effort and integrity, that made me a shoo-in for a promotion.

I began to get resentful that I still had basically the same job title 5 years into my career. I started feeling hopeless, stuck, and unappreciated. This came from believing circumstances were outside my control. They were keeping me stuck. They were passing me up for opportunities. They misunderstood me.

Then I came to the realization that I wasn’t progressing because I wasn’t communicating or truthful with my areas of opportunity. I was a young manager in charge of a multi-million brick and mortar and a twenty-five person team. I had adopted the *fake it til you make it* motto. I could have asked more questions, asked for help more often, and owned up when projects weren’t completed. Instead, I kept it quiet when I needed help, leading to my managers being confused and at times, even annoyed.

If I was just honest and reached out for support, they may have understood and helped me grow. But I suffered in silence, and honestly, so did my career.

I should have lead with honesty. That was a huge missed opportunity for me that probably held me back in more ways than one. I also could have used a huge dash more of Honesty when talking about my contributions with my boss. Because my zone of genius is a Soft Skill and I had done little work to understand it, I was not equipped to interpret my results to my boss.

In other words, I was making an impact in the arena of Emotional Intelligence/Interpersonal Relationships, but I never claimed any credit for the successes. I had no idea how to talk about it and besides that, I was far too modest to brag.

What resulted from my lack of communication around my value add was frustrated and fed up bosses that liked me just fine as a person but couldn’t see a future for me with the company. And I took that very personally. At first.

What I am so happy to have learned from that painful experience was that we all need to do work to understand what makes us different, where we really shine, and how we use that every day to make an impact on our teams.

Once we understand it ourselves, we can effectively live in our zone of genius, communicate, and support others generously.

Take Inventory

If you feel misunderstood, overlooked, or taken for granted, you may have a difficult time interpreting your value add to those around you. You may need to improve your Interpreting skills.

Here are the steps to do this effectively:

  1. Take inventory of your skills and contributions. Don’t leave anything out.

  2. Organize them-- do some gather under a larger umbrella?

  3. Correlate your skills to numbers, data, metrics, or team productivity, energy, or morale.

  4. Begin communicating with your boss around your value add. (Many high-efficiency teams have a communication pass-along strategy, so one shift updates the next. Leverage whatever tool your team has in place. If there isn’t one, talk with your boss about implementing one.)

The full tutorial on how to Instantly UpSkill at Work so You Can Move Up or Move On is now available. You can access it here.

NOTE: Communicating with your supervisors around your value add is not a bragging moment or to fuel a monster ego. This is an important step in efficiency and trust. The more team members understand one another, the better they know how to leverage the strengths of the team.

A side-effect of feeling like you’re misunderstood is that you start playing smaller and shrinking into the background. You may find yourself begrudgingly punching the clock, counting seconds until your shift to be over.

Because you don't feel confident you probably also avoid your boss. But once you have a clearer understanding of how your unique wheelhouse impacts the team, you start being present, have focused energy, and contributing comes naturally.

You must start taking credit and stop qualifying your accomplishments.

Download the Soft Skill Translator and learn how they impact you and others.

Honor Who You Are

This is where the magic happens. The more you learn about yourself and how you impact those around you, the more confident you become. I have found that as an added bonus to doing this work.

You become magnetic and charismatic, charming and productive.

Honoring who you are means that you show up in bigger ways, you contribute more and at a higher level. It also means that you acknowledge and honor your areas of opportunity.