Whenever I imagine a new job at a company I have never worked with, I start to think about the type of person who would get a job at that place. How does that person act? What are their values? What kind of past experience and decisions did they make that got them where they are going?
Then I start comparing that to my personal experience and seeing if I could fit in to that culture. If the picture in my head of the “ideal” employee doesn’t fit the picture I have of myself, it makes it seem like I could never get a job at that place.
And maybe I’m right.
But lately a new approach has been coming to mind. I’ve started to imagine how I could change that company for the better. So if before I imagined a job at google, I might picture an engineer who has been a good student their entire life, who always works hard, and who always gets the job done. Kudos to google first and foremost for giving that impression.
When I look at that and compare it to my own path, I could never live up to those ideals. I start projects and never finish them. I was a good student but never the best and in all honesty, I don’t always work that hard. Most of this stems from a lack of passion for a specific thing. I’ve always been a jack of all trades, master of none kind of guy. Usually because I find I get to a point where learning more about a given subject interests me less than the amount of work needed to get there.
In my old style of thinking, this would 100% exclude me from every getting a job at google. To be clear, I do not currently have a job or am I in the process of applying for one at this time.
Now, I try and think about the things I could bring to the table. Maybe I’m not a person who always finishes projects, but I am always willing to try new things. I’m a great leader and a great member of a team because of this. My passion may not be defined, but my willingness to try can inspire others to do the same. And maybe inspiring others to try will them find their own passions and lead them to great things.
There is no guarantee that my new method of thinking will pay off, but it does make me feel better about who I am and what I have accomplished and still can accomplish in my life. There is no need for me to be what I imagine someone else is thinking I should be. Even typing that is a confusing mess. What I can do is focus on my skills and what I can bring to the table.
You can apply this thinking to everything in life, including relationships, parenting, hobbies, whatever. If you think you might want to join a board game group but are afraid to speak about it because you don’t fit the typical “board game geek” persona that you’ve built up in your mind. Remember that you are a person who has experience that the group may find interesting. And if they don’t there are other groups that will.
In a relationship, you don’t need to become who you think your partner wants you to be. But you do need to bring yourself to the table. You need to be willing to show who you are to that person.
Most people are scared. They are worried about looking stupid or making mistakes. I’m constantly worried about it. Even while writing these blogs I fear that someone I know will come across them and say, oh wow, this isn’t who I thought you were and that will be the end of a relationship. But what I’m starting to learn, finally, is that if they don’t know who I am that is my fault for not being willing to show it. It’s my own lack of pride in myself that keeps others from getting to know me.