So, here’s the thing.
In an effort to appear calm and confident…
In an attempt to be kinda cool…
In adopting the detached pose of the uber-jaded…
Some have decided that the only way to succeed at work is to never let anyone see you sweat. As if the tag line to an ’80s commercial was the Golden Rule.
And I can understand where this comes from. Really. Chickens with their heads cut off rarely engender confidence.
If what you’re doing looks effortless and – poof! – produced just as easy as that… when, in point of fact, you have been working 16 hours a day for 10 days with 75 people on your team in order to produce that singular, flawless product…there’s a disconnect there.
And bystanders and bosses might think, “Hey, what she’s doing is not that hard. Any idiot can do it.”
And you don’t get the raise.
Or the bonus.
Or the contract.
And I know this how? Because it’s happened to me. Fairly recently.
I was asked to provide a proposal for something I do very well. I created a crackerjack plan, and priced it accordingly. And was told, “It’s not that much work. We’ll pay you half.”
Honey, it was every bit as much work as I proposed. Maybe even more. But, see – when I have done this work in the past, I have made it look easy. Too easy. So people think it’s no big thing. And not worth paying for, because it’s…no big thing.[In case you’re wondering, I turned down the opportunity to work for half-price, thank you very much.]
When I coach clients who are starting their own businesses – especially coaches and consultants – self-underpricing, self-undervaluing is a real Achilles heel. Especially for women. We want to look cool, calm and collected. We want to look professional. Maybe we hold a position no woman has ever held before. Or we feel weird about money.
So we say, “Sure, I can produce that for you,” even though we know it will take a miracle, two fortuitous accidents and some pixie dust to pull it off. And with any luck (we cross our fingers) we’ll break even.
But, never, under any circumstances, will we let the client know how hard it was to do.
Which means they may not pay the value of the solution you offer. Or balk at your bill when you send it.
Or let you go when the budget needs some trimming.
Don’t be a quiet sufferer. Instead, be the kind of person who says, “What you’re asking is hard, but I think I can do it.” Be the kind of person who is truly authentic about how much work is involved. Be the person who says, right up front, “What you’re asking will take me 40 hours to do at $X/hour. I’ll need two other people. And I can get it to you by Tuesday the 10th. How’s that going to work for you?”
And after you’ve delivered, rather than the rote saying of, “No big deal”, feel free to say, “It was a lot of work, but I’m really happy with the way it turned out.”
Value what you do, my friends, and others will, too.
Word to the wise – make sure you use the “I” pronoun. Ever noticed that when talking about work success men almost always say “I” while women often default to “we”? Women tend to be collegial and consensus-building kinds of leaders and managers, and have a difficult time taking individual credit. Think about it, though: which pronoun properly places credit where credit is due?
“I”, of course.
So, say “I”, and if you want to recognize members of your team who did a good job – because you’re fabulous you will want to – go ahead and say, “Tom really managed the spreadsheets” or “Megan was super with the contractors” or “Denise kept all the trains running on time.” Your people will appreciate the individual shout-out, and credit will be properly spread around.
Let me bottom-line this for you: when you let people see exactly how much effort you’re putting in — when you let them see an appropriate amount of sweat — you are giving them a way to understand the value of what you produce. Each drop of sweat adds to your perceived value. Each drop of sweat seals your expertise and ability.
So, forget deodorant commercials and their irksome jingles. Do yourself a favor: Always let them see you sweat.
You’re a superstar. All you’ve got to do is…let it show.