In Southern, Protestant culture, there is a genuine fear of pride. “Pride cometh before a fall.” Sometimes it’s hard to separate confidence from pride, at least for me. Enter my post title: “Success is not an embarrassment.”
This may seem like common sense to you. You may be thinking, who in the world would be embarrassed by success? Let me just say this. When recognition of your supposed accomplishments pushes people away from you, rather than connects them with you, it causes a problem. At least it does internally.
Today, I was at a conference on how to be an effective instructional coach. We thought about the differences between goals and intentions and set some of each. My professional intention is as follows: “I will not shy away from leadership opportunities. I will be confident in my abilities.” That’s hard for me. Some people may not understand why that is hard, and that’s okay, but it is hard.
I want to connect with people. Like the famous YouTube video says, “Children don’t learn from people they don’t like,” and neither do adults. What adult wants someone they do not like coming into their classroom and trying to “help” them? I firmly believe that instructional coaches need to connect with those around them in the school in order to be effective. How can I be effective if I am not confident? How can I be confident if I’m embarrassed by success?
My principal is very supportive of my teaching efforts. Sometimes, it seems he has more confidence in my abilities than I do. I tend to focus on the negative: the things I missed, the things I didn’t do, the students I didn’t reach. I know I have skills. I know I can do things. How can I feel okay with others seeing what I’m good at, too?
I have to “unlearn” that success is embarrassing. Somewhere along the way, I picked that up. Instead of helping me to remain humble, it’s causing me great consternation, fear, and anxiety. I want to be alleviated from this issue! I also want to focus on my strengths so that I can further develop them.
I say all of this to come to this point: success is personal. It’s individualized. It means different things to different people. For me, it means that I am comfortable with who I am, what I can do, and what I’m good at doing. It means that I wouldn’t be embarrassed by compliments or recognition. I shouldn’t hold myself back so that others don’t feel like they need to compete. And I can model this behavior by celebrating with others who succeed.
I will be intentional about celebrating my own successes by sharing with others who will celebrate with me, rather than compete with me. I will be honored by opportunities, rather than be embarrassed by them. I will demonstrate confidence in my competence.
What about you?