Accomplishments in corporate America often belong to the “team.” Some companies go so far as to encourage their employees to adopt a “there’s no I in TEAM” philosophy, discouraging individuals from taking direct credit for their work. In many cases, this philosophy works: it deters internal conflict and competition, inspires teamwork, and promotes camaraderie among team members in order to achieve goals successfully. Over the last year, however, I’ve come to believe that although this philosophy works well for organizations, it has its drawbacks for the individual: we can quickly translate the “no I in Team” to a “no I in Me” philosophy, shying away from taking credit when credit is due, or causing us to not celebrate or take pride in our own accomplishments.
Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting a dynamic woman interested in breaking into wellness. She was interested in learning how I got into the profession, became an author and ran a health and wellness conference in the Boston area. As I regaled her with some of the details, I noticed myself using “we,” when in fact, “we” really was “me, myself and I.” At one point, I finally stopped myself and explained, “You know, I keep saying we, but it was really just me.” She laughed and expressed her understanding, “That is the consultant in you. G_d forbid you take credit for the work you have done.” I agreed and laughed too, while making a mental note that this bad habit needed to change.
Quickly deferring to a hypothetical “we” has been my MOD for some time now. Almost as if it is bad or wrong to take ownership of my work and credit for my accomplishments. Yet, owning our accomplishments is vital to self-esteem, self-confidence, self-worth and overall self-respect. Our accomplishments are what make us feel confident in taking on new challenges and meeting new goals.
When working in a team environment, placing ownership among all team members is important. When you are a team of one, however, it is important to feel comfortable owning your own successes. Your self-esteem depends on it.
Do you find yourself using the royal “we” when you should be using “me” in your own conversations? Are you afraid or feel it is wrong to take pride in your accomplishments?