Showing what you can do is not showing off

013Walking through St Pancras station in London on a recent visit I could hear piano music. I assumed it was “piped” ( is that still a term used or am I stuck in the 70s ?) but as I walked on I realised that it was being played live on a piano in the concourse. In fact there are a couple of pianos available for anyone who wants to to sit down and play a tune.

It was such an interesting idea. The quality of the playing was great and the range of the music was wide. In the short time I was there we moved from Moonlight Sonata , through some jazz to a bit of  Adele. I stopped to listen to  a couple of teens play. It was  magical. Every person who sits down to perform does so to an unknown audience who in the main are coming across their work and talent by accident although I suspect that there might be regulars and that they might in turn gain a following from those who have enjoyed their playing.  The performers get the chance to show off their skills on their way to their day job or en route to catching a holiday train. Who knows what that might lead to for aspiring musicians or musical performers.

I grew up in Scotland where anyone deemed to be “showing off” was swiftly dealt with .   We Brits are also good at applying the with “tall poppy syndrome” where people who have achieved something that means they have a public profile become fair game for criticism.

This might explain why it is so hard to get people to talk about – or show us – what they are good at. This can be a major problem in the job market. Unless you yourself can explain to a potential employer why they should hire you then what do they have to go on? Including a list of achievements on your CV is one thing but talking about that some more and giving examples makes that come to life.

In my experience many  folk do have at least some idea of what their strengths are. But most will happily list their “weaknesses” and – to  make it worse  – they will probably start with them.

I was reading about the tiara syndrome (another one…) in this article from The London Evening Standard where is is explained as

 Being too modest. Believing diligence and productivity will get you promoted, without the need to highlight successes.

According the article it is not gender specific but is a product of socialisation and it would take work – and courage – to change. So while action – showing what you can do – is one thing , talking about it and talking it up is an important part of that too.

If it’s too big a step to take why not give it a go with someone you trust first to listen, appraise and give feedback so that you can try it out….and then go public.

My passion is to work with people to help them speak up – at interviews, at work, in groups, as volunteers…