Two comments for the price of one:
There is a fine line between humility and cowardice.
I had to sleep on this, twice. It was a relief to realise that it is not just me that is guilty of a disconnect between how others perceive me and how I perceive myself. Reading this comment back before posting it, first it is too long (again!), second I need to be clear, the lack of self belief I describe here is not humility. It is a scandalous and unacceptable waste, of which I am partly cured, at least at work, as a result of the experience I describe here.
Earlier this year, I relearned the difference between knowledge and realisation with respect to how others perceive me, I also relearned the difference between shock and surprise. I was moving from one role to another. I was of the opinion that I was utterly useless at what I did, and frankly felt a fraud doing it. I had found another job and was a couple of weeks away from starting it in March when this happened. For the record, I did move on, and really enjoy my new role, it is everything I hoped for and pretty much what I have been looking for since 2001 (yes, 2001), I give a hint at why in my second comment.
When I resigned, my boss tried to persuade me to stay and refused to accept my resignation for a couple of weeks. That was nice. It is good to move on on a positive note, bridges in tact.
In mid Feb with a couple of weeks to go, my boss lined me up to meet several members of our board and then two clients to try to persuade me to stay. This went on through an all but back to back sequence of meetings on a tumultuous day. He also waved a pay raise and a large, albeit post dated, cheque at me. I don’t mean a large cardboard cheque like those beloved props of PR people dishing out lottery wins, but one with some quite big numbers on it. This panto started with breakfast in an executive dining room in Canary Wharf at 0800 and carried on, on and off until 1800. Earlier that week, one of my references for the new job had delivered two things, a glowing reference and counter offer to go and work with him instead.
What a big head huh? You would feel great wouldn’t you? Well perhaps I should have, but the day actually ended with me standing with my head in my hands outside Euston station after the last of these meetings. This was a phone call from my boss in which the financial element was added, by that time, a slightly irrelevant cherry on an already rich cake.
I was glad it was raining and dark. 43 year old men aren’t supposed to crack up, especially not in public and most certainly not about something as bizarre as the shocking realisation that you are valued to quite this degree. However, the tears weren’t the result of the onslaught of praise, but the result of an utterly enraged lecture I was giving myself. It appeared that a lot of people believed in me, but with one utterly shameful, arrogant and wasteful exception, me. They were also at the frustration that I had not believed in myself for several, if not wasted years, but certainly a few through which I had failed to realise my potential and most importantly enjoy it all as a result.
The shock did me good but I have to keep reminding myself not to be so cowardly (worse than reluctant) in future.
PS Thanks to Alison for allowing such a long comment :)