The other day I was talking to a man who used to work for me. He was seeking advice about his current job, where he doesn’t feel his team respects or trusts him. As we discussed some approaches to build trust, I also told him it can be challenging to shed a reputation. Co-workers see you one way (fairly or unfairly), and they might not be able to see your full potential.
I then told him about a parenting class I had taken with Dr. Michael Thompson, a child psychologist and co-author of the best selling book Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Lives of Boys. Dr. Thompson told us that teenage boys can get cast into a role that prevents them from growing up to be confident, talented young men. If they get teased about something or labeled in a certain way, they may not be able to shed it. However, if these boys get away from their peer groups and make a fresh start, they can often reinvent himself. Dr. Thompson shared an impressive story of an insecure boy who was on the lower rung of the high school social ladder. He went to an outdoor education camp for the summer, where he took on the leadership role for his group. He returned to school a changed person.
In the workplace, there are similar situations where you get stuck in a certain role or with a reputation that holds you back. Sometimes the best thing is to just move on, to a new team or a new company.
Have you seen examples where your kids or your co-workers are held back by how others view them? How did they move past the prejudices? I’d like to hear from you!
© 2013 by Karen Catlin. All rights reserved.