It took me 3.5 years to get promoted at one of my jobs.

Yep, that’s a LONG time in typical promotion cycles for that specific organization.

And,  I experienced a lot of shame every time I found out I was not getting promoted.

It was very easy to go into a victim mindset & while there were some systemic forces at play, the primary reason was that I wasn’t ready for it YET!

I had never worked in tech, never worked in product or marketing and here I was bravely trusted by a manager who saw potential in me even though I was brand new to that space. This meant I needed time and opportunities to keep honing my craft and my leadership. 

But here’s the sad thing. I can write about it with clarity right now but at that moment I was so attached to my professional identity, my accomplishments, and my trajectory that I had conflated my worth as a human with what was on my resume and how I was doing relative to my peers. 

And here’s what I know now –  I know I am not going to win that race. And more importantly, my worth as a human has very little to do with what’s on my Linkedin profile. 

In that hard season, I  was often told by well-meaning colleagues to leave – “ They don’t value you here, you can get a better title elsewhere.”

But I knew deeply how valued and respected I was and the opportunities and belonging I received from the people around me. 

I am grateful I stayed because ultimately the promotion came and I realized I could do hard things and that my own fulfillment was so much bigger than promotion. Yes, it was absolutely wonderful to be seen, valued, and celebrated for who I was. I developed my own voice and leadership style through all of that pain and struggles.

I am not sharing this story to say that we should all stay in jobs where promotion is taking longer because of unfair reasons. In those cases, please find a home where you matter and belong (and I know that is incredibly hard, especially at this time).

I am sharing this story to highlight how much we have been told that our worth is all about our achievements and how much shame and grief we carry when there is a layoff, a delayed promotion, or a rejection on a job interview.

But here’s my hope that my story also reminds you that you can absolutely honor your ambition, make space for grief and disappointment, and also gracefully detach this belief that all of your worth comes from all the external markers of success that we have been so deeply conditioned with. 

Over to you, what determines your worth as a human, as a leader? Are you over-indexing on what’s on your resume than what is serving you well?  Are you investing sufficiently in becoming the person and leader you want to be?

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