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  • Susan Fletcher, Ph.D.

What College Graduates are Missing


There are some things I know I'm good at. There are things I know I'm not so good at.

I cook great pancakes. I can help people see things differently. I can diffuse a difficult situation between two people in a work environment and help them learn to work well with each other. I'm not so good at Math. I don't sing well. I'm not your girl if you need a speaker who can talk about Eating Disorders or Six Sigma.

Many people, in an effort to make a good impression, only disclose what they are good at. Maybe they're afraid that they will be judged if they talk about what they can't do.

FOX 4 recently asked me to comment on Time magazine's story, "Are You Mom Enough" which addresses insecurities parents can have. Here's the TV footage - you may have seen the controversial magazine cover.

But there is a trend in the Millennial generation (18-30 year olds) for a lack of self-awareness about what they aren't good at. Have we done a disservice to people under 30 who always got a ribbon for participating, who were always told "good job" for doing just enough, or who got whatever they wanted when they threw a teenage tantrum?

Leaders hiring college graduates have revealed that new graduates entering corporate America lack awareness of what they are good at and what they are not good at. Self-regard is when you are able to talk about both. This is so different than self-esteem.

Self-esteem is the reputation you have of yourself. Some people think they are good at everything and they are not shy about telling you so. Self-regard is about being authentic, transparent, and honest. Most people would agree that it is important to represent your true abilities and your "opportunities" for improvement. Here are Smart Ways to show that you have self-regard in a way that can be respected and appreciated:

  • Practice with your biggest champions first. To get the language down and build up a comfort level, find ways to fit in a comment about yourself that is not throwing yourself under the bus.

  • Be hopeful in your remarks rather than terminal about your inabilities. Instead of saying: "Learning another language is so hard for me. I'll never be able to do it." Say, "I can't wait to learn that. I've never been able to remember the translations."

  • Identify 3 things about yourself that you are working on. Commit to following through with getting better at one of them. You will gain the confidence and belief that "anything is possible" and prove to yourself that inabilities can turn into abilities.

  • Watch people you admire and people who are successful. Observe another person's ability to be humble, honest and forthright when he or she is talking about himself or herself. Study how he/she does this and other peoples' reactions. See how it flows more easily when you are comfortable about it yourself.

I tried doing my own bookkeeping thinking it was a way to keep my finger on the numbers. Now I'm here to tell you that bookkeeping is not my special skill and that I have someone who does it much better - ultimately helping me to know day to day how the money flows in my business life and my personal life. I'm the first one to tell you that I stink at that...and my bookkeeper would be the second to tell you the same thing.