This is a topic with many dimensions. Let’s break it down. But first: credit where credit is due. I heard this for the first time in what I think is the world’s best TED talk: “The art of being yourself” by Caroline McHugh (here). If you haven’t seen it, watch it!
Let’s make it educational and start backwards. “Think of yourself less”. This is one of the basic pillars of my counselling. That the expert should think less about their own expertise and more about the customer’s needs. But it’s difficult – especially if the expert is nerdily passionate about what they do, because then you also become… a nerd. And the distance between your own level of expertise and the customer’s preconceptions increases the more expert you become. Unless you constantly remind yourself to “think about yourself less”. Or – in other words – “think about the customer more”. I had a situation recently where the expert thought he had to give all his expertise to the customer all the time. But the fact is that if you manage to portion out your expertise in just the right size for the customer, the end result will be better. Again, as an expert, you need to make sure that you don’t start from yourself and what you want to share – but from the customer’s needs. “Think of yourself less.”
And what about “don’t think less of yourself”? I have previously talked about the inner critic. That most of us have one. That we sometimes need to prove to the customer that we really know what’s going on – and then throw everything we can at the customer at once. Or that we compare ourselves with others who, in our eyes, may know more. The standards we set for ourselves automatically make us see ourselves as less worthy.
There will always be someone who knows more. If the customer has chosen you, it is because the customer wants you and no one else. Perhaps because you have thought less of yourself.
I have previously shared that I do not have an inner critic, but an inner “inspector and quality controller”. This results in me not thinking “less of myself”. Somewhere there I have realised that I can deliver a certain level and then I don’t need to compare myself or belittle myself. It’s a good strategy that I wish more people would adopt. It’s also what I think makes it easier to take yourself to the next level. Because the consequence of belittling yourself is that you do not dare to take that next step that you would like… It is a shame, and in most cases completely unnecessary.
If you need help with both “don’t think less of yourself” and “think of yourself less” – get in touch.