I’ve been fortunate to work with people who are excellent and who eagerly partner with me on things because they know me and expect that whatever we do together, even if it fails, will make us better.
I stopped having to prove myself to those people long ago.
Transitions, though, mean that you have to prove yourself all over again to a whole new team of people (“transition” need not equal “move”). That’s a good thing.
When you’re the new person on the team you can’t fall back on what you’ve done before. Everybody knows more than you. There’s a new pressure to show off–your knowledge base, your record, your connections. Proving yourself can be a trap.
But the pressure to prove yourself can help you as long as you’re proving the right things. A former colleague said to me at the start of my last transition, “Begin as you intend to continue.” She meant, “avoid the trap of proving yourself by working late every day, because you won’t be able to keep that up and you will end up disappointing people.”
Beginning as you intend to continue is an invitation to prove yourself in the right way. You can begin and continue with curiosity about your new work and your new team. You can begin and continue with a willingness to own responsibility for what everybody is trying to accomplish together. You can begin and continue with a commitment to not take yourself too seriously and to contribute as much levity as you do intensity.
Proving ourselves is how we grow in the attributes we prize.