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  • Amina Aitsi-Selmi

Never let them put you down [Wise Wednesdays]

It was mid-afternoon that I sat in the big professor’s office trying to look confident. I wanted to convey my enthusiasm for the role I had been short-listed for. The pre-interview conversation was meant to be informational. But I left with a big dent in my confidence instead. As the prof sat down, I thanked him for the meeting and said “I’m excited to have been shortlisted”… He retorted: “Don’t be disappointed if you don’t get the job.” I was floored. How could he say that?!...Did he not understand this had been my dream for six years since my second year at medical school? That I’d worked night and day, living and breathing everything to do with this job? That I’d gone to 3 different countries including a war zone constantly relocating to get the best experience and qualifications for this job? Nope. I went home devastated and got on the phone to my family, barely holding back the tears. As it turned out, I got the job. Not only that, I must have done pretty well as I got a call straight after the interview and was offered my first choice department (which was not with his). I chose another department in another university and never had anything to do with that professor again.

Whatever his reasons for his behaviour, it did not help.

In the end I worked with a world renowned professor who was much kinder and gave me all the freedom and encouragement I needed to become the first in my medical speciality to obtain the most competitive research grant in the country. ------ So often we can be slammed for wanting what we want. Our dream career, more opportunities, time or money. We’re made to feel it’s unrealistic and feel guilty for asking. It’s as though it’s a crime. I had a coaching conversation with a client about this theme. We talked about the “needless, wantless” identity we so often display in a bid to do the right thing. We feel that asking for something we need or want is selfish or greedy. And, so it becomes that exceedingly caring and competent women experience fewer opportunities and more stress. It makes me so angry! And it’s one of the reasons I do what I do. Over the years, I’ve learned that the only “crime” is to let oneself down. To take on limiting beliefs that suffocate one’s natural potential. A tool that can help break out of that feeling that you can’t have what you truly want - especially when someone is trying to tell you it can’t be done - is to create your “Cookie Jar of Memories”. When you feel guilt or anxiety for asking for what you really want or need, or if someone shames you or makes you feel you’re exceeding your reach: you go into your Cookie Jar and munch on a memory of how someone told you that you wouldn’t make it and, yet, you did. I’ve stacked a few in mine already, including the one from that fated afternoon with the professor. Thank you, for the memory. What top 3 memories can you put in your Cookie Jar? Have a great week, Amina p.s. If you want to tune in to today’s podcast on Creating a Career You Love Despite an Uncertain Job Market, find out more and register free here.

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