'I never do a good enough job'
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Posted by: Barbara Francella
During a holiday weekend, my teenage daughter, Shannon,
and my husband, Craig, were preparing to wash and wax her car. As they were
setting up the buckets, hose and cleaning materials, I was sitting on our deck
out of eyesight, but not out of earshot. I heard Shannon ask her Dad, "Do you
need any help?” Craig replied, "It’s up to you.” Shannon woefully said, "I never do a good
The words hung in the air — and continued hanging in the
air. Seconds ticked by. Inwardly I urged Craig to answer the question. Don’t
let those words linger. Nothing. Answer
her question I felt like screaming. Don’t let this moment pass by. Time
continued to pass very slowly.
Related: "Acting too tough? The value of being vulnerable."
Unable to stand it any longer and feeling like an
eavesdropper on a private conversation between a daughter and her Dad, I went
into the house. I jotted down a few phrases inside the book I was reading that
described what I had just heard.
- Always trying
- Always chasing
- Always competing
- Wants her father’s love and approval and
The prior day I had been to the beautician, Olivia, who
my daughter and I both use. My daughter had seen Olivia two days prior to my
appointment. Olivia and I were discussing how Shannon may succumb to
"senioritis” during her final year of high school. Olivia told me that Shannon
had said she won’t have senioritis because Shannon wants to ensure she
outperforms everything her older brother has done.
Our son and daughter are overachievers in academics and
athletics. Shannon is driven to prove herself to her father and to outshine her
brother. I admire and respect her drive, ambition and competitiveness. I also
fully understand it. I have been driven throughout my entire life to please my
father and to achieve as much or more than he achieved.
Winning the praise and approval of parents is something
most of us crave. This feeling continues as we encounter teachers, coaches and
supervisors. We want them to notice our efforts and to praise us. Words of
praise and encouragement are golden and can turn us into superheroes.
recently read The Confidence Code by
Katty Kay and Claire Shipman. The authors set out to discover why girls and
women have less confidence than boys and men. They visited with neuroscientists
who have discovered the confidence gene; psychologists who study confidence;
and senior-level women in politics, sports, the military, business and the
arts. In school, girls are expected to keep their heads down, study quietly and
do as they’re told. These behaviors don’t translate well in the workplace for
Shipman discovered that men rely less on praise to feel confident. Men don’t
let their doubts stop them as often as women do and they spend less time
thinking about the possible consequences of failure. Research has shown that
success correlates more closely with confidence than it does with competence. Without
confidence, we live stuck at the starting block of our potential.
came into the house about mid-way through the car washing activity and I shared
my observations with her — she is always trying, always chasing, always competing,
and trying hard to win the love, approval and praise of her father. Shannon’s
eyes welled with tears and her voice choked with raw emotion. She rasped, "When
I have a great volleyball game, Dad criticizes the way I play. I just want him
to tell me that I played well.” I told her that both Dad and I are proud of her
volleyball skills and her grades.
went back outside and finished washing and waxing her car with her Dad. Later in the day, I had a conversation with
Craig about Shannon’s revealing statement, "I
never do a good enough job.” Kudos go to my husband because he did address
Shannon’s comment with her by giving her examples of things she does well.
each of us to crack the confidence code of others, it requires our efforts as
parents, teachers, coaches and managers to recognize and praise our children,
students, players, colleagues and employees. Finding magical moments to say
something that helps others put on their superhero cape builds their confidence
and their ability to succeed.
Haden wrote an article about the elements of highly effective praise. We can
apply these tips in our personal and professional lives:
wait; begin recognition and compliments now
constructive feedback for another time
time looking for and commenting on the things that are done right
surprising; provide recognition and praise when it isn’t expected
people like snowflakes — everyone is different
and compliments nourish our souls and fuel our desire to succeed.
Sharon Orlopp is global chief diversity
officer and senior vice president at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. She is responsible
for advancing a diverse workforce with 2.2 million associates worldwide. Prior to
joining Walmart in 2003 as vice president, people, she served vice president of
human resources for Gart Sports, and, earlier, held leadership positions at Foot
expressed in signed blogs and user comments are those of the authors and do not
necessarily reflect the opinions of the Network of Executive Women or its
Officers, Board members and sponsors.
More Women in the C-Suite