The first thing to come forward in my mind, asking for my attention, is our inclination to put what we do in the superlative. I attended a session describing new approaches to a task we all do as "radical." While I'm pretty sure the (very good) presenters were a bit tongue-in-cheek when they chose that word, it did make me realize how much we do the same thing without thinking about it. We talk about our "amazing" results, our "unbelievable" experiences, and our "top-notch" skills.
Maybe these words are appropriate. I have often felt that language fails me when I try to describe a session. And I love this work. (Love! The superlative emotion!) I am committed to go to work every day, through budding fatigue and surrounding life stresses, because the work engages and energizes my mind and heart. But does that mean I need to shout about it?
Why not choose, instead, quiet conversations with colleagues, storytelling (in person or maybe, I don't know, on a blog), and a moment every day to sit alone in gratitude for the day? Maybe it's the introvert in me, but this feels better. We can be (and often are) excellent. We can serve our clients and our colleagues without shouting to each other about our total awesomeness.
At the end of a session with one of my frail clients today, my feedback was a warm smile, lingering handshake, and a direct gaze into my eyes with a faintly whispered, "Thank you." One barely audible moment that showed me that my client felt better after the session than he did before. Why should I ask for or expect anything more? Truthfully, why should I ask for or expect anything, if I am truly trying to serve my clients and not my ego?
Now that I am home, I am resolved to speak more gently about my work. I can express the depth of my commitment to this profession without shouting about it. I am resolved to remember this quote from Susan Cain's book Quiet:
"There's zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas."