Recognise Your Damn Self

Recognise Your Damn Self

Create your own committees, build your own institutions, give your friends awards, award yourself, and be the gold you wanna hold my g's🌹

— Solange Knowles

It’s hard to tell whether Solange was being literal in this moment, or offering up a scathing critique of what award shows really are; committees within institutions, giving their friends awards. Their power is as flimsy as Tinker Bells’, in order to exist they need us to believe in them.

The feeling we are being seen and appreciated is something most of us crave. When we don’t receive it, it hurts. When we see others being recognised and we feel we’ve done better work, it can be sickening.

It’s easy to forget that we are giving other people the power to recognise us, especially when we don’t examine why we want that recognition.

Do we want it because it will give us status which results in more opportunity; is it part of our audience development strategy; is there a cash prize, crucial exposure? If so, all of those things can likely be achieved another way.


The truth is, it’s often none of the above. We want recognition because it feels good. Which is totally natural, but it’s not one of our most productive impulses. It can be a shameful, embarrassing feeling, so rather than unpacking it and taking a good look at it we shove it down and lock it away.

See if you can repeat all of the 18 statements below with a confident YES. If the answer is no, you may need to do some thinking about why not.

  1. I am my own most important critic

  2. I am selective and strategic about who judges my work

  3. I seek external recognition when it is useful in achieving my specific goals

  4. If someone either praises or criticises my work unasked, I am appreciative of their time but I do not necessarily recognise their perspective

  5. I understand that others’ perception of what I do is always subjective

  6. I appreciate my own work and the feeling of pride producing great work gives me

  7. I am more concerned with tangible, objective evidence of my progress than other people’s perceptions of it

  8. I measure the evidence of my progress regularly, against my own predetermined objectives

  9. I reward myself for my progress

  10. I do not wait for others to notice and share my skills and achievements

  11. I share my own skills, achievements, work and progress widely and strategically because it is a logical and responsible investment in my career

  12. If others do not appear to see my worth, either with praise or opportunities, I:

    i) examine their needs or values, and whether they align with what I have to offer
    ii) check that I have made what I have to offer highly visible to them specifically
    iii) ask others for objective advice on how (and whether it’s even possible) to create a better fit for myself in relation to the recognition I seek 

  13. I recognise that comparison is natural and normal, but that my perspective of others is subjective and is often a better reflection of my insecurities than my actual career progress

  14. I do not follow people I compare myself to on social media because it is a regular, and unproductive, distraction

  15. I am consciously building a career which doesn’t require industry gatekeepers to recognise my work in order to succeed

  16. Industry recognition (from specific, strategic sources) is only one measure out of many of my progress

  17. I do not disregard the positive opinions of those close to me on my work simply because they are biased - everyone is. They may not be offering a professional opinion, but I believe they are being honest within their own frame of reference and most importantly, offering valuable support

  18. When my need for recognition becomes overwhelming, painful, or blocks my productivity I seek advice/ coaching/ therapy in order to understand and address it

How do you recognise your own achievements? Have you managed to develop a healthy relationship with recognition of your work? Tell us how in the comments below.