Be professionally arrogant and personally humble. Never mix up the two.
Most of our strife at the workplace comes because we don’t put our foot down, we don’t say no or we don’t even express our expertise or opinions freely__because we think we are trapped in either the” boss is always right” syndrome or we prefer following the herd. Think about your work and career so far deeply. Every time you have found your work lacking meaning and purpose, and found it to be a burden, the reason would have invariably been because you didn’t feel things were being done right at work. Either culturally, process-wise or strategically. Favoritism, petty politics, bickerings, poor quality, delayed meetings, biased appraisals are all manifestations of things not being “right” in any organization. And you know always that this is not “right” but never spoke up. You have all the solutions to whatever ails your team, department or organization. Because that’s what you qualified for __ to know the “right” way of doing things. But you remain a mute spectator because you are a “good” worker, a “soft-spoken”, “amiable”, “humble” professional.
So instead of being professionally firm__even being arrogant is fine__you choose to be professionally humble. And from being an intelligent, skilled, knowledge worker, you become a grumpy, unproductive, sufferer. You carry your strife home. You put on weight. Your blood pressure starts rising. You encounter diabetes, cholesterol and several lifestyle ailments. Slowly, your professional humility turns you into an individual who’s incompetent or at least appears to be. All of this can be avoided if you see yourself as a subject matter expert. And you stick to the “right” way of doing things. Whether you are a lathe operator or a HR manager or a chartered accountant or a bio-chemist or a pilot, you are a qualified professional. Over years of being in a job, you become a subject matter expert. Be arrogant with this expertise. When you see something that’s going wrong or not being done the “right” way, speak up. And remove this fear that you will lose your job because everyone is toeing the popular line and you don’t want to be the only dissenting voice. In my 27 years of corporate experience, I haven’t seen a single professional who spoke up lose his or her job. But I have seen and still see countless corporate lambs silently suffer because they feared speaking up.
Think of a situation where you go to a doctor and complain of chest pain. The doctor refers you to a cardiologist; who orders scans and concludes that you need a bypass. Can you argue with the doctor on her diagnosis, can you opinionate, can you tell her that she doesn’t know her business? Well you can’t and you won’t. Because your Life is at stake and the doctor is a subject matter expert.
Quite similarly, my dear friend, your Life, your peace, your joy, is at stake, because you are not recognizing the subject matter expert in you. Don’t mistake your expertise to be your handicap. It is the most potent weapon in your arsenal. Use it. You will find bliss at work! Here and Now!