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  • Linda R. Taliaferro

How To Prove Yourself At Work Without Burning Out



Eight Interviews. One Job.


Eight different people interviewing for the same job?


No.


One person. One job. Eight interviews.


Even with my academic background and stellar career accomplishments, I fell into the hamster wheel of having to prove myself repeatedly. Even though my work and experience should have spoken for themselves, it still wasn’t enough to convince the hiring team that I was enough.


Why Not Move On?

That’s a great question. To be honest, I almost did.


I received a call, believing it was the job offer. I was to be rewarded for all my hard work and patience. Instead, the organization was telling me that they were not yet convinced and that I needed one more interview.


At that point, I was at a crossroads. Emotionally drained and frustrated, I fought against the decision to jump off the hamster wheel and search for the next opportunity.


My instincts were sending up red flags, but as a black woman in the corporate world and executive leadership, I can’t afford for red flags to cause me to stop and run in the other direction.


Our Responsibility

As black and brown women in the workplace, that hamster wheel looks all too familiar. For decades we have gotten into the habit of proving ourselves repeatedly. Pushing forward and going the extra mile to prove we belong.


And we have to.


We owe it to ourselves, and we owe it to the generation coming after us.


We work too hard and persevere too long to give up and take hold of what we strive for.


In addition to shifting our career trajectory, every step on that corporate hamster wheel represents one step closer to making the journey easier for the next generation.


How To Beat The Hamster Wheel


To do your part in moving forward and not letting the burden of proving yourself hinder your career and those who come after you, you must know how to endure and win.


1 Choose to Stay in the Game

You must make this mental choice, and you must understand why you are choosing to stay. Your “why” has to be bigger than you. If it’s not, it will make it much more challenging to wake up every morning and jump back on that wheel.


Ground your decision with the understanding that when you get on that wheel, you are shifting the landscape for people coming after you. Even if you aren’t the ones to reap the rewards, you can help be the one to prove that black and brown women do belong.


2 Choose Community

Your community of supporters is critical. These can be people in your professional and personal corner. They are the ones who will keep you motivated and rooted in your goals. They will give you that relief to help support your mental health.


Best of all, these are the people who see you for who you are, understand how amazing you are, and you never have to prove yourself to them.


3 Choose Perseverance

When it hurts, you choose to take another step.

When you feel alone, you choose to walk alone. When you are tired, you walk a little slower.

No matter what, you never stop moving forward. This is the mindset that is going to shape you into your potential.


At the end of your career, as you are enjoying retirement, you want to be able to reflect on your journey. You may not have done everything perfectly and may not have achieved everything you wanted. But when you commit to perseverance, no one will ever be able to say you didn’t fight through adversity and give it your all.


Conclusion


On that eighth interview, I received the job offer for a fantastic job that will continue to change my career trajectory and empower me to pave the way for future black and brown women in my space.


The three tips are not going to eliminate the hamster wheel. You know as well as I that systemic challenges are here to stay and keep the hamster wheel turning. But that doesn’t mean we have to approach with a defeatist attitude.


Use these tips to get in shape psychologically, emotionally, and physically so that you know what to expect and are equipped to run the marathon and come out on top. Stay on that hamster wheel for you and the next generation of black and brown women ready to prove they belong.



Being Brown At Work

For more guidance on changing your career trajectory, navigating microaggressions, and everything else unique to the experience of black and brown women, join me for the next edition of Being Brown at Work: LIVE.


We meet on Facebook Live, LinkedIn Live, and YouTube every Tuesday at 6:30 PM EST. Join the conversation.

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