Lately I’ve been struggling with giving oneself titles such as expert, leader, and change-agent.
My perspective is that titles are not only earned but also given. Calling yourself an expert, leader, or change-agent is easy enough, however, I’m always wary of self-given titles. I can call myself a Panda Expert, but am I really a Panda Expert? Your title is dependent on your community, their experience with your work, your knowledge in a given area, and if they feel they can give you those titles.
I think this has been on my mind for several reasons including the multitude of resumes that I am reviewing for friends, and because I’ve been looking at colleagues’ bios and descriptions of themselves on their social media platforms to help me improve my own. Perhaps the most significant reason this has been on my mind is probably from my final days at my previous institution.
As my final days loomed closer to my departure at my last institution, I had many colleagues come to say good-bye. There were chats, coffee, hugs, some tears and even cupcakes decorated as Pandas :). But the most impactful thing they sent me off with was the honor of referring to me as a few positive identities and titles that I always aspired to, but never wanted to refer to myself as. I always felt that self-identifying as them seemed empty to me. During my many conversations – and as these titles came up – it was such a validation of me as a professional, and put my work into a purposeful context.
Now, I still don’t refer to myself as those titles or identities, but I know that I am reaching my aspirations. My friends and colleagues do see those qualities and traits in me that I aspire to, so I feel that I don’t have to announce it to the world.
I’ll be honest: titles can look nice and be really impressive. But the content and practice is what will really earn you the titles. If you are truly an expert, leader, change agent or whatever else, you won’t have to say it. Everyone will already know it by your actions and work.
Don’t focus so much on the titles you give yourself to impress and convince everyone that you’re an expert. Put your focus on being you and the best professional and person you can be. People will know who you are without you having to tell them.
Until next time,
Peace, Love and Pandas!
Originally Published At Hello World, Its Me, Brian