Be Aware of Self-Assessors

When I was first introduced to a not-for-profit organization I heard the CEO comment, “We’re leaders in the field.” I can remember thinking at the time how commendable that was. However, as I got to know the agency and the respective field better I respectfully differed with the executive’s assessment. This is why I now primarily ask, “What do respected and reputable sources say?” As the saying goes – ‘Consider the source.’ Winning a talent competition at a local fair, as good as that may be, is not on par with winning a Grammy, Oscar or Pulitzer. Promotion will often include external third party endorsements in the form of quotes, a listing of awards rewards, and so forth. I try to not self-assess but rather let commendations, endorsements, recommendations, referrals, and so forth come from sources other than myself. A former colleague with whom I have not worked in 15 years recently said to one of my siblings, upon realizing they are related to me, “He’s an advocate for the people that he supports.” These words have stayed with me as I serve because they were unsolicited and came from a person who I respect very much. Finally, it is important to promote with integrity. The best way to explain what I mean by this is to ask, ‘What would people think of you or your organization if they investigated the claim?’ For example, a person’s assertion that he or she has worked in theatre for 30 years may be questioned if the reality is that the theatrical involvement consisted of volunteering as a stage hand for one weekend each year. Overall, self-assessment is a healthy exercise if it is for evaluative and not promotional reasons.

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