March 2019 Advisors Corner

March 2019 Advisors Corner

The Problem with Labels….Even the Good Ones

Although it’s still cold for most of us, springtime is not far off. Sunshine, green landscapes, and longer days are near. It can bring about aspirations of new growth and beginnings, and a rejuvenated sense of purpose for overcoming previous obstacles.

Often, we will identify people that we hold in high regard who have overcome the challenges we currently face, or who have achieved levels of success that we want for ourselves. In doing so, it is sometimes tempting to label those individuals as “gifted” or “exceptional”, and attribute their success to natural abilities or talents that they were “born with.” This can make it easier to accept our disappointments in that we can say, “well, I just don’t have the ability of (fill in the blank of the particular skill) that they do,” or “if I had the ability of that person, I could have achieved that, too.” I know I have done that before as an exercise of self-consolation and acceptance of a performance that I was not happy with. However, when I resort to that, I am doing myself a huge disservice and taking away from the efforts of the person who achieved where I fell short of the mark. It can become a nasty habit that we fall back on as a substitute for working harder. It would be healthier and more productive to work on developing the skills of those I hold in high regard as opposed to just labeling them as gifts. As opposed to labeling someone a good researcher, good clinician, or good writer, I should acknowledge what the reality is; they have worked hard in achieving that skill and if I work harder, perhaps I can achieve that, too. Moving forward I have made a conscious effort not to dismiss a person’s skill by labeling it as a natural gift, and accept the reality that they have worked to achieve that skill, and if I put in the time and effort, I can achieve that as well. I hope you have an amazing spring and great success in your future endeavors!