Q: I feel overlooked and unappreciated in my job. I'm surrounded by people with more talent, skill and/or education who get all the attention. It gets pretty discouraging. How can I keep my attitude up?
Jim: I'd say don't look down on yourself; your role may be more important than you think. Let me give you an illustration.
It's fascinating to watch an orchestra in action. You'll see a wide variety of musical instruments played by people who have worked hard to develop their skills. When master conductor Leonard Bernstein was asked once which is the hardest instrument to play, his answer was "second fiddle." He went on to say: "I can get plenty of first violinists. But to find someone who plays second violin with as much enthusiasm -- that's a problem. Yet if we have no second fiddle, we have no harmony."
Bernstein's point is that in this me-first, "personal brand" world filled with people posting promotional selfies, very few are interested in playing "second fiddle." That's even become a derogatory term for people who work hard behind the scenes but receive little credit.
Yet a supporting role is nothing to look down on. The richness and fullness of music comes from the harmonies provided by the entire orchestra. And anybody who truly understands how thriving organizations function will tell you that success can only be achieved when everyone involved makes results the goal instead of recognition.
Maybe you feel insignificant because people around you seem to be more in the forefront. But I encourage you to see yourself in a different light. You bring something to your circle of influence that no one else could -- your uniquely created blend of skills, personality and experience. And something important would be missing without you. I hope you'll find a fulfilling spot, at this job or perhaps a different one, where your value is clearly appreciated and communicated to you and everyone else.
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Q: What do my kids really need from me? My wife says I don't pay enough attention to them, but I'm working as hard as I can to provide for my family.
Danny Huerta, Vice President, Parenting and Youth: One of the major responsibilities of being a father is to provide for their family. Kudos to you for that! But children need more than food and a roof over their heads. And some of the things they need are best provided not by a mom but a dad. So what else do kids need from you?
-- Relationship. Children yearn for a loving connection with their father. Research shows that a father's presence helps kids with social adjustment, improves graduation rates, and reduces a child's risk of mental health problems. Yet a lot of dads don't make time for relationship a priority. Time is crucial -- you can't pay attention and listen to someone else without dedicating time to them. So when you're with your children, put down your phone, make eye contact, and hear what's on their hearts.
-- Boundaries and limits. Kids need a dad who is willing to do the hard work of creating boundaries. These help them learn how to navigate emotions, pressures and temptations. Within the context of security and relationship, limits promote respect, trust, growth and self-esteem. Children will test the limits you lay down, but they need them. You'll be much more successful in implementing boundaries if you've taken time to develop a healthy relationship with your kids.
-- Mission, direction and vision. Children build their identity from a very young age. By validating their character, talents and skills, you can help your kids focus their lives and pursue meaning and purpose. That's life transforming for them -- and you.