Be honest—being able to help others belong starts with you creating and feeling a sense of belonging for yourself. In this video, practice three ways that you can shift your mindset and leverage your agency to create a sense of belonging for yourself.
- Neil Gaiman is one of the creative geniuses of our time. You may have read his works "The Sandman" graphic novels, "The Graveyard," or seen movies inspired by his books such as "Coraline" or "Stardust." And one day, he attended a party for creatives. And at that party, he started wondering, "What am I doing here? "Do I belong?" And he eventually found himself at the back of the room and there, he met an elderly gentlemen also named Neil, and he struck up a conversation. And at one point, the older Neil commented, "I don't know why I'm invited. "I've never really created anything. "All I've ever done is go where people sent me." And to this Neil Gaiman turned to the older Neil and said, "Yes, but they sent you to the Moon." So if Neil Gaiman and Neil Armstrong, two people we imagine are at the center of every gathering, would ever doubt their sense of belonging, maybe we should pause and rethink our assumptions about how those around us feel. The reality is people don't default to feeling a sense of belonging. To foster it, we need to proactively and intentionally cultivate it. And guess what? That starts with you. So here are three things to try to create that sense of belonging for yourself. First, believe you belong. What's a story you're telling yourself about yourself? So much of how we interpret another person's actions are based on the narrative that we have going on in our heads. So for example, if you think that you're an imposter and you got that job because they don't know your weaknesses, chances are you only look for evidence or explain other people's actions in a way that supports that belief and then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. But when you believe you have something valuable to contribute, you'll open your eyes to see all the ways that those around you think so too. So start by believing you belong. Next, take inventory of your superpowers, experience, and expertise. We tend to pay extra attention to our areas for improvement, and so that it's easy to overlook what we bring to the table. No one, no one in this world has your unique combination of experiences, skillsets, and superpowers. Focusing on that and how you can add value will help you see how you matter to the team. And last, broaden your portfolio of analogies and phrases. Want to feel more like an insider? Get to know their language. For example, for you, the phrase optimizing our performance may be enough to get your heart racing, but for those around you, it might be the type of phrase that makes them tune out. But they might get excited by another phrase that conveys what you mean, such as helping us flourish. So how do you know what phrases and stories will stick with them? Start by asking questions and listening not only to what they say, but also how they say it. And when you're able to practice these three tips, they'll give you a better chance of fostering a sense of belonging for yourself. And when you're able to do that, you'll have a better shot of fostering that for others. Belonging, it starts with you.