A few months ago, I was complaining to a colleague why everyone felt the need to show off instead to show for. What happened to actions speak louder than words?  His answer made me laugh and at the same time helped me navigate the workplace with a different perspective. He said:

Nadja, everyone is a peacock inside. Some are bigger than others, but everyone will want to show off their feathers and how big they can grow.

Knowing that in almost every organisation, and especially in large multinational security institutions where alpha egos and queen B’s reign, how do you survive? If you look at it as survival, then you are probably better off looking for another job aligned with your personality and purpose. The real question is how do you thrive and still go to bed with a clear conscience knowing you still have your integrity intact? I can only answer this question based on my personal experience, insights and 17 years working in a male-dominated security environment as a Dutch-Morrocan girl… now woman!  I will write several blogs where I will share my key messages, and these are my first top three!

If you don’t believe in yourself, no one will

My number one advice is to choose your internal narrative. Whatever you tell yourself, that is what you will project and what others will perceive. If you keep telling yourself the cliche stories of not being good enough, you will never succeed, I will look stupid, people will laugh, I am fraud, I have to blend in and so on …then most likely that is what will happen. Easier said then done right? It requires a lot of self-reflection, self-awareness, self-confidence and above all…stop thinking your self-worth depends on other people’s opinion. Caring what other people think is different than letting it define you. The most important person you need to convince and build a healthy relationship with is yourself! You are born alone, and you will die alone, there is only one person in your body. Another thing to keep in mind is that people are inherently selfish beings and care more what’s in it for them than for you. Some are more selfish than others but seek those people that have the same selfish interests. This will fuel your desire and passion for pursuing whatever you want to pursue in life. Because if you believe you can, then you will!

Stop bragging and start showing

We have all been in meetings where we have to listen to those in desperate need to seek self-assurance that they are God’s gift to the organisation. Listening to how awesome they were when THEY were in charge, and thus THEY must know better than everyone else. There is no bigger turnoff than to listen to humblebragging while all you can think bloody hell, just get to the point! Time is valuable and costs money, and we are not paid to talk about how good we are but to demonstrate it! The only time you should brag about your skillsets and competencies while linking it to the organisational objectives is during interviews. So guess what, if you got the job …you are good enough and can start showing, learning, growing and lift others up along your journey while you are rocking at work! And yes, lifting others up instead of tearing them down will make people remember you and respect you. A real sign of strength and resilience is when you man or woman up, take responsibility for your team and resist throwing others under the bus to save your skin. Most of us want to have status, but don’t honour the obligation that comes with it. The only thing that people will remember is how you made them feel. And if that single thing is them being under the bus because of you…good luck in life!

Set boundaries and keep them

We are a product of our decisions, not circumstances. If you surround yourself with people who are always negative, who complain non-stop and who are miserable in their jobs…it is because you let them be around you. Toxic people love weakness. What do I mean by weakness in this sense? Not standing up for yourself and for what you believe. Let’s take me for example. I am a passionate and confident person as I am grateful for all that life has to offer. Because I am also very much aware that my life is a life many other people can only dream of. People who are sleeping on the streets, people who are in war-torn countries, people who are forced into jobs where your worst nightmares come true on a daily basis. Is my life perfect? No, far from it. But I am grateful for all the little things, and if I can spread my positivity and passion to others by putting a smile on their face, I am a thrilled Nadja. I choose who I spent my time with in my personal life. In my professional life, I set boundaries. I don’t seek to be liked,  but respected. I don’t ask validation from others, but I am self-aware and try to improve to be a better person at work and home. I choose not to let toxic and harmful people affect or destabilise me.  No matter how many stabs in the back, how many busses I was under (which I always come out stronger) and no matter how much negativity and resistance I face, I choose to see the positive in every situation. Is it easy? Trust me, there are some days where I pray my thoughts do not turn into reality, because help me God! But always remember that when they go low, you go high. You get to go to bed with your integrity intact and being your excellent you…and they get to be that person with no conscience and character. Let go of what you can’t change, change what you can and spread the positivity!


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