I’m Good Enough, I’m Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me!

“Daily Affirmation with Stuart Smalley” is one of the reasons I continued to watch SNL in the 90’s.  Al Franken invented and acted out Stuart in a way that made you laugh and cringe at the same time.

I’m not an affirmation gal.  The closest I get is coaching my daughter to tell me to “Buck up, Mommy!” whenever I start to get emotional.  It works because she’s so damn cute, and any reason for tears quickly turns into laughter hearing her say those words to me.

However, there are times I need confirmation I’m on the right track and doing the right thing.

And my go-to Cartman soundbite of “Screw you guys, I’m going home” isn’t always appropriate.

Given I really don’t get into the affirmation thing, I was surprised at how much this Inc.com article resonated with me and the work I do in the HR/People world.  Here are a couple of my favorites:

“I will always maintain perspective.”

This hit home recently.  I’ve been told bad things come in threes – other than copperheads; those come in twos.  It’s a Texas thing.

In a short period of time I had three significantly crappy things happen to those I care about and myself.  I cried.  I got really pissed.  I lost sleep.

Then I remembered something my graduate school accounting professor asked me as I was in his office sobbing over a bad test score.

Him:  “Kathy, do you have a boyfriend?” (yeah – initial creep factor was 7 out of 10, but stay with me)

Me: (snot sob) “Yeesss”

Him:  “Does he support you?”

Me:  “Yes”

Him:  “Does your mom love you?”

Me: “Of course” (thinking…what the F does this have to do with me bombing this test??!!)

Him:  “Then I won’t worry about you.  You have someone who supports you and a mother who loves you.  This is just a stupid test. You will be alright”.

Bam.  Like that, I realized things I hold dear will never be diminished by a test or crappy things that I can’t control.

In HR, sometimes we think we CAN and SHOULD control everything.  Or that when bad stuff happens we have to somehow fix it.  Or we have an immediate response of “I’m sorry” for crap that is purely business and we really shouldn’t be apologizing for it.

Put it in perspective.  Do you have a support system?  Does someone love you?  Do you find meaning in your work/life?

If yes, then chances are you’ll survive whatever just made you freak out.

“In one way, I will always be last.”

As a competitive person, this was a hard one to digest.  But here’s the take-away:

“Everyone likes to be first.  But often it’s better to be last: the last to give up, the last to leave, the last to keep trying, the last to hold on to principles and values.

The world is full of people who quit.  The world is full of people who pivot (pivot is sometimes just a fancy word for “give up”).

Always be the last to give up on yourself.”

Our HR professional lives are not a sprint to the finish.  Our work lives are an endurance challenge.  Can you withstand the highs along with the lows?  Can you get yourself up to have the same conversation over and over again?  Can you see beyond today and lead through uncertainty and elements you can’t control?  Can you weather the bad and celebrate the good?

If yes, then it’s alright to be last as long as you cross the finish line.

“…and that’s…okay.”

FOT Background Check

Kathy Rapp
Kathy Rapp is the President of hrQ, where she helps companies find groovy HR Talent or HR Consultants to drive business results.  Prior to joining hrQ, Kathy booked more than 15 years of human resources leadership experience working for such companies as Morgan Stanley and First Data Corporation.  A connoisseur of the intersection between pop culture and business, Kathy believes many talent issues can be addressed via the succession planning lessons experienced by Van Halen  (David Lee/Sammy and sadly, Gary Cherone).


  1. Emily Sulzer says:

    So true. I completely bombed a test in high school and was really upset about it. A good friend of mine turned to me and said, “Imagine this test is a white spot on the blackboard of life, how significant is it going to be?” Although in the moment I didn’t appreciate the perspective, he was right. And I think of this saying every time I am freaking out and decide if whatever is happening is worth the stress/anger/tears.

    And I love the never giving up on yourself. If you always believe in you, things will be okay.

    • Kathy Rapp says:

      Thanks, Emily. That’s a good one too! Crazy that blackboards are almost obsolete…

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