2 July 2020

You work for an agency or you work in a large organisation and you do great work that’s applauded by everyone, your status rises and you start thinking: “You know what? I’m good at this, why am I working for this company? I can make it on my own… I think I’ll quit and do my own thing.”

Or, you work for an agency or you work in a large organisation and you do great work that’s applauded by everyone, your status rises and out of nowhere a pandemic hits and through no fault of your own, you’re laid off.

F**k! What Now?

Either way, you are now looking to start your own thing or for a new role.

The more brilliant you think you are, the more opportunities you think will come your way.

The more brilliant you are, the more opportunities you’ll have come your way or you can create.

Key here is making sure you focus on how brilliant ‘you’ are. Not how brilliant you were with the support of or within the agency or organisation behind you.

It’s Not You

When talking to people in this position, with increasing regularity, I often hear a version of:

“I know I’m good, my clients think I am great and I deliver great work for them.”

There are two issues with this statement.

Firstly, unless you took the clients to your current or previous employer, they are not ‘your’ clients. They are the clients of your employer that you represent/ed.

Secondly, unless you were working in isolation in the agency or organisation (which would be strange), you didn’t deliver the work, you were part of your employer’s team that delivered the work.

You may be brilliant, but if you are going to go out there and find your own way, you need to work out what you yourself are brilliant at.

Then, what you think of yourself is quickly irrelevant, you need to work out how you can solve peoples’ problems or serve people. No one, sadly, cares about how brilliant you are. At least… not initially, they care, initially, about themselves.

You may have done great things at your previous company, or been brilliant there… you’re not there anymore though. You’re now being judged against everyone everywhere.

‘Your clients’ in the previous organisation may think you are brilliant, but they didn’t buy you alone, they bought you and the organisation. ‘Your clients’ will drop you like a stone if they come with you and don’t get exactly what they were used to when they were your previous employer’s clients and quickly return to being their clients again.

Can you do what you did without that organisation, in another or with one of your own making? In truth – you have no idea. Yet.

Don’t fall into the trap I see time and time again of thinking you are brilliant only because of where you used to work (and yes, I have been guilty of this in the past). You need humility. No one owes you a thing and you’re not entitled to anything. If you’ve done great work, and if this manifests as arrogance when you’re talking to new people, companies or clients… you will drastically reduce your opportunities.

Sure, you need confidence, but there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance – or being cocky. That line does move a little depending on how much charisma and charm you have to carry either off!

Fresh out of a company or organisation you will likely meet and talk to dozens or hundreds of people in pursuit of the next thing. Drop the arrogance then too. Most people you speak to won’t end up being part of your next thing, but you will almost certainly need them or come across them again in the future – often in the most unexpected ways. If they remember you as someone with humility rather than arrogance… it will serve you well.

Are You Brilliant?

If you’re going it alone or on to new pastures, work out first why you alone are brilliant.

You can ride on the coattails of your previous success for a while… though not for long.

What do you do, or want to do, that’s brilliant? No one else can work this out for you, and yes – it can be difficult, yet it’s necessary. If needs be – get help.

Once you know your brilliance – how does that support or serve anyone else brilliantly?

That’s how brilliant you need to be… now more than ever.