Caught Between “Nervous Narcissist” and “Market Maniac”

Perhaps you can relate to a recurring dilemma in the quest to construct a search for meaningful work. We find ourselves dealing with the feelings of being a “nervous narcissist” or a “market maniac”. These two characters are often having an argument in our head (and our subconscious) as we sit at our desk and try decide what actions to take today in the quest for new work.

Market Maniac is outward-focused and constantly scanning job listings and internet resources. The Maniac is right about one thing: you have to be aware of what the market wants to match your talent to it. But all of that screen time and looking for j-o-b-s instead of searching for work is really not productive.

The Nervous Narcissist is self-conscious and nervous about speaking their story of success and accomplishment. Their inner dialogue goes something like, “I don’t want to sound presumptuous and like I’m bragging. I’ll just list my past job responsibilities and titles and let them ask me questions.”brain emoticons

Here’s the market reality behind these two states of being: As “Talent” you must learn how to shuttle between healthy versions of these two characters and take out the “nervous” and “manic” qualities. You have to focus inward and outward. You can’t hide behind your claim of being an introvert or an extrovert and thereby defer the behaviors that are less comfortable for you.

The healthy narcissist can be just a confident You that is being articulate and clear about accomplishments and results you’ve achieved. That’s what people need to hear to substantiate your claims that you’re a match for their work. Your networking contact needs to hear that to be confident that you are a person that they can credibly introduce to a colleague. Just saying you can do something or that you have a certain skill isn’t enough. Tell standout stories about your accomplishments or the person who is a better storyteller will win the work.

You’ve got to dig for those accomplishment stories in your past. Borrow other people’s memory. Often, when you go back to talk with former colleagues, you find that they recall things you did that impressed them. No doubt these acts were so natural or easy for you that you barely even remember them.

Tame the Market Maniac and what do you get? A Talent that is knowledgeable about their target markets and has a clear Focus of Inquiry into the P.I.N.T. for each market and target organization (See my blog Design Your Focus of Inquiry for Lower Stress Networking. They aren’t spending massive amounts of time in front of their computer just gathering information that’s publicly available to everyone. They’re spending more time talking to relevant professionals who are close to work that need to be done as well as open j-o-b-s (they’re not always the same thing). They are developing a few insider insights into their markets that will help them seem more like a “member of the tribe” than an outsider when they interview.

Finally, if you need help sorting out the debate in your head between your Market Maniac and Nervous Narcissist, sometimes a career coach can act as a “referee.”  The coach can also guide you in how to take more truly productive action in your search and get the meaningful work you are really seeking.

BruceHazenheadshotsmBruce Hazen, MS
Three Questions Consulting
Bruce is a career and management coach working with professionals who are at career crossroads and wanting answers and action strategies for one or more of The Three Career Questions:

1. When is it time to move up?
2. When is it time to move out?
3. When is it time to adapt my style for greater success?

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