The Iceberg Effect

No matter who you are and what you do, it’s likely you feel undervalued for the work you do. You may not feel underpaid or unsatisfied, but you have probably thought at least once to yourself, “Man, if only that person knew how many hours it took to prepare this product, how many meetings I had to go to launch this idea, how many people it required to coordinate this event, how many years of trial and error it took for me to get to this point…” 

At some point, you have felt misunderstood in terms of the value of what you bring to the table, and it’s terribly, miserably heartbreaking to be misunderstood in this way: to show yourself—vulnerable and tired and scared—only for people to not even see you. 

The thing is, you know what it takes to be you and do what you do, but, only you know that. 

You might be:

-the mom who dropped all the kids off, paid the bills, cleaned the house, cooked dinner, picked up the kids, fed the kids, bathed the kids, fought the kids, fought yourself, all for Dad to come home and say, “Man what a day I had.”

-the teacher who spent hours researching ways to incorporate cool games and stories and toys into the lesson; who stayed up way too late and got to school way too early to make sure everything was prepared, all for the students to show up and ask to go to the bathroom, borrow a pencil or go see the nurse. 

-the accountant who made that extra follow-up phone call, came in on a Saturday to finish those files, perfected the presentation instead of taking a lunch break, put your personal life aside and stayed present during a meeting, all for a client to send a “Thanks!” email (or no email at all.) 

-the entrepreneur who sleeps wildly as ideas incessantly form and whose brain does not turn off; who balances critique and judgment with bravery and passion; who begins work in the wee hours of the morning in order to have time for a day job, too; who flails violently between self-doubt and confidence and inevitably ends up an emotional wreck at least once a week, all for someone to ask, “So you don’t have a real job?”

Whoever you are, you’re not thanked enough. No one ever is, and it’s not because we’re all ungrateful jerks, it’s because only we can see what goes into what we do. Like icebergs, the rest of the world only sees what’s above the surface. They do not see the “how” behind the “what,” or, even more personal, the “why.” They see product, results, reward. They see an expenditure of their time and their money, and value is determined from there. 

We’ve all been the undervalued and the undervalue-er, though. I challenge you to take time to truly recognize who and what someone is, and show them appreciation for what’s beneath the surface, not because you’ve seen it, but because you understand it. If we’re going to be icebergs, do we have to do it alone?