Raise Your Hand . . . Again | Career Angles

By Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

Many people, myself, as well, have written about the mind-numbing quality of the school system (for future reference, anything that refers to itself as a “system” is something to avoid). Between it’s preparation for the world of work through obedience and memorization, we also learn peer pressure in school.

When I went to school, there was clearly male gender pressure (I can’t say with certainty that it existed for girls in the same way. I don’t think it did, at least in the school I went to). You didn’t try to appear too smart and you certainly didn’t want to be publicly embarrassed for a wrong answer when asked a question by a teacher, so we stopped raising our hand to be called on.

And that carried through college and into the workforce where volunteering was looked down upon by co-workers. “Brown nosing” was the term used for someone who volunteered so much and was so “good” and put in so much effort that their nose was their nose was . . . I don’t have to be explicit about where their nose was thought to be.

Thus, I learned that being one of the guys (that included women) and “getting along” and not being so “big” or “outstanding” kept me safe from criticism. In Australia, the term, “tall poppy syndrome” refers to a tendency in Australian society to try and cut people down to size who are considered to be too successful or prominent (cutting the tall poppies down to size) because, generally, they don’t like others to do too well.

I know I learned that lesson much too well but now is a different time when, frankly, I believe it is important for people to buck the system and raise their hand again. Speak up in meetings. Volunteer for assignments. Be great!

Not long ago, a man I know and love walked over to me and asked, “Why do you keep doing things to stand out? Why can’t you be one of the guys?” I answered, “I have spent much of my life doing exactly that and now, I want to be with people who will support me with being great, not going along and getting along.”

Can you pick one place to start practicing? Just one to start. When you’ve done one for a few weeks, add a second place to (metaphorically) raise your hand and do great things. You may fail at some but don’t go back to getting along.

You will help your organization AND you a lot!


So, raise your hand a lot! Watch how things change.


© The Big Game Hunter, Inc. Asheville, NC  2018, 2024    

Referring to Everyone as Guys


People hire Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter to provide No BS job search coaching and career advice globally because he makes job search and succeeding in your career easier. 

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