Whenever I climb I am followed by a dog called ‘Ego’. — Friedrich Nietzsche
I received an interesting question from one of my readers – “Should I create a trophy wall or not?”
In truth the answer depends on why you think you need one, and getting the real answer to this question requires considerable honesty with yourself.
There are specific circumstances when having certificates or licenses visible to potential customers can give those visitors to your office greater confidence in your abilities. There are also legal requirements in some occupations to show such paperwork in a visible place. However these legally required items are often better shown in a common reception area along with all the partners or other registered colleagues in a company. Such a common area boosts everyone’s image and that of your organization.
As for the direct question should one hang certificates and other achievements on your office or home wall, I would prefer to rephrase it as “Why do you feel the need to display your achievements?”. A piece of paper will only get you respect from people who confuse bits of paper with real achievements in advancing your organization and the society in which you live.
Very often you can learn a lot about a person’s insecurities by what they put on their trophy wall. As in the same way you can tell a lot by how someone lists their qualifications and professional designations in their emails.
Yes you earned them all. Yes you are proud of them all. But they are not part of your legacy as a leader. Your achievements to advancement are your legacy and those are almost always made by teamwork towards a shared vision of positive change; not by big egos bloated by their own self importance.
Colleagues within your organization already know who you are, and if you are following right behavior (see my earlier posts), they respect you because of your actions, intentions and shared achievements to common advancement. They do not care what degrees you have or where you went to school. Yes those things helped make you what you are but they should not be all that you are or will become.
So some suggestions: if you must display your achievements on walls or emails or letters just display the highest achievement and not the subordinate ones that are pre-requisites. It will save space and framing costs and it shows some level of self awareness of the perils of worshiping your own ego. Internal documents within your organization really just need your signature or initials – everyone knows who you are and if they do not then you are not doing a good enough job!