Last year was a proud moment in my five year young career. I got selected for the talents programme of my company. This programme, called “Future Leaders”, prepares high potentials to be leaders. Leaders of people, but also a leader for yourself. Part of the programme was a workshop entitled: “Are you a Multiplier or Diminisher?”.
So called “multipliers” increase other people’s capabilities. The “diminisher” will prevent others to reach their highest potential. Diminishing people’s capabilities is something we all did at one point, most of the time without us knowing that we do it. If, for example, you help a person that you think is in need, there is a possibility that you take away a chance for that person to fail and therefore learn? Another example of limiting a persons potential, is by giving this person not enough (or too much) responsibility. Feeling not involved (or under too much pressure), this person does not feel encouraged to use his or hers capabilities to the maximum.
It is obviously better to multiply other people’s capabilities. By giving them freedom of speech they feel trusted to speak up and say wise or brave words. Or sometimes limiting what people are allowed to say will let them think more before they speak. Every person needs a different approach to reach their full potential. Some need a save environment with space for error, and others need high pressure and a lot of responsibility to perform well. It takes a leader to listen to his or her team and find out what team member need what approach.
I am sure we all make mistakes and behaved like “diminishers” once. I think I have given some people too much freedom, people with a great sense of responsibility. Thinking this would lift their performance, their sense of responsibility drove them to overload themselves with work and get worn out. In other occasions I might have prevented people from making mistakes, while they needed to fail to learn effectively.
But it is not only other people’s talent you can diminish or multiply. I think all people are their own “multiplier” or “diminisher” in a way. I remember when I received the message that I was selected as a “Future Leader”, questions crossed my mind: “Why am I being selected? What are the selection criteria? I guess not too strict, since I am selected“. I doubted myself. And doubting your own talents blocks your path to growth.
Then, after acknowledging my talents, a second phase of insecurity started: ” Okay, so I am a talent. Now I can’t make mistakes and am not allowed to fail“. Diminishing myself again. It was only after accepting my faults and talents, that my growth and ambition multiplied. I saw that everybody has insecurities. This helped me to grant myself the rights to have them as well, and to make my own mistakes in order to learn. And sure, I still need to adjust to being a “talent” and acting on the foreground, but I know my strengths and opportunities, and I know how to multiply them.
And it is not only in my professional life that there are “multipliers” and “diminishers”. Doubting yourself, believing in yourself and having (in)securities is part of who and what you are. In my private life, as a photographer I behave like in my professional life. I can’t count the times that I diminished my photography skills because I got cranky that my shots weren’t as good as those of other photographers. And I also multiply my know-how of photography by blogging, practising, and having fun with my hobby.
Below are five photos that I have taken a while back. All these shots never made it online, because they just weren’t good enough. Today I decided not to diminish these pictures, but to show them and find potential!
Photo 1: Sleepers
The idea of the picture below was the pattern of the sleepers. But the light wasn’t great and the picture just wasn’t interesting. But it has potential! Maybe a different angle, better focus, and other crop and this photo will tell a story of sleepers not being used anymore and waiting for a new destination.
Photo 2: The station
The train station called “Blaak” in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, is a modern station with great architectural designs. The photo of this station below was diminished, because I liked the light and the lines, but it needed a stage. A larger aperture and using this platform as background for a portrait photo, and this would have been a good shot!
Photo 3: Just not good enough
Another photo that deserved more, is the one beneath. It was early, and I was not awake yet, so a bit sleepy I took this photo. I remember, after taking this photo, I looked at my camera and thought “Hmm, just not good enough“. Discouraged I walked back to my car and drove off. The scene is beautiful, and the weather conditions likewise! A picture that I decided to share after all, because it represents those early mornings.
Photo 4: Inspired by the road
Or how about the photo up next? I had an alternative in mind. The rain danced in front of my car headlights, while driving home. A lovely scene to capture. But in my mind, this photo was not special enough and I decided to reject it. But it tells the story of a rainy day, doesn’t it?
Photo 5: Minimalism
The final image is significant to me. I took it over a year and a half ago, and I have looked at it a couple of times ever since. The reason I never shared it with anyone? Because I think nobody would like it. This is probably my main diminishing behaviour. What others think is really important to me, but who do I photograph for? For other people, or for me? Do others really need to like my photos, or do I need to like them? I like this picture, because it is minimal and tells a slightly depressing story. A story, a feeling, an image, just for me. It represents the pressure I feel to perform, the pressure I feel to keep up my persona, and the fight for my own little world.
Thank you for reading! Tell me, do you diminish your own capabilities? If you do, from now on, start multiplying them!