What is your excellence?

When I read this post it was like reading my own mind. I am (as Anna and Aisling will happily testify) the WORST person at accepting compliments. I just don’t know how to react, and generally get really uncomfortable and make some deflecting, self-deprecating comment. So to be asked to stand up and tell people what my excellence is, as Carly has been asked to do? My worst night mare. 

But, in the interests of getting things started I am going to make myself incredibly uncomfortable, put all my fear to one side, and stand up and say…. My excellence is….managing people.

(MY GOD that was hard to do. I have sat here for a good 40 minutes coming up with different things and then ruling them out because other people might not agree. My excellence is clearly not in being decisive).

Now….you HAVE to join in and make me not feel so terribly un-british. Go and read Carly’s brilliant post and then in the comments let’s all hear what your excellence is – and I don’t care how hard it is, everyone should do this…

Things are changing  where I work. No more are we a team who says ‘ooh, I’m not very good at that’ we are now being asked to shout about how good we are. We were sent home for the summer holidays being asked to think what our excellence is, in time for a presentation to the staff when we return.

Now, I’m a confident, some might say very loud, kind of person. I’ll happily chat to anyone for hours about all manner of random crap. I’ll eagerly engage in a Beyonce booty shake whilst sober or tell a rude joke at the most inappropriate of moments. But, ask me to stand up in front of people and tell them what I’m good at?! Erm, no.

I’m the same with compliments – my Fiance and I are currently going through our foster carer training. The first home-study session started with the social worker asking him what he loved about me. Now on one side I was intrigued, it’s not very often that we sit down and chat through the reasons why we love each other , and I was really interested to hear what he had to say. Then on the other hand, BAM, he started to list the reasons and I visibly squirmed and found it really embarrassing. I was the same all through my teacher training, whenever I’d get good feedback I’d go bright red and then joke about swearing in front of the children or accidentally standing on one of them! (This never happened) but heaven forbid that someone might give me a compliment

I imagine conversations at our wedding in April going something like this.

Random guest; ‘Congratulations Carly, you look beautiful.’

Me: ‘ Ah, thanks but you should see how many pairs of spanx I’m wearing/how much I’m sweating/how long I sat in the make-up chair (you get the picture.)

I have been racking my brains all Summer as to what my excellence might be. I asked my Fiance and he said being highly inappropriate. Helpful? Not really. (In his defence, we both lack the seriousness gene and he thought it was a trick question.)  I was complaining to my line manager last week and she ended up getting a little bit cross and listed all of my achievements in my NQT year and asked me did I not think that was excellence? Well no, I don’t really, I just feel like I was doing my job!

Can I stand up and say that I am now an accomplished pom-pom maker? That I make a rather excellent brownie? That I can rap all of the words to Nicki Minaj Super Bass? I don’t think so. Particularly when this excellence is meant to be about attitude and how excellent we are as a person. Kill.Me.Now. If I were being asked to stand up and list the things I struggle with or am not very good at I would be attacking the list with gusto.

  • Impatient
  • Spend too much money
  • Bossy
  • Eats too much chocolate
  • Untidy
  • Constant worrying

I could go on, but I’d still quite like you to like me by the end of this post!

Is this just me? Am I the only person who struggles with this? Is it a British thing? I think that deep down, I know what I’m good at, but the thought of telling everyone brings me out in a cold sweat! Now, I don’t like a show off and I sometimes think that’s why I’m so reluctant to talk about things I’m good at. But is being aware of your ‘excellence’ showing off? It’s not like I’m going to make it into a t-shirt!

So, come on lovely ladies, help me out. What is your excellence? What would you say if you had to stand up and tell everyone what you were really good at doing? We all know that on these pages nobody is judged, so tell me yours and by the time this is published, I’ll be able to tell you what I finally came up with.

Categories: Life, Money and Career, Uncategorized, Wise Women
134 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Posted September 18, 2013 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    I’m going to have to ponder this and come back later but just had to say – so impressed at your rapping skills!

    • Carly
      Posted September 18, 2013 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

      Thanks. I don’t have the accent down pat so it’s a bit flat but I’m pretty darn proud. My twin can do it too, it’s a party piece to behold!


  2. RJ
    Posted September 18, 2013 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    I’m glad I don’t work where you work! My mind is racing around on a list of possible things I excel at swiftly followed by ‘but I’m not that good at that, other people are better at that, some days I’m rubbish at that, so-and-so might not agree I’m excellent at that…’

  3. Posted September 18, 2013 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    Typing on my phone so apologies for any typos…

    In both CBT and loving kindness meditations I’ve come against this question and it feels scary but here is my answer:

    I’m strong. I don’t give up. When I got so I’ll my immune system was attacking me I was determined to get to a point where I lived a normal life and I did. Life has presented me with a fair few set backs and though giving up or waiting to be rescued have seemed like tempting options I do always just keep putting one foot in front of the other until I get to the other side. If I’m faced with a task that’s daunting, sure I’ll be scared, but I’ll keep going until it is done. That’s my excellence, it might not be what I’d choose for it to be but its served me well this far.

    I can’t wait to hear what you decided to choose as yours, or what all these fabulous AOWettes have as theirs!

    • AJS
      Posted September 18, 2013 at 9:45 am | Permalink

      Siobhan – that’s just made me cry (stupid crazy pregnancy hormones!) x

    • Carly
      Posted September 18, 2013 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

      That’s an amazing excellence & one I wish I possessed. Excellent work on here today Siobhan – go to the top of the class!


    • Marie Pye
      Posted September 18, 2013 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

      I love this reply siobhan its just wonderful x

  4. Posted September 18, 2013 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    What a brilliant and interesting post! My excellence is… people skills. I like to think that I can listen, adapt to, be interested in and communicate well with all walks of life, and I somehow convince the majority of people I meet to like me. (I say the majority as, of course, we all have our bad days…!) I put this down to being essentially an only child (with a variety of step-siblings to grow up and get on with), and my acting background.

    Ok, so I wrote this down fairly easily but pressing ‘Post comment’ is definitely the part that’s making me squirm. Can we balance this out with a post about what we’re really, really bad at now??

    • Posted September 18, 2013 at 9:21 am | Permalink

      I think this is a really cool skill! And I am glad you shared it – hopefully we can get more people to say something nice about themselves!

    • Carly
      Posted September 18, 2013 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

      Pressing send is hard, as was standing up in front if everyone, but do you know what? It felt amazing afterwards!


  5. Posted September 18, 2013 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Why is this SO HARD?! Can’t we say why OTHER people are excellent?!

    I keep thinking of what I’ll say, and then thinking… blaaargghhhh but what if everyone else doesn’t think I’m excellent at that? They’ll kick me out of the AOWettes as a FRAUD (yes I am aware I just made this community sound like a majorettes marching band)…. and NO-ONE WILL LIKE ME EVER AGAIN, and I will be SO LONELY with my failed excellence.

    So… maybe my excellence is melodrama? No?

    Okay, I think it’s my determination. Once I decide to do something, it will get done, and it will get done well. I’m good at making things happen, once I actually decide they should happen (decision making however, not a strength)

    Interestingly, although I think this is my excellence, it isn’t the quality that I like most about myself, that one is my empathy.

    This was hard. I need a biscuit.

    KL xx

    • Posted September 18, 2013 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      I just missed my tube stop agonising about my excellence. Fail.

      KL x

      • Posted September 18, 2013 at 9:20 am | Permalink

        1. You are not a fraud. You are so many kinds of ace.

        2. You are determined. Own it. Like me it might not be your favourite quality you have but it is YOURS and you probably owe it a fair bit for where you are now? Why do you need to qualify it so much? You are determined. That is pretty f-ing cool.

        3. You are great. Have a biscuit.

        4. xxx

        • Posted September 18, 2013 at 11:29 am | Permalink

          You are such a superstar Siobhan! I think this was a backwards way of saying I think I have two excellences: determination and empathy. But I was too scared of appearing boastful to say two, so I had to ramble about biscuits and marching bands. As one does.

          KL x

          • Posted September 18, 2013 at 11:37 am | Permalink

            I would have picked empathy, communication AND determination for you KL…in fact I want to tell all the AOWettes what I love about them now which is NOT the point of the post!


            • Posted September 18, 2013 at 11:51 am | Permalink

              Have I ever mentioned how I LOVE YOU P?

              I really want to tell everyone what their excellences are, I know that isn’t the point so I’m holding it in. Maybe we should have another post where we all list excellences for everyone else?!

              KL x

              • Posted September 18, 2013 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

                Comedy – I just choked laughing over my lunch.

    • Posted September 18, 2013 at 9:20 am | Permalink

      Um, please can we have a majorettes marching band? I always fancied one of those uniforms.

      • Posted September 18, 2013 at 9:46 am | Permalink

        Ooh yes I want one of those little hats with all the gold trim

      • deltafoxtrotcharlie
        Posted September 18, 2013 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

        and twirly batons

    • Carly
      Posted September 18, 2013 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

      I hope you got your biscuit & got to work on time!

      It would appear to me from these very pages that you have many an excellence, so I’m glad you managed to get it down.


  6. Posted September 18, 2013 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    *SQUIRMS*…… Will come back later

  7. Posted September 18, 2013 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Oh this is hard, I work in a job where CBT is my daily life and it always comes up, I encourage my patients to always look at the what they are good at parts of life but then when I have to do it myself it’s hard.

    I am going to go with organisation, is that an excellence? I approach all problems in the same manner, get it organised in my head so I know what I am doing. It makes me feel more in control especially when things feel out of my control I suppose though it can come across as being a little bit of a control freak which is not an excellence……..God this is hard!

    • Posted September 18, 2013 at 10:31 am | Permalink

      I like the idea of taking a considered approach. I struggle with this so think it really is an excellence – please don’t turn this into a negative!

      (Sorry I feel really strongly that people should talk about themselves more positively so will be cheerleading here intermittently if no one minds?)

      • Amanda M
        Posted September 18, 2013 at 11:50 am | Permalink

        Well aren’t you just lovely. (Statement, not question)

      • Posted September 18, 2013 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

        You are right Siobhan, I do it everyday at work but struggle to put it into practice with me. I need to work on not turning things into negatives!

    • Carly
      Posted September 18, 2013 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

      Yep, it’s definitely an excellence and another one which I wish I had!

  8. Posted September 18, 2013 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Oh, I hate this. I’m going through job interviews at present and the question I hate the most is the ‘what are your biggest strengths’ one. When they ask the ‘biggest weaknesses’ one, I’m good at that one, in fact we could probably still be there with me listing things days later if they didn’t stop me.

    My excellence is my people skills and my caring/loyalty (which are pretty much all subsets of the same thing). You could probably guess that I care about people a little bit or I wouldn’t do what I do, but actually I care a huge amount and will do almost anything to help out a friend (in the past I’ve worked a 12hr day and then driven 200miles across the country for a friend who needed me). I love doing things to make people smile (which might also be making cookies too…)

    What did you come up with in the end Carly?? I also am dying to know what Anna K picks, I hope it’s lemon drizzle cake!!

    • Posted September 18, 2013 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      That is amazing Anita! I think the world needs more people like you and not all who do what you do, do it because they care about people you know – you are special and anyone who gets you is lucky.

      • Posted September 18, 2013 at 11:43 am | Permalink

        Siobhan, you absolutely rock. You are just brilliant.

    • Carly
      Posted September 18, 2013 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

      I’ve commented near the bottom! It was very work related in the end but that because of my audience. It wasn’t as bad as I’d anticipated though, it turned into a very sharing, almost cathartic experience.


    • Posted September 18, 2013 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

      Love this one! The world needs more people like you.

  9. Amanda M
    Posted September 18, 2013 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Skating right over the excellence question… I was very amused to read your bullets of what you’re not good at – seriously you could be describing me to a T!

    • Carly
      Posted September 18, 2013 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

      Hehe, lets hope our paths cross at some point then, we could cause havoc together!


      • Amanda M
        Posted September 18, 2013 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

        That sounds fun!

    • Posted September 18, 2013 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

      Oi! Amanda! Tell us! That’s shirking!

  10. Posted September 18, 2013 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    This is a brilliant post, and I am with both you and Clare in that I find celebrating my own successes and accepting compliments extremely difficult. I’ve just completed my career development form and found it so much easier to reel off areas for development, than highlight where I already have strengths. Because there’s always room for improvement, right?!

    My default answer for my strength is organisation. But that’s something that other people have told me, and I always question it anyway. I am about to head off to the hairdressers and promise that I will spend my time in the seat thinking about ways that I excel, even if I don’t come up with anything concrete at least it will be my positive thinking for the day!!

    Great post Carly xx

    • Posted September 18, 2013 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      I question it when people say I am organised as I only do it because I am so disorganised – but that is a strength I guess? Am looking forward to seeing what you come up with at the hairdresser!

      • Posted September 18, 2013 at 11:58 am | Permalink

        I know exactly where you’re coming from. People tell me I’m organised, but I always feel manic and disorganised! Maybe I’m just good at disguising it…

    • Carly
      Posted September 18, 2013 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Emma, it’s been wonderful reading all the comments today.


  11. Yanthé
    Posted September 18, 2013 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    Good grief. Also going to have to think and come back later but can I just say BRILLIANT post Carly!

    • Carly
      Posted September 18, 2013 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Yanthe! I didn’t think I could say that my scan rate on the checkouts was my excellence ;-)


  12. Posted September 18, 2013 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    The mere thought of having to come up with, and then vocalise my excellence fills me with dread… I’m *terrible* at accepting complements. I shall have a think and come back.

    Fabulous post Carly, it’s certainly pushed us all out of our comfort zone!! Well done you! xx

    • Posted September 18, 2013 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      As a random side note, I’m currently listening to Now That’s What I Call Disney (what?? I bought it for The Peas, honest!). Disney characters sure know how to proclaim their excellence! King Louis is the king of the swingers, Tigger has a whole damn song about how wonderful he is, Simba’s gonna be a mighty king… maybe we need to do it in song?!

    • Carly
      Posted September 18, 2013 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Steff! Have you had a think yet?!


  13. Posted September 18, 2013 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    Yep, it’s such a British thing. I hate compliments, I never know how to respond. Even when my husband says something nice, I have to make a joke about it or brush it off. Drives him mad. I used to work for a big company where we constantly had to fill out forms about how well we were performing – utter nightmare. Say good stuff about yourself and you felt hugely arrogant, say bad stuff and you got a lousy grading. I am so happy to have left that behind.

    So, my excellence… (I feel really awkward and embarrassed about TYPING this, I hate to think what would happen if I had to say it out loud. I’d probably spontaneously combust.) I’m going to go with generosity – giving my time to the important people in my life, finding ways to show how much I appreciate them – and ambition – I want to do EVERYTHING. Uh oh. I said two things, now everyone’s going to think I’m a massive jerk.

    I’m clearly going to spend the rest of the morning listing my defaults now to make myself feel better.

    • Posted September 18, 2013 at 10:36 am | Permalink

      Why would we think you are a massive jerk? Those both sound like EXCELLENT things. Please don’t list your faults – that is a much more sure fire way to make you feel bad, than feeling embarassed about being good at stuff. What would you say to yourself if you were your best friend and you said that?

      • Posted September 18, 2013 at 10:43 am | Permalink

        High five to Siobhan for her cheerleader role today!

        • Posted September 18, 2013 at 11:00 am | Permalink


          • Posted September 18, 2013 at 11:29 am | Permalink

            Thirded, Siobhan, you absolutely win today x

          • Gemma N
            Posted September 18, 2013 at 11:31 am | Permalink

            Thirded! I was just thinking the exact same thing :)

            • Posted September 18, 2013 at 11:40 am | Permalink


            • Posted September 18, 2013 at 11:49 am | Permalink

              Fourthed (?!). Thank you for knocking some sense into us. It just feels toe-curlingly embarrassing to talk about your strengths. Silly and totally illogical – why shouldn’t we be proud of them?

              • Posted September 18, 2013 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

                Again with the Siobhan-love!

                • Posted September 18, 2013 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

                  Thank you all xx This has made me smile like a smiley thing :)

        • deltafoxtrotcharlie
          Posted September 18, 2013 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

          I’m going for big tens :)

    • Carly
      Posted September 18, 2013 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

      Generosity is one of the best qualities someone can possess, I truly believe that!


  14. Posted September 18, 2013 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    I’ve decided mine is an ability to see things clearly and objectively and cut through the crap. My colleagues always turn to me when things need clarifying or interpreting or rationalising. I like that. I especially like it because it’s a skill I’ve taught myself.

    Can we have a post/discussion about how people find their niches in the world? I always wonder how many people find a career they love and how they’ve come to it, as I never have.

    • Gemma N
      Posted September 18, 2013 at 11:34 am | Permalink

      That would be really interesting. I’m the same, I think I’m good at my job, I like the place I work and what I’m doing it for, but somehow still don’t feel like the work / career is perfect. I’d really like to take my mat leave to think about what I really want to do, but don’t know where to start.

      • Posted September 18, 2013 at 11:47 am | Permalink

        I find this particularly interesting seeing as we basically have the same job!

        • Posted September 18, 2013 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

          I love your skill you described Amy – I think it is SO organisationally important to have someone with that – really key to management – particularly strategic management. I think a post on how to apply these would be good but in the mean time have you tried something like Skills Match? I have a skills match thing knocking about somewhere on the kinds of careers my skills suit me for…

          • Posted September 18, 2013 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

            Thanks S! Funnily enough that’s exactly what I think my next step should be. The difficulty is probably going to be in finding & getting it.

        • Gemma N
          Posted September 18, 2013 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

          Yeah, I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who said fundraising was their dream job, seems to be something people ‘fall’ into doing.

          Think your skill is quite similar to mine too!

          • Posted September 18, 2013 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

            I think I’m the only person I know who went into it 100% intentionally. But I also don’t think it’s the right thing for me.

            • Gemma N
              Posted September 18, 2013 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

              That’s interesting. I definitely went into charity work intentionally, but ended up fundraising as I volunteered somewhere for a while to get experience and that’s what I did there. There are aspects of it I like, but not all of it. But then I know lots of people who hate their jobs, and I definitely don’t feel like that, so overall I think I’m pretty lucky.

    • Carly
      Posted September 18, 2013 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

      Another skill I wish I possessed! Do you know, AOW readers would be a formidable force if we all got together!


    • Posted September 18, 2013 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

      I would also be really interested in a post in this, as another charity worker type, who sort of fell into it and isn’t sure what she wants to be when she grows up!

  15. Posted September 18, 2013 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    Oh gosh, I’m just going to go for it and then run away really fast! My excellence is…performing. I can stand up in front of a large room of people and they seem to see a confident, enthusiastic beaming person. They don’t see the butterflies in my stomach or a heart going like the clappers. It took a lot of practice to keep the shakes on the inside, not the outside. I thank the legacy of countless drama productions and piano exams as a child! *bolts for the door*

    • Posted September 18, 2013 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

      That is the key I think – you exude confidence and then people are confident in you – what an excellent thing to be able to do! Please stay! x

    • Carly
      Posted September 18, 2013 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

      Woop well done for sharing Helen!!


  16. Gemma N
    Posted September 18, 2013 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Have just read this while lying in bed still in my dressing gown feeling a bit sorry for myself and thinking I’m a bit useless as not getting on with anything! This kind of thing makes me squirm so much too, but it has encouraged me to go and get a shower and ponder what I’m good at so I can come back and tell you all! Good thinking always done in shower!

  17. deltafoxtrotcharlie
    Posted September 18, 2013 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    Oh my gosh, I LOVE all of these!!!

    Here’s the thing – you all sounds like amazing, well balanced, brilliant people and IN NO WAY arrogant etc etc.

    In my organisation, and in my job, I have to write quite a bit about stuff I’m good at and the more you do it, the easier it gets (trust me) so here we go… my excellence is getting shit done (and delegation which is a key part of getting shit done).

    Oh, and on the compliment thing – I used to be TERRIBLE at accepting compliments until I thought about how I feel when I pay someone a compliment and the other person ducks it, or brushes it off. They’re essentially saying I’m wrong. Which, given that I’ve told them my opinion on something, is kinda rude when you think about it!

    Say thank you, pay a compliment back and go on with your day with a little added glow.

    PS your hair looks great today :)

    • Posted September 18, 2013 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      Getting shit done is AMAZING. I love my colleagues but for some that is a struggle – if everyone I worked with had that as thier excellence well… maybe my job would become defunct! And writing? I’d love to write with more fluency – that is super cool.

      I’m the same about compliments – I used to find it hard but then it makes me sad when people tell me “no” about a lovely thing I want to say about them so I don’t want to do that to someone else x

      P.S. Thank you!

    • Carly
      Posted September 18, 2013 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

      I’ve never thought about it like this before, mingling to bear that in mind.


  18. Liz
    Posted September 18, 2013 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    I’ve just had a job interview (I got the job, yay!) where I had to talk about my biggest strength. I came up with Analytical Thinking. I’m good at being given a scenario, thinking through all the various options and consequences and coming up with a solution.

    However, writing this down I have realised I’m not so good at typing and spelling!

    • Posted September 18, 2013 at 11:51 am | Permalink


      • Liz
        Posted September 18, 2013 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

        Thank you Amy! Bit scary as I’m going to doing something a bit different after a year of maternity leave…

        • Posted September 18, 2013 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

          Congratulations on the job! Being a solution person is an asset so I am not surprised they wanted you!

          • Liz
            Posted September 18, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

            Ahh Siobhan, that’s a lovely thing say – thank you! X

  19. Hannah
    Posted September 18, 2013 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    Excellent post Carly!

    I should be better at this than I am, since I am one of the mean people that implement these ‘dreaded’ appraisal systems. My boss and I do the strengths/weaknesses/things I have improved/ things I need to improve conversations regularly but they don’t seem to get any easier. I am getting more specific though, so maybe practise will make perfect. I really admire my boss for being able to say straight out “I am great at THIS” and that she seems perfectly at ease with her weaknesses. I know my weaknesses but want to apologize for them instead of accepting that NO-ONE can be good at everything.

    As a Brit abroad, I think it is a particularly British thing to not be able to deal with compliments/ praise without adding some self-deprecating retort – whether you believe your putdown of yourself or not. I’m not sure how other cultures do it, but we Brits do seem particularly adept at self defense by seizing the opportunity to do ourselves down before others can. At the same time, I’m not sure that we excel at giving others good critical feedback either, since we don’t want to hurt their feelings.

    Ok, so having waffled for long enough I am excellent at … making people feel comfortable so that they open up to me. (Here comes the Brit-ness …) Obviously it doesn’t work 100% of the time but generally I think that I make a good first impression on people by being interested in them as well as warm and friendly.

    • Carly
      Posted September 18, 2013 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

      I think you are totally bang on about the critical feedback thing. It’s definitely something I need to work on.


  20. Posted September 18, 2013 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    I’ve just looked through some old job applications for inspiration for this, but still have the niggle-y feeling that they are all a bit “this is what the employer wants to hear” type stuff, as I personally don’t think I have any leadership skills, but there they are in my application form…

    As wedding preparation, our celebrant made us write down 3 things we loved about the other person. I did this no bother for my husband, but really wondered what he was going to say about me. So this is kind of cheating, but I think my excellence is being thoughtful. There is nothing I like more than picking out presents for people – I love spending ages thinking what someone would like to receive, I always make sure to text or call when I know someone has something important going on e.g. interview, first day at a new job or just they’ve been feeling a bit sh*t and need reminded someone cares about them, and I make sure to make time for friends even though my husband and I aren’t living together during the week at the moment. This leads right in to my worst trait though – I get so disappointed when people don’t reciprocate or appreciate my effort, and I really shouldn’t because a. that is really selfish and b. everyone has their own excellence, theirs might just not be the same as mine! x

    • Posted September 18, 2013 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

      This is an amazing excellence! I sometimes fail to be as thoughtful as I’d like to be… but I always notice when people are thoughtful to me and appreciate it very much!!

    • Carly
      Posted September 18, 2013 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

      I’m so with you on that one Lynsey. I hate it when you out effort in and you don’t get it back, it’s probably my biggest bugbear!


  21. Merida /Hobo Mummy
    Posted September 18, 2013 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    (Stands up, puts hand in air, clears throat…..) I am scarily optimistic x
    And this is a lovely gorgeous squishy post, thank you!

  22. deltafoxtrotcharlie
    Posted September 18, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    OK random thought/offer for the day…

    I am a mentor in my current job (specialising in project management but trained in mentoring overall). I would be totally happy to do some mentoring with any AOW-ettes who wanted it (but not til my EU bid has gone in on Friday pleeeeease)

    If you want to know more about mentoring, email me at clairekneller at yahoo dot co dot uk

    PS Interestingly, chrome tries to correct mentoring to tormenting, this is not accurate :)

  23. Carly
    Posted September 18, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    You lot have made my day! I am hurriedly reading all the comments on my lunch break but they are making me smile & I am glad to see I’m not the only one who struggled!

    So, I did it. I stood up & told my colleagues what my excellence is. I did go slightly work related and said that it was my passion to make sure that every child believed they could be whatever they want to be, which I do work sooo hard to do! But personally I think my skill is to read situations very well & know when to shut up or when to push it.

    I’m going to come back & have a proper look at all the comments later.


    • Posted September 18, 2013 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

      Ahhhhh your excellence made me teary

    • Gemma N
      Posted September 18, 2013 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

      That is really lovely. And well done you for standing up and saying it!

    • Posted September 18, 2013 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

      I love this excellence both of them. Well done for getting up there and doing it.

  24. Posted September 18, 2013 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    First things first – we’re going to need to see evidence of this rapping. It’s only fair.

    This is an amazing post and so interesting to read all the comments – and now I’m panicking at what to write for myself – everything I think of I feel like it can be qualified by “…apart from when x”!

    I’m going to leap in and say versatility is my excellence. I pick new things up quickly and adapt to changes easily where needed. Workwise I’m good at tackling whatever is thrown at me head-on without a fuss.

    Eek – feels so weird to be writing something like that!

    • Gemma N
      Posted September 18, 2013 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

      I’ve been thinking the same… ‘I’m pretty good at this, but not all the time’. But have decided that does’t mean it can’t be your excellence or a skill. No matter how good you are at something, no-one’s perfect and there are always going to be off days.

      Versatility is a great thing to have, for work and life in general. And well done for writing it.. I’m still plucking up courage to write mine.

    • Posted September 18, 2013 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

      Yup – the caveat on the end is the bit I have a problem with too!

    • Carly
      Posted September 18, 2013 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

      Haha, I’d be happy to demonstrate. It normally involves a few vinos first though!

      I’m glad you told us your excellence!


  25. Hannah
    Posted September 18, 2013 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    One more thing on preparing for an appraisal/ getting used to singing your own praises: At the end of each work day/ week, write down one thing you did well and one thing you would like to do well tomorrow/ next week (perhaps turning a criticism of today on its head, use positive language ladies!). Make a habit of it and it will become easier. When the time comes for your appraisal you will have a catalogue of things to work with in terms of what you do well consistenly and what you need to improve/ where you might need training/support/etc. If you manage others, take daily/weekly notes of things you were particularly pleased with or suggestions for improvements and you won’t risk your judgement being clouded by the most recent events when appraisal season rolls around. It feels weird to begin with but it also helps on days when you feel a bit useless to be able to look back at all the good things, however minor, that you have achieved.

    • Gemma N
      Posted September 18, 2013 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

      That’s a great tip, thank you! will definitely try that when I go back to work.

    • Beth
      Posted September 18, 2013 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

      Great advice Hannah x

  26. Gemma N
    Posted September 18, 2013 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    OK, so this has really struck a chord with me today. I started writing a mammoth comment to explain why, which almost turned into a blog post all of it’s own, and I don’t want to hi-jack this lovely thread, so I’ll try and be brave and just say what I think my good things are. (somehow still can’t bring myself to say it’s my excellence!).

    Work wise I would say my skills are being good at writing, and being very thorough/ logical and having the ability to think through problems/ processes clearly and rationally. But these seem pretty work-y and boring. So I’m going to go overall with remaining calm under pressure, which people have definitely said about me at work, but applies to home life as well – I tend to just be able to get on with things in difficult situations. (I suppose it’s linked to the rational thinking thing, as I can usually see what needs doing in what order, and just get on with it rather than flapping.) The reason I have pondered so long about this, is that I actually don’t feel like that at all at the moment, so I thought it couldn’t be ‘my excellence’. But then I suppose even things we are good at, we can’t be good at all the time. So I decided this was my thing, and it even made me buck my ideas up today, stop moping and just get on with some stuff. Cos that’s what I do.

    OK. Feel very uncomfortable putting this out there. But here goes…

    • Carly
      Posted September 18, 2013 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

      You are absolutely right and I am so glad you shared. No one can be excellent at their excellence all the time! I have written above what mine is and although I believe in it with all my heart there are hard days at work where I do lose my patience and get cross with my class & they probably don’t feel like they could achieve anything when I am doing my ‘cross’ face. As a mildly amusing aside, one of my pupils (age 4) told me today that when I get cross my face goes red. Excellent.

  27. Posted September 18, 2013 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    Ooh I think mine is the same as yours Gemma, I think I’m pretty un-flappable. Whether it’s a medical issue at work or things happening in my personal life, I’m good at standing back and making a plan to fix it, or learn to live with it, depending on the situation without panicking. I think it’s because I can always see both sides to every argument- I try to be fair to everyone in the situation, and things are much easier to handle if you can see all the options/opinions at stake. *phew* that was tough!

    • Carly
      Posted September 18, 2013 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

      Ahhhhh, unflappability – my holy grail!


  28. Posted September 18, 2013 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    I’m still thinking about mine.

    • Posted September 18, 2013 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

      I’m torn between it being child raising and flower crown making…

  29. Elsie
    Posted September 18, 2013 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    I wish I’d had time to sit & read this properly this morning so I could have had the day to ponder what my excellence is because it certainly isn’t decisiveness…

  30. Elsie
    Posted September 18, 2013 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    Also, I am voting this as one of my favourite posts & collection of comments ever. No matter how big headed it makes you feel recognising your skills should be done more & without having to feel awkward or embarrased about it. Ta Carly, you Nicki Minaj rapping legend.

    • Carly
      Posted September 18, 2013 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

      Excellent! I’m so chuffed that my post has prompted so many people to comment! So, you still need to tell us your excellence, lady.


  31. Marie Pye
    Posted September 18, 2013 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

    I want to read all of this and just immerse myself in everyones wonderfulness (unfortunately I now have to read a SCR and will be crying lots), I must say I want Siobhan to be my personal coach! I think this is a female thing too – we find it really hard to just say yeah this is something I rock at in case we are seen as too strongly opinionated.
    I started off as one thing and then I added because I found ways of wriggling out of that (I’m never on time for example). Totally agree with Deltafoxtrotcharlie and try and take compliments in the light I give them, I also try really hard to compliment people around me as much as I can. I want them to know I notice them and how happy they make me being in my world.

    Here goes:
    I am really organised and very good at motivating things to get going. I tend to be really good at ideas and getting things started, not so good at following through. I also did a strength testing thing that said I had WOO (I love telling people that it really makes me laugh) Winning, Others, Over.


    • Carly
      Posted September 18, 2013 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

      Woo for you!


      • Marie Pye
        Posted September 19, 2013 at 11:19 am | Permalink

        I know its great I turn into an american frat boy arms in air “Woo”

  32. Posted September 18, 2013 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    I have been thinking about this all day. It’s been something that’s been on my mind quite a lot recently for various reasons. We do annual appraisals at work, and my Manager made me think of 3 things that I am good at. She that I’d gone “all Yorkshire” about it, as I sat there visibly uncomfortable. But actually, I felt really positive about it all for ages afterwards. The thing is, it’s what I’m good at outside of work that I’ve spent the day thinking about. To me, being good at work stuff just means I’m good at my job.
    I do occasionally have a whinge about not being good at anything, because everything I am good at comes with a “but…” afterwards.
    e.g: I am a really good cook, but I’m not excellent, I’ll never win Masterchef. I need to stop at the but and swap it for: I can cook a really wide variety of healthy cheap and nutritious meals without needing a book.

    I do think what I am excellent at is compassion. Or maybe having a good gut for knowing when someone needs a bit of help from someone? I put cold and confused old men into taxis after other people have walked past them, and call ambulances for unconscious drug addicts when noone else will hang around in a dodgy area. I didn’t actually realise it what I was excellent at until a friend said something to me recently about it. She told me that when her dad died, even though we’re more social friends than close, I was the only person who asked about his death – whether it was peaceful, whether she was with him etc and that didn’t skirt around the subject, and that talking it through was helpful.

    Oof writing that makes me sound a bit sanctimonious!

    • Marie Pye
      Posted September 18, 2013 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

      Wow what a wonderful thing to excel at – actually someone listening and hearing you when you are grieving is such an important thing….you can be so proud of that Gwen.x

  33. Amanda M
    Posted September 18, 2013 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    I think mine is integrity. Not very fashionable and in fact my husband calls me Jane-Austen-girl because manners are really important to me – even if no-one else observes them. I’m the idiot politely letting people get off the tube and people who were there before me get on. And I once turned down a job I really wanted because I found out there was someone doing a perfectly good job in it already – I had just interviewed better.

    • Posted September 18, 2013 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

      I really respect that Amanda, so few people have manners these days – I sound about 95 writing that (I’m 26, honest!). I think the world would be a wee bit more pleasant if everyone had your excellence! I’m especially impressed at you turning down the job on principle, and I bet that person appreciated it so much. x

  34. Elsie
    Posted September 19, 2013 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    I worked out what my excellence is.

    I’m not sure how I’d phrase this on a professional CV or what words would fit but in a 7am bleary eyed, badly worded, not yet had a morning caffeine fix kind of way my excellence is that I really ruddy care about people. I put a lot of thought into things I can do for them or say to them.

    It’s hard to describe without sounding like the biggest ‘I am’ ever isn’t it.

  35. Posted September 19, 2013 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    What a great thread to read through, shame I forgot to check yesterday!

    I don’t think I have an excellence. There are things I might have said in the past but I’m not so sure anymore.
    But on a superficial note, I am bloody brilliant at parallel parking and don’t care who knows it!

    • Marie Pye
      Posted September 19, 2013 at 11:22 am | Permalink

      I am sure there are lots and lots of things that you are brilliant at Linsey. Maybe you could start by thinking of the things that you would have said and working through why that has changed? Like if you used to have a certain strength and then life has changed that maybe your new strength is carrying on anyway?

      I so wish I was good at parallel parking I just avoid it because I hate being bad at things!

    • Posted September 19, 2013 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

      Yes you do! It took me all day to think of mine. There will be one in there somewhere.

      Also – jealous of the parallel parking. I hate it.

    • Posted September 19, 2013 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

      I love a good parallel park. I have been known to take pictures of particularly tricky endeavours. I’m still stuck on my excellence though too…

  36. Posted September 19, 2013 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    On the accepting compliments thing, all day at my wedding people said “you look beautiful”etc and my reply was “oh, I made a bit of an effort…”

    We also did this at wedding prep and stuff Dan said was genuinely stuff I’d never thought about myself. Apparently I’m kind and caring. There you go.
    But if I was picking my own I would say I see the bigger picture of a situation and can think logically about how to approach it. This ranges from helping the project managers at my old job (I was too junior to manage myself…) to “what shall we do today?” “I’ve come up with this list of 5 options, darling”

    Go everyone with their excellences.

  37. Posted September 19, 2013 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    I’m back. My excellence is my imagination.
    My biggest shortcoming is not seeing things through but that’s because I’m an ideas person.

  38. Jessie
    Posted September 19, 2013 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    I read this late last night and stayed up thinking about it. This not only inspired me to reflect on my own strengths, but to talk to my five year daughter about hers as well. We had a great talk on the way to school about confidence and what she likes about herself. We walked and shared thoughts about what we are great at. It was a beautiful conversation. I left her feeling like I did something great; This morning I was super mom! ;) In conclusion, I would say my excellence is kindness. I easily see the good in others, except them, and forgive. I’m thrilled that I found your site through Instagram yesterday. xoxo

    • Marie Pye
      Posted September 19, 2013 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

      So glad you had that convo – so easy to forget to do this with the smalls – I think you can add being a great mother to that then too.

  39. Jessie
    Posted September 19, 2013 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    *That would be accept. That’s what happens when I am distracted and I don’t proof read. argh, this mistake will bother me for the rest of the day! But we won’t go into weaknesses. ;)

  40. ChirstyMac
    Posted September 19, 2013 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    I love this post! And Siobhan for the awesome life-affirming self-believing cheerleading!

    My excellence is my short term memory and it’s knock-on effects on my multi-tasking ability. I never even really realised this as a strength until a few years ago in my current job but am starting to respect that it is something I do excel in and should admit to.

    It can get a bit wearing when everyone at work asks you for the best contact or what client did what when rather than just look it up on the database, but I appreciate that I can usually just reel off the info faster than it would take to look.

    And I think probably the main reason I am good at my job is because this means I can metaphorically spin a lot of plates in my head at once: deal with a million simultaneous things, and still remember where we are with any one of them at any one time.

    I think what is interesting about this exercise is as much what we each WISH our excellence was! I would LOVE to have Siobhan’s strength: I am anxious all the time and perpetually petrified of things I don’t think I can handle. And would KILL to be able to parallel park at all, let alone as well as Linsey! (2 caved in side panels on the only 2 attempts I have ever made. Have stopped trying for the good of all cars out there)

    Go team! I love all your excellence :) X

  41. Posted September 19, 2013 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    So, this has taken me until now to come up with my excellence, but here we go: I am excellent at sorting things out. Coming up with a solution to something and getting things done. If a friend has a problem then I’m really good at coming up with suggestions to help them.

    I also make an amazing white sauce.

  42. Posted September 19, 2013 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    Ok I am here a day late, this is hard to write and I really had to think it through. But I think it’s kindness. I care about people, I want to make sure they are comfortable / helped. Which was probably why I was really good at customer care (without me expecting it before hand), as I wrote things down, and followed up and made sure questions were answered. I like to cook for people, find the perfect gift….I guess that’s ti.

  43. Ruth
    Posted September 19, 2013 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    What an amazing post. Sorry I missed it yesterday. I really believe its good for us to be proud of our skills and what we do well. My excellence is persistence. I’m not one to give up once I’ve decided to do something. Even if its hard sometimes.

    Thanks for such a thought provoking post.

  44. Posted September 20, 2013 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    I’m going to sneak in with mine, now that no one will really notice it :-P I found it really difficult to put something down on Wednesday, and have been trying to get out of putting something down ever since!

    The more I think about it, though, the more I can’t choose one thing. Not because I think I am this amazing person with a multitude of excellences, but because I think often what we are good at is interlinked. Time management skills usually mean a person is organised etc etc. When I think of an excellence, all I can think of is the reason I’m good at A is because I’m also good at B. So, here goes a long comment, where it may look like I’m proclaiming how wonderful I am, but I promise I’m not! *squirms*

    I am an excellent listener. I’d rather hear someone else’s life story, and what went on in their day, then tell someone mine – I love hearing people talk, watching people talk and learning their stories. I also find myself eavesdropping on other people’s conversations, unwittingly.

    My memory is freakishly good. Which links into my listening excellence, because I can often reel off entire conversations in order to settle an argument (usually where I’m arguing so and so said x), or remind colleagues of things that have happened. I remember things I’ve read (although not as much as I’ve heard) and things I’ve seen. Which is sometimes wonderful – I have very vivid memories of my amazing grandfather, but is also a bit of a curse – I remember horrible things I’ve said/done and so many ways I’ve embarrassed myself.

    I’m also very perceptive. I guess things very easily, because I’ll remember snippets of information and piece them together. Because of listening to others, I can tell from nuances in their voice that they’re upset or excited about something.

    I have all those other work based skills – team working, organisation, initiative etc, but I’m good at them, not necessarily excellent at it.

    • Hannah
      Posted September 20, 2013 at 9:27 am | Permalink

      Crysta, I think you might be my twin! I often wonder what other great things I could do if I wasn’t using so much brain power remembering stuff, whether good or bad.

  45. Posted September 20, 2013 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    I’ve noticed it Crysta! And these are some pretty amazing excellences you have there. I am a lot like you with the listening stuff (and LOVE eavesdropping on others’ conversations!!)

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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