Letters Behind my Name

When we exchanged business cards, he looked at mine and asked, “Where are the letters behind your name?” I responded, “Do you remember that board member who graduated from XYZ college, but the school never heard of him? Or the guy who committed suicide because all the letters behind his name meant nothing? What about the politically appointed professionals who turned out to be frauds?”
He nodded, and I continued, “What did their letters mean?”
He was not convinced, “How do people know who you are and what you can do?” I shrugged and facetiously said, “I guess they can Google my name.” We both laughed, but he left me thinking.
When I recently qualified I proudly wrote the letters behind my name. As I became more comfortable with my profession and gained more experience I wrote the letters less and less. As my confidence level grew I determined that I no longer needed the letters to announce what I am, or what I have done; just as when I speak to someone I usually know whether or not they are the real deal, I presume that someone will do the same with me.
I admit that when I changed careers, I tried out the new letters behind my name, but the signature did not fit the way that I felt and I quickly dropped them.
Letters behind a name have uses. They announce us as professionals and give an inclination of what we can do. It is a way to be recognized by peers and the wider world. When I speak at a conference the organizers usually place letters behind my name to give the audience confidence to attend the session. Why then do I not write letters behind my name?
Letters do not speak of whom I am. They are a statement of what I am qualified to do, but give no indication of how well I do them. They are for the world, they are not for me because I know what I am and what I can do.
In the decade that I have stopped writing letters, my peers have never questioned if I belonged nor have they doubted my competence.
P.S. Since I stopped decorating my name I have been challenged only once. The client was furious since he could not use the notes that accompany the financial statements as a proposal to investors. I had to hold his hand while walking him through the difference between a business proposal and financial statements, while assuring him that the financials will be included in the proposal. ( Which kinda proves the point)
What do the letters behind your name mean to you?


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