I work in an environment where appearances seem to matter more than talent. People are constantly being judged by the brand of bag, watch and jewellery they wear, the cars they drive and the places they’re seen at. I think I’m the only one who finds all this extremely superficial, and it has begun to affect my confidence and performance. How can I change the perception without rocking the boat? I love my job and don’t want to leave over something so trivial.

It seems to me that unfortunately you are working in a world focused on the trappings of success, and although you say it is something that’s not important to you, I wonder whether that is masking deeper feelings of insecurity.

It is natural that we sometimes feel threatened and undermined by people flaunting their material wealth; it can often feel like they are rubbing our noses in the fact that we aren’t doing as well as they are. But rather than confronting those feelings in ourselves, we project our annoyance outwards on to those who make us feel insecure.

I think it might be worthwhile to ask yourself why these people have the power to make you feel less confident if you don’t subscribe to their materialistic ways in the first place.

Surely, if you don’t see that as important, then it shouldn’t be so important to you. I totally agree with you when you say it would not be a good idea to leave a job you love for something you state is trivial, but maybe you should dig deep and ask yourself honestly why it bothers you so much.

The only way you can change things is to focus on your values and talents and stop comparing yourself to others. The more judgemental you are about how others choose to define success, the more likely you are to be held back by your fear of being judged. There’s a reason why you got the job in the first place and that’s most probably because you had the right skill set as well as personality to do it well.

The company showed its faith in you by giving you the job, so have a little faith in yourself, stop worrying about other people and focus on doing the best job you can. Maybe then you’ll be proven wrong about the importance of talent and hard work in the long term.