Are Your Shoes Too Small?

I’ve been gathering a lot of inspiration in the first couple days of 2021. I’ve been paying attention – to messages, themes, patterns – in order to start reprioritizing my work. It feels exciting and terrifying, brave and vulnerable.

In addition to my L&D work, much of my 2021 focus is going to be on building out and connecting to my audience. For me, there is a level of discomfort that goes along with the idea of self-promotion, and yet I bring value. Do I owe it to the world, and to myself, to bring that gift forward? Yes. What we do matters.

I’ve been struggling with imposter syndrome for awhile now. What is imposter syndrome you ask? According to Wikipedia, imposter syndrome is a “psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their skills, talents or accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a ‘fraud'”. While counterintuitive, it is often times connected to success. Success breeds doubt, doubt breeds insecurity, and insecurity (for me) hooks me into a shame spiral.

According to Brené Brown, shame has two different monologues. The first is “I will never be good enough”, and if you can surpass that one you land in “Who do you think you are?” Imposter syndrome plays on both sides of the fence; as you waver back and forth, the doubt and insecurity get kicked up all over again and you spin. So if we know this, and recognize it happening, how do we get ourselves out?

We need to reframe imposter syndrome. One of my Dare to Lead colleagues, Eileen Rogers, says that if you are experiencing imposter syndrome you are playing “too small”. How does that manifest? Very simply, imposter syndrome can happen when you have outgrown your current role, or industry, or ambitions. Brilliant.

With that reframe, I think back on my own journey. I went to graduate school because I was bored and stagnant in my role. I applied to become a Certified Dare to Lead Facilitator because I wanted to start formally pivoting my career. I left my organization of nearly 12 years because I had outgrown it. It was like wearing shoes that were too small: well-loved, they had served their purpose but they had holes in them, smelled bad and were no longer comfortable. It was time for a change.

I am grateful for the lessons I am learning as of late, even the hard ones. They look like…

Humility and grounded confidence are not mutually exclusive. It is ok to stand my sacred ground with what I have to give.

It is ok to sit with discomfort and rumble with the vulnerability. Shaking up status quo and trying something new is courageous.

I am called to do this work. End of story.

I am going to let my work speak for itself in 2021. These new shoes will take a bit of getting used to, but they are going to take me places that my other shoes couldn’t. And in the sage words of my friend Charli Mills, “I give myself permission to pursue my dreams in small steps.”

Tell Me: Are your shoes too small? Where are you struggling to give yourself enough credit? What life lessons have you been learning lately?

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