Recently, condensing criticism about an article I had written made me question my skills. Just for a second, self-doubt crept in. I am pretty sure that no matter how much you have achieved, everyone questions themselves from time to time.
None of us want to appear insecure at work which is why I loved the section of Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In when she talks about how women on occasion feel like impostors. Sheryl actually calls it impostor syndrome, and defines it as the shameful feeling that if they try to do something a man normally does, they’re likely to be exposed as frauds.
In a recent article in The New York Times Magazine titled Why Are There Still So Few Women in Science? I learned that young women in science and math are teased by teachers and made to feel insecure. It actually deters them from raising their hand because they start to doubt themselves. This quote from Professor Nancy Hopkins stood out: "I have found that when women win the nobel prize, someone is bound to tell me they did not deserve it, or the discovery was really made by a man...or that the woman really isn't that smart."
Regardless of gender, it makes the world of difference when you recognize you are being undervalued or unfairly criticized, brush off your self doubt and move confidently past it.
My friend Alexa Sherr Hartley of Premier Leadership Coaching sent me an email this morning and wrote: With the onset of the new year, we are all presented with yet another opportunity to see just how far we can go. However, as T.S. Eliot recognized, not all of us will act on this opportunity...not everyone is willing to take the risk required.
Yes, some of us let self doubt hold us back from taking risks and overshadow our chance to make our mark.
I happened upon an article in Women's Health Magazine written by Caroline Ghosn of Levo League who offers these 4 tips for getting past self doubt and trusting in your ability to achieve.
1. Embrace moments of doubt: When you have moments of doubt, reach out to a person you trust for advice and then move forward.
2. See beyond the setback: When faced with an uncertainty in your abilities, use it as an opportunty to grow your talents. Shift your mindset from "I can't do this" to "I can figure this out."
3. Find a mentor: Mentors build confidence and confidence kills self doubt. You can't expect someone to come to you so just ask. Remove all expectations of what this person looks like or what position he or she holds and and just look for someone with magnetic leadership qualities.
4. Never aim for perfect: Everyone makes mistakes. Cut yourself some slack by knowing which errors to let go of and which to make an effort to fix. Stay focused on what you do well and on whether you are reaching your overarching goals.
As for me, I brushed off the criticism of my article, reworked it and made it better. All of us need to feel safe in the knowledge that a weak moment does not equal a blow to our career or abilities as a professional, spouse, parent or friend.
Send off insecurities in 2014 and it could be your best year yet!