Guys! I am all about this question lately—when is the last time you did something that made you nervous? Something that really pushed your personal limits? Something that caused you to GROW?
Again, a huge reason why I quit my job. I enjoy pushing limits, challenging boundaries, testing bridges. Complacency makes me…well…bored. But I was real scared to push limits where I was working anymore because the impostor syndrome ate away at me damn near every day post-layoffs.
So want to know how I’m now fighting back on that impostor syndrome? I try to do something every single day that scares the crap out of me or that I think I can’t do. But rather than list ALL of the things I’ve done in the last month that scared the crap out of me…I’ll go with just the last 24 hours.
Here’s four things I did that made me REALLY uncomfortable in the last 24 hours but resulted in lots of personal growth—
2:30pm Wednesday: I pitched myself for a temporary fellowship to an executive director of a non-profit I’ve loved for years. There’s this great project brewing within their organization and I’d love to be a part of it. But I want to be a part of it in a way that makes sense for them and for me. I didn’t give the farm away. I shared what I hoped I could give them! But I also acknowledged the boundaries I’m looking for in order to support me in pursuing LIFE right now.
What I learned/How I grew: I’m ready to acknowledge that if I keep trying to fit everyone else’s “ideal ______” then that could come in direct conflict with my own vision for my “ideal LIFE.” Time to first acknowledge what that ideal life is and then ask if others are willing to work with it. Life first; career second. Not vice versa.
10:40am Wednesday: I sent an email pushing someone much my senior career-wise to dig deeper. Glad they read the book I gave them. But you know what would be even better? If they ACTED on it. SO I didn’t do what I would have done in the past leaving the conversation at “Way to go for reading the book!” I did what they would do and pushed deeper—I asked how they’re going to apply what they learned. You guys! It was fucking scary to do this. This person is intimidating, “high ranking” and considered “very important” in certain circles. But you know what? I did it for that very same reason. They’re in a place of influence & power. And well…
And I really want this person not just to know better by reading the book. I want them to actually DO better by considering changing up their typical “question everything & praise nothing, show absolutely no emotion, there’s no crying in baseball” (LOL) approach to get even better results. I want them to take off their mask a little and show the human that’s deep in there somewhere.
What I learned/How I Grew: I’m ready to acknowledge that if I keep trying to hold the boat steady I’m simply not being who I am. Fuck it if I lose people over it. I’m outspoken (shocking, right?!). I push limits. I jump & jump on bridges testing the hell out of them…or I just straight up light them on fire to see what happens. I LOVE change. I ADORE challenge. I thrive on it. I never want to forget this about myself. So I’m done leaving BIG things unsaid for fear of losing someone in my life. If they respect me enough they’ll tolerate the occasional testing of their ideals in exchange for me tolerating their own tests of my ideals. Yeah, it pisses me off when people push me too, but how else do we grow? Push & praise, push & praise. If we never push we never grow. But if the growth goes unpraised most will never want to get pushed again. Myself and this person included.
9am Wednesday: I went to my first weight lifting group fitness class at the YWCA! I always used to say “I hate group fitness. I’m a triathlete for a reason. I like to be a loner in my workouts!” But you know what? I was lying. I was just kind of scared/intimidated. I know, I know. An ironman triathlete intimidated by a little group fitness? Hell yeah I was! I had never even really tried it. I had a mini-group workout with a new friend (Hi Christie!) as part of a bigger event Saturday morning, but I knew I had to go for it…and on my own without a friend to support me.
What I learned/How I grew: I kind of liked it. SHIT! It was really fun to meet new people, admit what I didn’t know and kill what I did know. I wanted to lift more weights, do more reps, etc. than the woman sitting next to me. So I did! And I laughed when I couldn’t do anymore! The instructor was freakin’ awesome. I left feeling inspired by the sense of community and think this may end up being a regular Wednesday thing.
6pm Tuesday: I went to a Young Professionals of Minneapolis panel on Entrepreneurship. It was phenomenal! But when I first got there I realized the 3 people I knew in the group weren’t there yet. Hot damn. It was uncomfortable. For like 1 minute. Then I embraced it and I met this REALLY awesome new group of people in the process and talked about career dreams & aspirations. We also swapped political views & articles in a beautiful, respectful way.
What I learned/How I grew: I used to describe myself saying “I’m an introvert.” You guys. I am NOT an introvert. I love people. I love learning new things. I’m seeing I became an introvert over time because I was exhausted from feeling like I had to mask or “tone down” who I really was because I was constantly being told I was “too much.” I was too ___________ (outspoken, passionate, empathetic, hard-working, challenging, boundary testing, questioning, quick to blow things up, rebuild and/or fix).
Well, take it or leave it folks because I’m a builder and a fixer of impossible problems. I love to achieve that work by 1) getting supremely empathetic and crazy passionate and then 2) letting that passion & empathy pot boil over to inspire & mobilize the team I’ve crafted to tackle the issue. And I get high all over again by getting to coach them through the change!
So big picture what did I learn from the last 24 hours of scary experiences? Every time I do something new that makes me incredibly nervous I feel myself getting closer & closer to the person I truly am. And I also become more confident in knowing that the right & REAL people will stick by me. And some organization or future clients of mine out there will be incredibly LUCKY to have the FULL me. Not the masked me. Just think: if I can accomplish as much as I have masked, what the heck will I be able to do without the exhausting masks on?! Ooooo…that’s an exciting thing to imagine!
Question of the Post: When is the last time you did something that made you nervous? Something that really pushed your personal limits? Something that caused you to GROW? Tell me about it! Can’t think of anything recently? Or want to challenge my thinking on this topic? Please do! Like I said–I like a good shove every now and again. Any pitfalls to being unapologetically yourself?
Some people have said they want time to think about the question in advance. Well…here you go! 🙂
NEXT POST PREVIEW: What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
UPDATE: Here’s a great blog post I found on 21 proven ways to overcome impostor syndrome.