I just got off the phone with a potential client who broke my heart. The call started out full of possibilities. She told me about her unique skill set and how much potential there is to take her career to the next level. Companies need what she does and there are very few people who do it. She sees where she could be going, and others in her company see her potential as well. But, despite her unique skill set and years of experience, she’s not getting ahead.
Together, we uncovered that she’s reached that stage in her career where technical knowledge just isn’t enough. What matters most is relationships and the ability to win people over and earn their confidence. These are not skills she has yet, and she’s afraid she might never learn them. She thinks that maybe they’re meant for other people – people who are naturally confident.
She told me about one of those people who was hired at her company because he talked a good game. Turns out that he doesn’t have what it takes to do the work he was hired to do. All flash, no substance. It’s so frustrating to her to see him walk through the world as if he owns it, knowing that she does much better, more thoughtful, and more thorough work. She feels resentful of him and irritated with those around her who don’t see past his façade.
All of that frustration and resentment is taking a toll on her. She finds herself zoning out over dinner with her family. She’s grumpy with the kids, and she’s distant and distracted around her husband. She reaches for comfort food more often and has put on weight. The stress of it all has her tossing and turning wondering what to do.
Then came the moment that broke my heart. In one breath, she confidently insisted she could do the work so much better than this other guy. But in the next breath, she shrunk back from her power into fear and doubt. I could feel her disappear. “Maybe I wouldn’t really be so good at it. Maybe it takes too much energy,” she said. And just like that, she cut off her potential at the knees.
It’s a vicious cycle I see far too often that holds so many talented and smart people back. They stay stuck, living in that netherworld between, “I could be so much more,” and, “Maybe I can’t; maybe it’s too hard.”
Self-doubt can be the biggest career killer of all. But, it doesn’t have to be that way.
It’s natural and even productive to have some healthy self-doubt. That’s what keeps us from crashing ahead into work we’re not qualified to do, or so full of ourselves that we can’t take constructive criticism. There’s an important distinction, though, between keeping your ego in check and using unwarranted insecurities as an excuse to play it safe and settle for less than you’re capable of accomplishing. The truth is, you step into your beliefs whether they’re good or bad, right or wrong.
While most people get as far as they can on sheer experience and then stall out, a small handful of smart professionals are getting ahead despite feeling shy, or like they’re invisible. They’re discovering the quiet power of their own style, how to build authentic relationships at work that open up new opportunities. They’ve learned to push through the fear and doubt, and step into their own confidence, which earns them the respect and recognition they deserve.
Want to know how they do it? Join me on this free webinar where I’ll be pulling back the curtain and revealing the inside strategies these smart professionals used to get out of the Bermuda Triangle of self-doubt, and move full-steam ahead toward the future.