Yes I AM really good at what I do!
This blog arose as part of a conversation between a group of like-minded women on Twitter about the way that we think and talk about ourselves as women. I don't claim that all of the things I'll discuss in this blog are exclusive to women, but I will give a woman's perspective on them.
I have spent the last ten years on senior leadership teams in high schools. When I applied for promotions for the last two posts I had, I had one interview and got first job I had applied for both times. During the interviews, I felt ready, I was exceptionally well prepared, confident I was more than capable of doing the job I'd applied for and being part of helping the schools to achieve their visions. Once I got the jobs however, a number of things started to get in the way.
The first was how I constantly compare myself to others. I look at others who are in the same or similar roles to me and see what a fantastic job they're doing and begin to question how well I am doing my role in comparison to them. As a deputy head, I looked around me at other deputy heads, in my school, in my local authority, on Twitter, and thought what a great job they seemed to be doing and how they must be so much better than me. Now I am a coach - and a really good one according to what my clients say about me - I look around at other coaches and think they must be so much better than me, that they're more competent, more knowledgeable, more successful. In writing this blog as a follow up to the Twitter conversation I mentioned at the start, I'm comparing my blog to theirs and coming to the conclusion that mine will be inferior. I don't know where this comes from but I know it's not a helpful way of thinking. It seriously affects my confidence.
Confidence is another major aspect of the conversation we've had on Twitter and it comes up so often in the coaching sessions I have with female senior leaders - women who say their goal is to feel more confident. These women have the same struggle as me. They are very successful, extremely competent women who are making a huge impact in their roles and lives. Yet they feel lacking in confidence in their abilities. It can take a serious amount of work with them to help them to see that they are good at what they do and really get them to believe it. Because that is what confidence is - a belief that you are good at what you do. Too often, we let doubts about our abilities affect our confidence. We compare ourselves to others. We allow the imposter syndrome to convince us we're frauds, that we'll be found out for being incompetent or making it up as we go along. We focus far too often on the things that we can't do as well, haven't done as well or mistakes we have made, rather than focusing on all of the things that we are really good at, our successes and the amount of learning that has come from our mistakes. This is something I have to constantly work on myself too. I've learned to focus on all of the things I'm good at and my successes. I write them down and make lists in my journal. I write positive affirmations and repeat them to myself so that I can move myself towards the point of self-belief because that is where confidence lies; I can build it for myself if I focus on what I am really good at, the great things I have achieved and how much I have grown and stop comparing myself to others.
I'm a work in progress. I'm getting better at selling myself - I have to learn how to do it if I want to earn my living! I'm still working on believing in myself and building my confidence at 44. But I know I'm good at what I do. Now I just need to work on telling others about it!