I am good at what I do. This is a simple, blanket truth. I am not bragging or trying to sell myself as something I am not. Despite this, I live in constant fear that someone might realize that I’m faking it and making it all up as I go. Spoiler alert: we’re all making it up as we go in some fashion or another. There is no shame in being aware of your own skillset and prowess. I am a project manager and I function well in a constant state of chaos and uncertainty. Dates, facts, timelines and contacts all find careful nooks in the edges of my brain, waiting to be unearthed as required. Even still, there is a neverending sense of unease that I somehow don’t belong.
1. There is no shame in being aware of your own skillset and prowess.
I need to shake my head and remind myself that the only way to get good at something is to fail miserably and then not do it that way again. Oftentimes, the key is not in ensuring that everything goes as planned but being able to recognize when things are going wrong and being able to act in a way that gets them back on track. Recognition is nothing without the appropriate reaction. An equally vital skill is recognizing when you are in over your head and it’s time to call in a subject matter expert. No single person can know everything so you need to know how to access the expertise that you need. Asking for help is not a weakness and does not make me bad at my job. It’s far better to admit “I don’t know but I know how to find out” rather than to blunder your way through something and make a giant mess out of the whole thing.
2. Recognition is nothing without the appropriate reaction.
Projects, like life, rarely follow a simple plan from A to B. There have been many times that I have had to pick up the phone and make the call admitted that I have screwed up horrendously. Nobody likes admitting that they made a mistake but it’s better to own up to it directly rather than having someone find out and call you on it later. The earlier that you admit a mistake, the easier it is to perform damage control and limit the ripple effect of the consequences. Acknowledging your mistakes also makes people more willing to trust you when you say that you can do something because they’ve seen you admit when you can’t.
3. The earlier that you admit a mistake, the easier it is to perform damage control and limit the ripple effect of the consequences.
People from all genders, ages, backgrounds and industries suffer from something called imposter syndrome. It’s not enough to simply possess achievements, personal or professional, and collect them like participation badges. Know that your position, a promotion, or words of praise are things that you have worked for and earned. Go out, do whatever it is that you do well and be proud of it. There will be enough people in this world who will try to discourage you and bring you down. Don’t be one of them.