THE PROBLEM, SHE SAID, IS THAT I DON’T REALLY HAVE ANY SKILLS.
She had come to me to make a change. She had worked for a bunch of years in different roles. For the last ten, she had worked in a super prestigious organization which she absolutely LOATHED.
She wanted to go in a completely new direction. And she had a number of items on her wish list. But she kept coming back to the immutable obstacle that she just wasn’t qualified for any of them because she had no skills.
As impressive as her resume was, she was convinced that she had nothing to offer a new employer. For all its renown, she saw her previous company as a giant sham. And she considered all the work she had done there to be worthless, the time just frittered away.
As we talked, she agreed that she must have acquired some skills and knowledge in all that time. We teased them out and she admitted to being much more than minimally competent. Impressive, even. And she agreed, she should stop talking herself down.
But, the next week, she was back in that place of: I haven’t done this, I should have achieved that, and now here I am, completely useless, unskilled, and undeserving of employment.
The problem was: I believed in her worth, but SHE didn’t.
So this is what I said to her:
How do I know? Because we ALL do.
Nobody is impressive to themselves. On the outside it seems that way. But inside, we can feel like big fakers. This is why you should never compare your inside to someone else’s outside. You really have no idea what is going on there.
It is so easy to underestimate ourselves. We simply take for granted all the years of knowledge we have built up so painstakingly. We think, well, if WE know it, it just must be obvious. Everyone else on the planet must know this stuff too, right?
We downplay our experiences and skills the same way. We somehow think, if we did it, how hard could it ACTUALLY have been? Even if it was at the time. Since we mastered it, it must have just been a matter of putting one foot in front of the other and getting it done. Sound familiar?
And if you’re right where she was, wanting to make a change in your life, switch careers or start your own business, it’s extra excruciating. You want that break because you have become disillusioned with something: your company, your boss, your work itself. And it is easy to transfer that disappointment to yourself. If that boss, that company, that job was worse than useless, then you must be…even worse than that…
It’s even more painful if you have not followed one straight career path. At least if you have done that, piling up promotions and titles along the way, you have proof that other people thought you worthy. If you haven’t, however, it’s all down to you.
And there is a part of you that will not shut up with the negative self-talk. It’s like Ygritte is following you around constantly remarking:
You know NOTHING, Jon Snow.
But I am here to tell you that you do have mad knowledge, skills, and experience. You just need to find a way to shut that bitch up. And I have it.
YOU WILL DISCOVER WHAT YOU KNOW BY TAKING ACTION.
Sitting and thinking about it, trying to improve your attitude, and feel more positive about yourself IS NOT WORKING. What does work is taking action: actually trying whatever it is that you want to do. Ygritte has convinced you that you are useless. You need proof to the contrary. Stop theorizing about what it would be like and if you are really good enough, and get out there and try it.
How? Start small. But start now. Do it for free. Do it for your friends and family. But do it. You need to prove to yourself what you know and what you can do.
All your skills and knowledge are waiting there, lurking just beneath the surface like a river crocodile waiting for a juicy baby monkey to fall into its mouth. When that cute little critter loses its grip on the tree branch, that cayman is going to show itself in a hurry, lunging forward, bursting out of the Amazon, barking: I got this. Wait, do caymans bark? Ok, I am bad at metaphor.
But that’s how it’s going to happen. You’re not going to be able to help yourself. You’re going to rise to the challenge. You’re going to prove it to yourself. You’re going to realize what you know and remember all those skills you had forgotten about. And you’re going to love it.
YES, I KNOW YOU DON’T WANT TO DO IT YET.
You want to be smart. You want to be careful. You are thinking about it, strategizing, working on your plan. There is a fancy term for this kind of intensive intellectual preparation, isn’t there? Oh, yes, analysis paralysis.
Or you are waiting until you have finally really perfected your craft. What was it I read recently about perfection? That’s right. It doesn’t exist.
AS A BONUS, IT’S GOING TO FEEL AMAZING.
You probably feel pretty terrible about yourself at the moment. This will help. I know it’s scary. But it’s going to make you feel great. Every time you let fear stop you from doing something you want, your morale sinks right along with your self-esteem. But, every time there is something that you want to do that scares you, and you do it anyway, your self-esteem goes up.
AND YOU NEED TO FEEL AMAZING NOW.
This is the time you MOST need that confidence. Because you’re going to have to explain to someone else how it all makes sense. How your twenty years of family law practice have made you the ideal candidate for pastry school. And they have. And you will convince them. You just have to convince yourself first.
That’s going to take moxie. Right now you don’t have any moxie.
LET’S GO GET YOU SOME.