I wrote a note to a very successful blogger and leadership coach once, that was slightly critical — I greatly like her work and still follow it. She would temper her sales pitches with feelings of anxiety and fear over what she was asking and how it made her ill to ask for business (though she had complete faith in what she could do for you). She was in effect saying, “How dare I?”
It perplexed me. I had to let her know. She responded on her blog in defense of her openness. She trusted her community where authenticity was valued over all else. I respected that. But I also wondered what else was going on.
Her language has shifted recently, and without any loss of authenticity, and not because of me. But I wonder if she went through a process similar to the one I have been experiencing recently, one that has helped me feel more empathy for her than I had at the time?
I’ve had a touch of “imposter syndrome”. It is nothing new. The Emperor’s New Clothes is an ode to the deep fear most of us have that the world will discover we have zero expertise and we will be discovered in fraudulence. It is one of the many well documented reasons people walk away from promotions and opportunities. It affects men and women equally (though the female variety tends to get more press).
My life is filled with opportunities for which I am well suited and can claim experience and competence. And yet a few weeks ago in a meeting I froze, minimizing my contribution. I was asking, “How dare I?” The meeting was with trusted partners and I was able to clarify and regroup the next time we spoke. But it threw me. Why would I do that? Why would I torture myself in false modesty that served no one?
In hindsight, I am grateful for the experience. It forced me to shake myself up and re-evaluate what I am bringing to everything I do. Taking stock of my true strengths and assets has shored me up against critics. Those critics are teaching me that when you make a stand, no one is paying attention until someone disagrees with you. It’s forcing me to up my game in my mothering, my community work, my professional life and all the many things I care about.
I recommit to mothers’ voices daring to be heard to improve the world around them, and it starts with this voice. My voice. How dare I?
Guess what? I dare.
I am hosting a call this Wednesday Feb 22nd at 7pm EST (4pm PST) with author of Dare, Dream, Do: Remarkable Things Happen When You Dare to Dream, Whitney Johnson. It’s $10, 30% of which goes to The Microlending Project documentary film to illustrate the life and community changing nature of women and micro finance. You can learn more and register here.
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