When we’re uncomfortable or insecure in our abilities or how we’re doing things, we tend to become defensive and begin to question our work at the slightest sign of judgement. We need to own what we know, what we believe in, what we stand for. Otherwise, when others question it — or even when we simply think others are questioning it — it turns the spotlight onto us and all of a sudden we’re not so sure about what we’re doing. All those inklings of self-doubt come to the surface.
I’ve talked about it before, but this shows up for me most when it comes to owning my “job title”, or “what I do”. I’ve worked really hard to be proud of my unique mix of skills and experience, and yet when a piece of that is questioned or when I feel like I’m not fully equipped to handle a project or challenge, all that flies out the door.
That tiny “crack” of self doubt allows the whole thing to come crashing down if I’m not careful. So instead, I’m trying to focus on learning opportunities that might come out of a challenge and asking myself how I can rise to the occasion.
This Leonard Cohen lyric pretty much sums it up: "There's a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in."
In the same way that we need to be confident in who we are and what we do, it’s also important to own what we don’t know, and instead of viewing that as a sign of weakness, think of ways we can overcome it. That might mean bringing on a project collaborator who is an expert in an area that complements yours, taking a course in order to add a new skill to your toolkit, or even saying no to an opportunity you don’t feel equipped for so that you can say yes to one that is a better fit.
It’s important to recognize that you can’t be an expert in everything, but you can create your own area of expertise and your own special blend of magic in what you do and what you offer. Embrace your vulnerability and imperfection. Be ok with being uncomfortable and let that propel you forward instead of holding you back. This is how we grow and evolve.