I spent years believing that my boss wanted to fire me. At any point in those years, although not the outcome I would have wanted, I’d have agreed that they should go ahead and do it.
The crazy part is: throughout that time I would get promotions, salary boosts, bonuses, and I even got entrusted to kickstart a new department from the ground up within the company. But with each recognition, I would be overcome by a feeling of inadequacy. I’d think “Sure, I’m now at a Senior position, but I don’t deserve it. A true Senior would be someone that’s better, smarter, more capable and skilled than me.” And, soon enough, my performance would tank (enter fear of being fired) because I was busy thinking self-deprecating thoughts. Some would call this the self-fulfilling prophecy of ‘What you think – you become.’
So, what in the world was going on?
Believe me, I was also surprised that the answer found me in the form of TikTok videos in the midst of a pandemic. But there they were, fellow Millennials and young Zoomers, describing a phenomenon of doubting their abilities and feeling like fraudsters in their achievements, despite evidence to the contrary. (cheezy, I know)
I’m not the only one.
I’m not losing my mind.
And I refuse to accept this pattern of thinking as normal.
If you’re going through similar motions, you shouldn’t settle either! Although self-doubt is a common experience (unless you’re Kanye), it doesn’t have to be a permanent one. I can guarantee it will hinder your career and life advancements – I got promoted, but I also got demoted (twice!). Five years later, I got Partner status. And, here’s what I wish I knew earlier…
You have a limited pool of energy
Multitasking is a myth. If you imagine your energy pool as a pie chart, there’s only a finite number of portions you can slice it into. You can’t have both paralyzing fear and amazing growth be the dominant portion of the pie at the same time.
If you allow yourself to get stuck in a mindset of questioning your abilities, second-guessing your decisions, and doubting your competences, the final outcome will prove every one of these fears right. Worst of all, it’s a self-centered stance: “I’m not good enough”, “I don’t seem to have it in me”, “I am a failure and everyone will find out sooner or later”. Notice the “me, me, me…”?
Newsflash: in the workplace, it is never all about you. It’s always about delivering value.
The right thing you should be asking is: “What’s the best and most efficient way to tackle this challenge or solve this problem?” Real success and growth are rooted in selflessness. Set fears aside and start approaching challenges rationally. Suddenly, your work will shine and deliver real value for your clients, bring growth for the company, and inevitably recognition for yourself. Along the way you will still experience failures, but you’ll approach them from an empowered position, take away learnings, and set up safeguards to prevent such failures from repeating in the future.
Being consumed by “not failing”, is not the same as focusing on “growth and success”. So, choose where you direct your energy wisely.
The antidote of self-doubt is ownership
Think of it this way: Whatever the task or challenge is – it fell in your lap.
Surely there is some other, smarter human out there in the world that can solve the same problem better and faster than you. But, they’re not here and it’s now your responsibility to tackle it. Yours only!
Precisely this shift in mindset can empower you to take action and achieve great things, even when you’re feeling unsure of yourself.
Work out this muscle enough, and soon you’ll be proactively looking for problems to solve, scoping out ways to contribute to your company, and taking on new responsibilities. With each success, no matter how small, you’ll build the confidence and momentum needed to overcome self-doubt and achieve your full potential.
My advice? (although no one asked for it)
Remember, it’s not about being perfect, but about taking action and making a positive impact. Take a deep breath, believe in yourself, and get to work.
Not only will you not fail…you’ll do great!
If you have a passion for digital marketing and you see yourself as part of our team – check out our open positions 😉