“Did I REALLY Sign Up For This?!” Moment: The Imposter Syndrome

Posted May 23, 2018 in Latest News & Insights

By Steffi Black, Kindness Coach

In celebration of Did I REALLY Sign Up For This?! hitting shelves, we’ve invited members of The Roundtable community to share their own “did I really sign up for this?!” moments, which we’ll be sharing over the coming weeks. These are times when things have gone to sh*t (been there!), when they’ve thought that perhaps they aren’t cut out to be a leader (ditto!). One is so juicy the author even requested to remain anonymous! We hope you’ll enjoy the candour and vulnerability shown by these amazing leaders.

When I moved into healthcare as a communications professional and was promoted to Vice-President of Marketing and Communications, I was both elated and terrified. I wanted the opportunity but wasn’t sure I was truly qualified. I was the only one on the team without an MBA and had never worked in healthcare before. My connection to St. Peter’s was my Aunt Cathy who was nursed there in palliative care where I got to meet the leader who brought me on board.

I wanted to use my communications background to give back and work under the visionary and strategic leadership of Mr. Grant Walsh. He both challenged and believed in me, and I thrived under that type of personality and value-driven culture. I love working for someone who sees the big picture and encourages a strong vision, and who believes in empowering and helping people grow. The leadership team—which I was honored to be a part of thanks to the leader’s belief in marketing—met weekly to discuss our progress and challenges. It was exciting and stimulating, but often incredibly stressful.

I wasn’t sure I was ready for this pressure or the demands of this senior role. I remember suffering from imposter syndrome every time the budget was due. I have rudimentary math skills and wasn’t sure how to correctly evaluate or breakdown a chart of departments and costs. Even the business manager seemed to see through my weak attempts at clarity. I was also continually tested by my senior peers who had more experience and some of them weren’t quite sure I deserved to be promoted so quickly when they had spent years working in the field. Luckily I had the opportunity to hire a great team of wonderfully talented people who helped the department work well and compensated for my weaknesses. I also decided to boost my confidence by dressing the part but instead of always buying power suits, I bought a power ring reminiscent of a superhero to empower me in the role. Perhaps only a placebo effect, but it was helpful at the time!

I learned that when we are scared, it’s okay. It means that we care and are working outside our comfort zone, and we don’t grow if we stay inside that safe bubble all the time. I always tried to keep in mind that I was there to serve others. To have a mentor at the same time helped me move through a lot of my self doubts and insecurities. The challenge to grow and oversee a team proved to me that I could be both a strategic and accountable leader and one who cared very much about the people around her. I still have doubts and fears but I know that if my heart is in the right place, I can move through them. Often I call upon the wiser words of Anais Nin to describe the importance of both painful and challenging circumstance we are sometimes confronted with in both our lives and careers:

“And the time came when the risk to remain tight in a bud
Was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Want to share your own “did I REALLY sign up for this?!” moment? Email us here. Don’t have your own copy of Did I REALLY Sign Up For This?! yet? Head over here to grab one!

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  1. Bonnie Black says:

    Thank you for sharing these candid thoughts regarding your experience of growing through fear and anxiety. It takes courage as well as a string commitment to serve, birh of which you epitomize in spades.