People tell me all the time that they think I am brave, I inspire them. I don’t feel particularly brave or inspirational. I get scared. I have imposter syndrome.
I think what I am is ME. I get scared and then I start to coach myself. What are the possibilities, what are the opportunities in front of me? Once I go through that, I just go for it. There is no other way for me. I am just doing ME.
It turns out that the things that seem to come naturally to us, are the things that others see as our strengths. We don’t necessarily see these things as strengths because they come naturally to us. We think that unless we work really hard at something, it doesn’t count. How true is that?
Let me give you some examples.
- I was divorced at 28 with two small children (ages 2 and 4) and no college degree. I knew that in order to have the life I wanted, I was going to have to go back to college and get a degree in something that would allow me to support my children. So, I researched my options, and just did it. I applied for every grant and scholarship I could find, took part-time work, put my kids in the Head Start program, and just did it. This was bold, and people seem inspired by this story. But to me, it was just something I had to do. It was hard. It was scary. There were definitely times when I wondered if I could do it. But I was doing ME, and I knew I wanted to do this.
- There was the time my daughter was in Middle School, and I found out that they were teaching creationism in her science class, and not evolution. She had been told that Neanderthal Man was just a human with rickets and that the earth was only 5000 years old. These were the things that were going to be on her science test! I called some of the other parents in her class to see if they were aware of this and if they would go with me to meet with the principal. None of them would! I did ME. I made an appointment with the principal, met with the teacher, requested that they at least show a video about evolution so that the kids had some exposure. That did not happen, but they did throw out the grade for this chapter. Was that Bold? Yes, it was. Was it scary? Yes, it was, especially being the only parent to speak up. But I felt like I had to do it. I am passionate about education, and I could not sit by and let this go.
- Starting Hey, Boomer was bold, people tell me. To me it was lifesaving. I had been laid off when the pandemic hit. I knew I wanted to stay connected, I wanted to feel relevant, I wanted to know that what I did mattered. I chose Facebook Live as my way to connect, feel relevant and put something out into the world that seemed to matter. Others would have chosen some other way to meet similar needs.
You do You
There is a phrase that is being used today … “You do You.” Some people see this phrase as selfish or egotistical. I suppose it could be if it is reactionary or compulsive, without regard to how what you do might impact others.
I see it differently. I see it as recognizing your strengths and talents and using them, celebrating them, and overcoming the fear of being judged for being authentically you.
How do you do this?
- Think back over your life to what gives you energy. What were you doing when you lost track of time? What made you feel good about yourself? These can be things like:
- getting out in nature
- writing poetry
- being president of your class,
- creating a beautiful quilt or a delicious dinner
- leading a book club discussion
- learning about something new
- starting a podcast.
The things you do that give you energy, that feel good, are typically your inherent strengths or feed your bucket of self-care.
2. Plan your perfect week. What would you do without any obligations? Would you choose social gatherings, creative endeavors, quiet time, time to solve some problems, planning time?
What you would choose to do in your perfect week, will reflect your inherent strengths. How can you incorporate more of those inherent strengths into your actual week?
Finding your strengths
There is a free self-assessment that might help you get in touch with your inherent strengths. It is called the VIA Character Strengths assessment. When I took it, it said my top character strengths were Honesty and Courage. They defined these strengths as “Speaking the truth, but more broadly presenting oneself in a genuine way and acting in a sincere way; being without pretense; taking responsibility for one’s feelings and actions.” I would like to think that is who I am when I am DOING ME.
YOU DO YOU! Identify your inherent strengths and find ways to incorporate them into your life.
I am going to start a group coaching program the second week in February. The program will help you overcome the fear of what is next, after leaving your full-time job. Maybe you are already retired, but the honeymoon is over and now you don’t know what to do with all your free time. Or, maybe you have some idea of what you want to do, but are afraid of what others might think, or not sure how to get started. If you think you are interested, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.