As I’ve mentioned to you a few times already, I recently finished the book Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg- and I highly recommend it! I was going to write a post about the book as a whole, but today, I had an interesting conversation with mom about one of the chapters, and I thought I’d share part of our conversation with you, dad, and our readers.
In this chapter, Sheryl mentioned that many women lack confidence- so that when they finally get the job they want, they feel guilty. They feel like they are “so lucky to get a job” and that “sooner or later, people will find out that they are really not that good”. They feel like they’ve “lied” to their employers about their capability, and are worried that people will realize this soon. Sheryl said she was nodding her head again and again when she heard this in a speech, and realized that she wasn’t the only one that has felt this way. The interesting thing is, this feeling applies to many women (and men)- even the ones that are extremely smart and successful.
I found this really interesting, because this thought actually occurred to me in the beginning of my summer internship. When our VP of Global Human Resources told us that we are “the best of the best”- because out of the 500+ applicants this year, only 14 of us made the cut, I thought “wow, I’m proud of myself”. But after a second or so, I thought, “Shit…I’m so lucky to get in. How is it possible that I’ve out-competed hundreds of applicants? What if soon people find out I’m really not that good?” Yes, basically the same thoughts described by Sheryl Sandberg. But in reality, there really is no reason why I should have thought that the other interns are more competent than me when I barely knew them! (Thinking back, it’s interesting how I thought everyone else got in because they are good, but I got in because I was lucky…maybe we all have the tendency to be harder on ourselves.)
Throughout this summer, I have been fortunate to have the chance to chat with some successful people in Wunderman. I still remember that Chris Elliot (Executive Creative Director) told us that we should apply for jobs that we are intimidated by or scared of- jobs we think that are too good for us. Kelby Johnson (Senior Strategist) also said we should feel uncomfortable in our job- that’s when we know we’re doing the right thing to improve and push ourselves.
So you know what? Feeling challenged and intimidated by your job is not only normal…but probably a good thing. I say it’s a good thing because i think that’s how we concur our own fear and push our boundary. So why not change this worried and guilty feeling into positive energy? I mean, seriously- if Sheryl Sandberg, one of the most influential women in the world, has doubted her own ability, you should know that if you feel this way it doesn’t mean you’re not competent at all. It just means that you should believe in yourself and be more confident! 🙂
Lastly, now I think about it, it’s silly to think we only got the job because we have tricked our employers into thinking that we are competent. But the reality is, these people- the HR, your manager, or whoever that hired you- aren’t stupid. They’ve seen tons of people and have so many years of experience under their belt. If they hire you, they must have seen something in you.
At the end of our conversation, mom asked me if I still worry about this. To be honest…I think this thought kind of evaporated. I’m still super thankful for the job I have and do feel lucky to have a job I love, but, like one of the quotes in our offices says: “Luck favors the prepared”.
So- I hope we will always remember to believe in ourselves and have faith. Yes, we ARE good! 🙂